The truth is to be revealed
The C28 project started in 1982 but studies started in 1980. The shape of the car was frozen in 1983 and in 1984 the vehicle was shipped in different countries as Finland and Ivory Coast to experience tough conditions. Some months before it was launched, magazines announced the car as a big 205.
Thus, we could ask ourselves what Talbot has to do with it, and where does the Arizona name come from?
To answer this question, it is necessary to understand the policy of the Peugeot group during the 1970s and the 1980s.
During the 1970s, Renault cars were quite popular and Peugeots were considered as old-fashioned. Even the image of the brand was considered as oldish. The Peugeot 305 which was launched in 1977 was not really appreciated, and for instance, the Renault 18 looked better, with a more modern shape, and so did the Ford Granada. Consequently, Peugeot had to react quickly in order to prevent from closure. And the group was decided to react, but in an odd manner. In fact, the group which lost hundreds of thousands of pounds everyday decided to invest!
The group bought from the Chrysler group their European division, Chrysler Europe that no-one wanted. The reaction was considered as foolish and totally contradictory due to the situation the group was facing. Actually, the whole car industry didn’t understand the choice of Peugeot but what nobody knew at that time was that Peugeot didn’t see it quite that way…
Chrysler Europe was composed of Simca, a famous French brand and Rootes-Sunbeam, a British brand which had bought the Talbot car maker after the first World War. Papers were signed and Peugeot decided to name the whole group Talbot, in order not to confuse customers and to attract British consumers.
One year after the Chrysler Europe group had been bought, the Talbot name was already used but cars were not immediately marked with the Talbot logo. Peugeot decided to invest, but not too much, and they finally launched the Talbot 1510, or Talbot Alpine in the UK, which was in fact a 1307 which had benefited from a facelift. Later, they launched the Talbot Solara, an existing project of Chrysler-Simca which was nothing more than a Talbot Alpine with a classic boot, and the Talbot Samba, a Peugeot 104 copy that was just longer. In short, the group didn’t invest that much. But results were quite good. Despite a selling price quite higher than average, the Talbot 1510 or Alpine sold well, and so did the Talbot Samba which was a great success in the UK. The Talbot Solara also sold well in Spain where it was being built.
Then, Peugeot unified Simca-Chrysler branches with Peugeots. But the problem was that dealers were told to sell Peugeots over Talbots. That was the case in France for instance where Peugeot-Talbot dealers often told the customer how Peugeot models were more reliable than Talbot ones.
The PSA group hadn’t invest much, but it was still getting money out of its own little trick. Sales were good, both in the UK and in France as well as in Spain where the Talbot Solara had been built until the very end, in 1986. The group got enough money to invest for their own interest, and then came what we know now as the Peugeot 205. At the time the 205 was being released, Peugeot had to meet demand concerning hatchback cars, and here came the C28 project.
So, to answer the questions, Talbot has got nothing to do with the 309 and neither does the Arizona name. The decision of Peugeot to invest in a group that had nearly been given to them was not much than a trick to fool everyone. And it worked! Actually, Peugeot is still alive today and it is probably thanks to Talbot. The investment was low and even if the sales were not that good, it was still enough for Peugeot to recover. Once the situation was better, and once Peugeot knew the 205 would sell well, the company just had to make Talbot disappear another time. Yes, Peugeot did study the Talbot Horizon but it was only for its own interest, and let’s put it clear, they never wanted to replace it.