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SNAPSHOT 285: 1938 Sunbeam-Talbot Ten

The Sunbeam-Talbot Ten was billed as a compact executive car or small sports saloon.  It was built by the Rootes Group in their Clément-Talbot factory in North Kensington between 1938 and 1939, and then reintroduced after the Second World War and sold between 1945 and 1948.  Our Snapshot is from an early publicity picture and shows the four-door saloon.  A drophead coupé and a sports tourer were also sold.

The Clément-Talbot and Sunbeam companies were purchased by the Rootes Group in 1935.  The new strategy was to use the prestige of the Talbot name to sell larger numbers of lower-priced cars; the first fruit of this plan was the Talbot Ten launched at the 1936 Motor Show.  It was a lengthened Hillman Aero Minx with a stronger chassis, updated by Georges Roesch at short notice.  Its pillarless two-door body was probably designed by Ted White of Rootes and was made by Darracq in Acton.  The open tourer was made by Whittingham & Mitchel, and Abbott of Farnham made a drophead coupé with an intermediate coupé de ville position.  The car was well received, being described by journalists as an attractive, refined and well-equipped small car.

The Talbot Ten was rebadged Sunbeam-Talbot Ten in August 1938; there was to be no large luxury car with the Sunbeam name, so Rootes kept the name alive by linking it to Talbot.  The new car gained a totally new all-steel body, now with the four doors we can see in our Snapshot, taken from a December 1938 advertisement.  The elegant lady demonstrating this new feature was also seen in the brochure.  Other improvements were pressed steel wheels covered by wheel discs, a normal gear lever, better instruments and reshaped front mudguards.  A backward step was the removal of synchromesh from first gear and later from second gear.  The new body was again made in Acton, but by British Light Steel Pressings next door to Darracq.  The car was powered by a 1,185cc side-valve engine of 41bhp, giving a top speed of 68mph.  Suspension was by leaf springs all round.

Production between 1938 and 1948 was around 7,250, with over 5,500 of these the four-door saloon.  The Ten was replaced in 1948 by the Sunbeam-Talbot 80, a full-width restyled version of the same car, sharing the same roof pressing.

Picture courtesy of the Richard Roberts Archive

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