The Talbot Samba Cabriolet wasn’t a cheap car. At its UK launch at the end of 1982, the ragtop Samba cost £6196, the equivalent of £22,000 in today’s money. Not an extravagant amount of cash for a Anglo-Franco-Italian cabriolet, but rival manufacturers offered fun for a cheaper price.
The Citroën Visa GT: £4596. Ford Fiesta XR2: £5150. MG Metro: £4799. Renault 5TS: £4511. The big difference being that these tearaways forced you to have fun with your top on.
For topless thrills, you were left with the more expensive VW Golf GL Convertible, a snip at £7084. American safety legislation had all but killed off the affordable droptop.
The Samba was the last new car to wear the Talbot badge. Its demise in 1986 signalled the end for Talbot, although the success of the Samba Cabriolet ensured that the name went out with a flourish. Some 13,602 units were produced in its four-year production run, with the Samba Cabriolet enjoying considerable success in its domestic market.
It was reasonably popular over here, so it’s no surprise that of the surviving Sambas, the Cabriolet is the most common model. That said, it’s always a surprise to see one come up for sale. Form an orderly queue, because there’s a Talbot Samba Cabriolet in the holding pen on the Car & Classic website.
Available as a three-door hatchback or a two-door cabriolet, the Samba sat on a shortened version of the Peugeot 104’s front-wheel drive platform. UK styling married to French underpinnings, with the Samba Cabriolet adding some Italian flair to complete the ménage à trois.
The bodies were assembled at the Talbot plant in Poissy, near Paris, then sent to Pininfarina in Turin for production and painting. From there, the cars were transported back to Poissy for final assembly, before being deployed to sun-seeking customers. This 1983 example was delivered to a dealer in Merseyside, where it spent the first six years of its life.
Power was sourced from a 1360cc engine developing 71bhp at 6000rpm. Autocar described the performance as both ‘fairly sporty’ and ‘mildly sporty’, although it would take a brave or foolhardy driver to test the claimed 93mph top speed. The zero to 60mph time was a leisurely 12.5sec.
On the plus side, you got a set of Uniroyal Rallye low profile tyres, although the Car & Classic example is wearing a set of the less exotic sounding Toyo NanoEnergy 3s. Admire the Talbot centre caps. Go on, admire them.
There’s a lot to love about this Talbot Samba Cabriolet. It’s the right colour, the mileage is low and it’s wearing its original Cubbin & North Peugeot-Talbot dealer plates. Actually, scrub that, because the front plate is showing Tottey’s Garage, so only one can be the original.
Pricing a Talbot Samba Cabriolet is tricky because there are so few left. There are three for sale on AutoScout24, with prices ranging from €1750 (£1500) to €8750 (£7500). The Practical Classics price guide suggests it could be worth anything up £2100, though this seems pessimistic.
In its 1982 review, Autocar drew a conclusion by saying: ‘Putting the Talbot Samba Cabriolet into context is somewhat difficult and really boils down to one question: how important is open-air motoring to you? If it rates highly and you are willing to pay the approximate £1000 surcharge [over the GLS hatchback] for Pininfarina’s excellently conceived and executed conversion, then the car is undoubtedly a bargain.’
What a shame it’s come a little too late for this year’s Festival of the Unexceptional.
Click here for more pics and a detailed description.
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