This car first appeared in France as the Simca Horizon in January 1978 and was a development of the Simca 1100. Initially just two engines were offered; the well known Simca 1118 cc and 1294 cc units, and three models: LS, GL, and GLS. The GLS could only be supplied with the 1294 cc engine, but a choice of engine was available on the LS and GL versions. Not only were the engines the same as the 1100 range, even the wheelbase of the two cars was identical, as was the overall length bar half an inch. The Horizon was over 3 inches wider however, reflecting the trend of 1970s cars being wider than their earlier counterparts. GLS models were very well equipped by 1978 standards, featuring tinted glass, velour upholstery, remote control door mirror, digital clock and cut pile carpet.
A disappointing feature of the new Horizon range at launch was that unlike on the 1100 range, there was no performance model. While the 1294 cc Simca 1100 Special produced 75 bhp and the 1100 TI 82 bhp, the same power unit in the Horizon was detuned to produce only 67 bhp, presumably for economy. Nevertheless, the Horizon sales got off to an excellent start in France, and by the time the car was launched in the UK in October 1978, it was obvious Simca had another success following on the heels of the Alpine/1307. Confirmation of this was indicated by the Horizon winning the Car of the Year award for 1979.
Unfortunately much of the momentum of Horizon sales was lost by the change from Chrysler Simca to Talbot across Europe on 10 July 1979. Both in the UK, in France and other key European markets like Belgium, Holland and Germany, customers were confused by the name change. The first special edition available was the GLS Special (otherwise known as the Jubilee in Europe) which was fitted with the 1442 cc engine and trip computer, this model was replaced by the SX in 1979, also fitted with the 1442 cc engine developing 82 bhp. This was available only with automatic transmission and also fitted with the trip computer. Equipment levels were very high for the time, there being few small hatchbacks in the same sector of the market. While the trip computer was not very accurate, it was of some use and was used as a key feature by Talbot salesmen. Another special edition was the ‘Special’ with 1442 cc engine, alloy wheels and striking body side decals.
In 1982 another new model appeared, only for the European market. Called the Horizon EX, it had a 65 bhp version of the 1442 cc engine and was marketed as a luxurious but very economical car. By this date the French range was quite different from that offered in the UK, with all models other than the LS having the 1442 power unit but tuned to give varying power outputs.
Horizons were assembled in the UK at the Ryton plant from 1982 and a number of important fleet orders were secured by Talbot once it was seen as a British built car. The range was widened by the introduction of a diesel engined model, the LD, for the 1983 model year, although all the diesel cars were built in France. In fact the Horizon was the first Peugeot/Talbot car to receive the hugely successful XUD engine, that went on to power many other Peugeot models. Also for 1983, the rear seat design was changed, increasing legroom in the rear of the car. The rear parcel shelf was changed and located higher than before, increasing luggage capacity. Such cars can be identified by looking at the rear hatch window, as the bottom part is blanked off with black paint.
Also launched in 1983 was the most interesting of all Horizons, the Premium. It was equipped with the Talbot 1592 cc engine and developed an impressive 90 bhp, giving a top speed of around 110 mph. Central locking, electric windows, power steering and alloy wheels with 175/70SR13 tyres were all standard. Unfortunately, this model was never imported into the UK.
Commencing with the 1984 model year, all Horizons with the exception of the 1118 cc engined models were built with the excellent Peugeot 5 speed BE1 gearbox. In the UK these cars were marketed as Series 2 Horizons, and the GLS model was deleted. Final changes were made in October 1984 when the French cars received deeper bodyside mouldings, new instrument graphics and revised upholstery. A full range of Horizon models was still available for the European markets, including the GLS and Premium. For the UK market just two versions of the new range were available from April 1985, these being the 1294 cc LX and 1442 cc GLX. Both models were well equipped, the GLX having power steering, central locking and tinted glass.
In June 1985 these two cars were joined by two limited edition models. These were the 1118 cc LE, with a 4 speed gearbox, and the 1294 cc GLE, with the 1294 cc engine and 5 speed box. The interior trim was much simpler than on the LX and GLX models. Production of Horizons finished in both France and the UK in the summer of 1985, with 842,078 cars built. By the end of 1985 all the limited edition cars had been sold, leaving only the LX listed as being available in 1986. By June of that year these had been sold and the Horizon's replacement, the Peugeot 309, was on the market. Part of the Simca tradition continued, as the 1118 cc and 1294 cc engines were used in a number of 309 models.
Thanks to a combination of improved rust proofing on later cars, low running costs, compact size and versatility, the Horizon has become a popular car in Simca Club UK.