Work on Project C9 started in 1976, when Chrysler Europe agreed a replacement for the slow selling 180 and 2 Litre models. By the time of the Peugeot takeover in 1979, a large amount of the work on the new car had been completed, including the styling. To be called the Simca 2000, the C9 was to utilise the Chrysler 2 Litre engine and Simca designed suspension.
Peugeot's soon to be released 505 2 litre model would have been in direct competition with the then unnamed Tagora. To avoid this clash, the new management decided to upgrade the Tagora and to offer the top model with the Douvrin ‘co-op’ V6 engine developed jointly by Peugeot, Renault and Volvo.
To accommodate the new power unit, the engine compartment was extended and at the same time it was decided to adopt the MacPherson strut front suspension as used in the Peugeot 505 and 604 instead of the Simca-designed double wishbones. Semi-trailing link suspension of Peugeot origin was fitted to the rear. As Talbot wished to provide better handling than on the 505, the suspension was adjusted accordingly.
No one would deny that the Tagora looked distinctive when it first appeared at the Paris Motor show in October 1980. The car's most unusual feature was a steeply raked windscreen and falling bonnet line. At 5ft 11ins the new Talbot was very wide, but its overall length of 15ft 2ins was no longer than a BMW 5 Series or the Ford Granada. Talbot succeeded in making the most of the short engines employed to leave a vast area for five people and large amounts of luggage.
By using three different engines, a range of Tagoras was available. There were two models powered by the Simca-derived 2155 cc unit. This was fitted in the GL and GLS models. A single twin-choke carburettor was fitted and the engine developed 115 bhp. The next engine was the 2304 cc turbocharged diesel fitted to the DT model, which was not imported to the UK. Top of the range was the Douvrin 2664 cc engine fitted to the SX model, which developed 165 bhp.
The Tagora range was launched in France in April 1981. The UK launch was a month later, and large posters appeared across the country with a picture of the car carrying the message, "The new Talbot Tagora. Luxury and performance redefined". Only the 2.2 litre cars were available at launch in the UK, the SX did not appear until October 1981. The GL model came with a 4 speed gearbox and power steering was listed as an option, but the few examples of this model seen have all had power steering, so it may have been fitted to all. The GLS had a 5 speed box, tinted glass, power steering, tachometer, velour upholstery and central locking.
Both Motor and Autocar tested the 2.2 GLS in their issues of 16 May 1981, and both were impressed with most aspects of the car. The fuel economy was particularly good for the time and engine size, with Motor achieving an overall average of 24.3 mpg. They considered the Tagora to be an outstandingly spacious car for passengers and luggage with impressive economy and refinement. Criticism of the ineffective ventilation system was quite justified, Tagoras being hot places to be in warm weather.
In October 1981 the 2.6 SX model finally arrived in the UK. In addition to the much more powerful engine, the SX had alloy wheels, electric windows front and rear, height adjustable driver's seat, disc brakes all round, headlamp wash wipe system, chrome-topped inserts on the bumpers, trip computer, and delayed timing for the interior light. In France, leather trim was an option. The SX was certainly quick. Some journalists achieved a 0-60 time of 8.3 seconds with this model. Unfortunately, enquiries from prospective purchasers took rather longer.
To say that sales of the Tagora were slow would be an understatement. Months after the model was introduced, one would be hard-pressed to see one on the road in the UK. The position was only slightly better in France, helped by the availability of the diesel turbo model, and customers in other European countries also turned their backs on the Tagora. Few would disagree that the early 1980's was probably the least appropriate time to launch a completely new car in the over-2 litre class; the world was in the depths of a recession. Taken together with the poor reception the revived Talbot marque enjoyed, it was not surprising that the Tagora was a sales failure. This was a great shame because, poor ventilation apart, it was a very good motor car. 1982 saw the 2.2 GL dropped from the range, and production of the other models at the former Simca factory ceased in June 1983, with only 19,403 completed.
Today few right hand drive Tagoras have survived, and the car has a small but enthusiastic following in Simca Club UK, and within the European Simca clubs.