Talbot Wind

The coachbuilders Heuliez were no strangers to the idea of converting the SIMCA 1100 into something more desirable. In 1968, it produced the pretty Saharienne cabriolet version, which was shown at that year's Paris Salon. Sadly, a production version did not follow, but it gave the company a valuable insight into the car's structural qualities.

There's no getting away from Talbot's blatant lifestyle marketing of the Talbot-Wind. However, Heuliez did commence another 1100-based project, which did have a major impact on the car's future development: essentially, it took the standard car's front end, and mated it to a capacious van rear end to produce the 1100 VF2 ("Voiture Fourgonette"). This was soon followed-up with the high roof version called the VF3, and then the handy pick-up version, and provided SIMCA with an effective rival on the commercial market for the Citroen 2CV AK and Renault 4 F4. These innovative derivatives joined the "Affaires et societe" van, which was effectively a panelled-in three door hatchback without rear seats and the VF1, three door break van.

From the humble VF2 Fourgonette, the mould-breaking Matra-Simca rancho was constructed by Matra. With the help of some impact resistant plastic and other off-roading equipment the ordinary van was transformed into a highly capable leisure vehicle. Stylistically the Matra-Rancho was at least twenty years early. Such was the Rancho's impact, that Heuliez had the smart idea of building its own lifestyle version of the Talbot-SIMCA 1100 based on the pick-up. This model was created in order to give aspiring Rancho owners the opportunity to own a cheaper lifestyle version of the 1100, whilst allowing Heuliez a piece of the action. Heuliez had already produced many limited production specials based upon the products of PSA, and ranged from such exotics of as the Citroen SM Espace (a lavishly trimmed SM with a slatted rear window a T-bar convertible a-la Triumph Stag) and long wheelbase Peugeot 604, through to the Citroen BX Break of 1986. The Talbot Wind basically fell into the lower end of the Heuliez repertoire, but was no less interesting for that.

The Talbot-Wind was the result, and in the brochures, it looked very stylish indeed. Wind was available to retrofit to existing pickups or could be supplied direct from Deux Sevres. It offered accessories, such as a surf rack, and sported neat styling touches such as roof-mounted spotlights, a new radiator grille and jazzy paint schemes. Particularly interesting was modular nature of the accessory pack, so if one did not want their surf racks attached, they would simply unbolt. However, lacking the Rancho’s finish the Wind was not a commercial success.

Like the Rancho, the Wind offered no real off-road ability, despite looking as if it could climb every mountain. When the 1100 pick-up slipped out of production in 1985, the Wind followed...

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