The model was sold under a variety of names, including Simca 1308 and 1309 models (with larger engines), Chrysler Alpine (UK, Ireland and New Zealand), Dodge Alpine (Colombia), Chrysler 150 (Spanish market), and later Talbot 1510 / Talbot Alpine / Talbot 150 (a facelifted version launched by PSA after its takeover of Chrysler Europe) and Talbot Solara (the saloon version).
Originally the car was powered by 1294 cc and 1442 cc versions of the "Poissy engine" with electronic ignition and a four-speed gearbox. From launch it was available in three trim levels: GL, S and GT. Equipment levels were high, with the later GLS version featuring central door locking and electric windows, accessories that up until then had only generally featured in larger more upmarket cars. Having won the Car of the Year award, it was initially a success both at home and in the export. Production levels shot up from a daily 400 at introduction in September 1975 to 850 in December of that year, to 1100 a day in late 1976. The 1307 (7 CV) had the smaller engine, while the 1308 (8 CV) received the larger version. Unlike the other models, the more sporting 1307 S received twin Weber carburettors in continental European markets to provide a more powerful and revvy engine while remaining in a lower tax category. In the UK, the 1307 S has the same single Solex carburettor as the GL.
Finnish-built Talbot 1510, facelifted version with new headlights
More upmarket models were designated 1308 (1508 in some markets) and 1309. All of the models replaced the Simca 1301/1501 range in France, while on the British market it was sold alongside the ageing Hillman Hunter, a rear-wheel drive range of saloons and estates which would continue until 1979. This type of car was generally more popular in Britain in 1975, with the best-selling cars in this sector being the Ford Cortina and Morris Marina. The Chrysler Alpine was first sold in Britain in January 1976, going on sale just after the similar-sized Vauxhall Cavalier, a rear-wheel drive saloon which consistently outsold it.
Near the end of the original model's run, the Italian importer marketed a sporty and luxurious version of the bigger-engined 1308 GT. Called the "1308 GLS Superstrada", it featured alloy wheels, black striped along the lower flanks, and all chrome (aside from the pentastar logo) was blacked out.
Facelift and Solara
For 1980 the car, which was now sold under the Talbot-brand, received an extensive facelift. The new model, shown at the Frankfurt Show, was known as the Talbot 1510 (the Talbot Alpine name was used in the UK). It received new front and rear lights and the new top of the range SX featured alloy wheels, cruise control, headlamp wash/wipe, power steering and trip computer. Automatic transmission and a five-speed gearbox also became available. The lineup became clearer, with the 1307 GLS replaced by the 1510 LS, the 1307 S by the GL, the 1308 GT by the GLS, and finally the 1309 SX by the 1510 SX (automatic transmission only at first).
A four-door saloon version, called the Talbot Solara, was released in the same year, with either 1.3 or 1.6 engines, and was produced alongside the hatchback version. Trim levels were similar to the Alpine. It effectively took over from the Hunter, axed a year earlier, as the four-door large family saloon in the range. In the Benelux countries, a well-equipped "Ultra" special edition with metallic paint, alloy wheels, and velour interior, appeared in December 1983.
Talbot Solara SX, rear view
French manufacturing of 1510, Alpine and Solara, along with the smaller Horizon, ended in 1986. In the United Kingdom the last cars were rebadged as the Rapier and Minx which were badged depending on trim level rather than body style. Production of the Alpine, Solara and Horizon models had already finished at Ryton in the autumn of 1985 to make way for the Peugeot 309. The names were sourced from the corporate ancestor of Chrysler Europe, the Rootes Group, having been used on the Sunbeam Rapier and Hillman Minx. Supply of these models was limited and in 1986 production ceased, with the Talbot marque being shelved soon afterwards on all passenger vehicles. Thus, the Alpine/1510/Solara series was not directly replaced; however the Citroën BX (already released in 1982) and the forthcoming Peugeot 405 (launched in late 1987) were effectively its de facto successors as PSA's entries in the D-segment. Both of these cars were very successful in Europe, and helped Citroen and Peugeot increase their market share in the UK and many other export markets.
Whilst very many units were sold in France, the Chrysler Alpine did not fulfill its potential in the UK, initially losing out to contemporaries such as the Ford Cortina/Sierra and the Vauxhall Cavalier primarily due to the lack of larger engines (Ford and Vauxhall offered 2.0L engines in their products, whilst the Alpine/Solara range topped out at a 1.6L unit). The Alpine's OHV Simca engines were particularly "tappety" and unrefined compared to the more modern overhead camshaft units of its rivals with further dented its appeal. In later life, due to corrosion problems similar to those of the Horizon few Alpines have survived in the UK, as of 2017, only 19 examples (including the later Talbot badged versions) were still licensed on British roads However, the car has fared better in its native France, where it still has a cult following among Simca enthusiasts and many hundreds of examples are still in service.
The body styling of the Simca 1307 was the direct inspiration for the design of Russian Moskvitch Aleko (1986–2001)
In New Zealand, Chrysler, Talbot, Alpine, and 1510 badges were used on the car during its lifetime, though it was officially in price lists as an Alpine, following the UK convention. In 1982 the car was facelifted and renamed SX there.
^ abcde"Chrysler's new Alpine". Autocar. Vol. 143 (nbr 4107). 26 July 1975. pp. 20–23.
^Thevenet, Jean-Paul, ed. (January 1977). "30 jours d'automobile" [30 days of the automobile]. L'Automobile (in French). Neuilly, France: Societé des Editions Techniques et Touristiques de France (367): 4.
^Armstrong, Douglas (December 1975). "International Exchange". SA Motor. Cape Town, South Africa: Scott Publications: 18–19.