Thursday, August 8, 2013


Talbot-Lago was a French automobile manufacturer based in Suresnes, Hauts de Seine, outside of Paris.


1938 Talbot-Lago T-150 CSS. Body by Carrosserie Marcel Pourtout, designer Georges Paulin
1937 Talbot Lago T150 SS. Teardrop Coupe bodywork by Figoni & Falaschi
1948 Talbot-Lago T26C
1950 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport, coachwork by Jacques Saoutchik, Paris
Talbot-Lago T26 ca. 1950
The Anglo-French STD (Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq) combine collapsed in 1935. The French Talbot company was acquired and reorganised by Venetian born engineer Antonio Lago (1893–1960) and after that, the Talbot-Lago name was used. On the home market the cars carried a Talbot badge.
At the same time, the British interests of Talbot were taken over by the Rootes Group and the parallel using of Talbot brand in France and Britain ended. Talbot-Lago cars sold in Britain were badged as Darracq.

Reorganisation under Tony Lago

For 1935, the existing range continued in production but from 1936 these were steadily replaced with cars designed by Walter Becchia featuring transverse leaf sprung independent suspension. These ranged from the two-litre T11, the three-litre T17, four-litre T23 and sporting Spéciale and SS.
Lago was an excellent engineer who developed the existing six-cylinder engine into a high-performance 4-litre one. The sporting six-cylinder models had a great racing history. The bodies—such as of T150 coupé—were made by excellent coachbuilders such as Figoni & Falaschi or Saoutchik.

After World War II

After the war, the company continued to be known both for successful high-performance racing cars and for large luxurious passenger cars, with extensive sharing of chassis and engine components between the two. Nevertheless, the period was one of economic stagnation and financial stringency. The company had difficulty finding customers, and its finances were stretched.

In 1946, the company began production of a new engine design, based on earlier units but with a new cylinder head featuring a twin overhead camshaft. This engine, designed under the leadership of Carlo Marchetti, was in many respects a new engine. A 4483 cc six-cylinder in-line engine was developed for the Talbot Lago Record (1946–1952) and for the Talbot Grand Sport 26CV (1947–1954). These cars were priced against large luxurious cars from the likes of Delahaye, Delage, Hotchkiss and Salmson. Talbot would remain in the auto-making business for longer than any of these others, and the Talbot name had the further dubious distinction of a resurrection in the early 1980's.

Talbot Lago Record T26

The Talbot Lago Record T26 was a large car with a fiscal horsepower of 26 CV and a claimed actual power output of 170 hp, delivered to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual gear box, with the option at extra cost of a Wilson pre-selector gear box, and supporting a claimed top speed of 170 km/h (105 mph). The car was commonly sold as a stylish four-door sedan, but a two-door cabriolet was also offered. There were also coachbuilt specials with bodywork by traditionalist firms such as Graber.

Talbot Lago Grand Sport T26

The T26 Grand Sport (GS) was first displayed in public in October 1947 as a shortened chassis, and only 12 were made during 1948 which was the models's first full year of production. The car was noted for its speed. The engine which produced 170 hp in the Lago Record was adapted to provide 190 bhp (140 kW) or, later, 195 bhp (145 kW) in the GS, and a top speed of around 200 km/h (124 mph) was claimed, depending on the body that was fitted. The car was built for either racing or luxury and benefited directly from Talbot's successful T26C Grand Prix car. As such it was expensive, rare and helped Louis Rosier with his son to win the LeMans 24 Hour race in 1950. The GS replaced the Lago-Record chassis which was named for its remarkable top speed. Having a 4.5-litre inline-6 aluminum cylinder head and triple carburetor from the T26 the Grand Prix cars, the GS was one of the world's most powerful production cars. Chassis details were similar to the Grand Prix cars, but it was longer and wider. It came it two wheelbase lengths -104 and 110 inches (2,800 mm).
Almost all the Talbots sold during the late 1940s came with Talbot bodies, constructed in the manufacturer's extensive workshops. The T26 Grand Sport (GS) was the exception, however, and cars were delivered only as bare chassis, requiring customers to choose bespoke bodywork from a specialist coachbuilder. The GS was a star turn in a dull world and coachbuilders such as Saoutchik, Franay, and Figoni et Falaschi competed to trump Talbot's own designers with elaborately elegant bodies.

Talbot Lago Baby

The Talbot Lago Baby (1948–1951) marked the return of a pre-war Talbot model name and was the third model presented by the company during the 1940's. The car was commonly sold as a four-door sedan, but a two-door cabriolet was also offered. Its engine comprised only four cylinders, but the twin overhead camshaft with cylinder valves on both sides of the engine block was again featured:  at 2690 cc the engine capacity equated to a fiscal horsepower of 15 CV which was enough to attract the punitive levels of car tax applied by the French government to large cars. The power output was initially 110 bhp (82 kW), which in 1949 was increased to 120 bhp (89 kW). Although the postwar Baby sedan closely resembled the more powerful Record on a brief glance, the Baby's 2,950 mm wheelbase was slightly shorter than the 3130 mm wheelbase of the Record, and the overall length was correspondingly 200 mm shorter, reflecting the shortened 4-cylinder engine block.

Additionally the cheaper car sat on a simplified suspension set-up. Baby customers could specify as an option a Wilson pre-selector gear box.

Talbot Lago manufactured three special made seven-seater presidential cars one for the President of France, one for the President of Tunisia and one for the Royal family in Saudi.

New bodies for 1952

In 1951, as rumours of the company’s financial difficulties intensified, a new Ponton format body appeared for the Talbot Baby and Record. The wheelbases were carried over from the earlier models. Although in many ways strikingly modern, the new car featured a two piece front windscreen in place of the single flat screen of its predecessor, presumably reflecting the difficulties at the time of combining the strength of a windscreen with curved glass at an acceptable price and quality. The new car’s large rear window was itself replaced by a larger three-piece “panoramic” wrap around back window as part of the car’s first face-lift, which took place in time for the 1952 Paris Motor Show.

The engine specification of the four-cylinder unit was unchanged as was the claimed performance even though the new body was some 100 kg heavier than the old. A new development with the Ponton bodied cars body was the availability of the larger six-cylinder unit from the Talbot Record in the top of the line Talbot Baby, which in this form was called the Talbot Baby/6 Luxe, and had the slightly longer wheel-base and overall length enforced by the greater length of the six-cylinder engine.

T14 LS

1956 Talbot-Lago T14 LS
At the 1954 Salon de L'Automobile de Paris, Talbot-Lago presented their last new engine: the new four-cylinder still had the typical twin laterally mounted camshafts, although it was upgraded to five main bearings. The new 120 PS (88 kW) 2,491 cc engine was called the T14 LS, but it didn't have a car to go in until May 1955 when the Talbot-Lago 2500 Coupé T14 LS was finally presented. The first car had all-aluminium bodywork, but later cars used more steel. 54 of these coupés were built, but proved hard to sell - the stylish bodywork couldn't quite hide the thirties' underpinnings, and the rough engine offered little elasticity nor longevity. For 1957, Talbot-Lago had to resort to installing BMW engines instead.

Maserati engine

A later model, the Lago Sport (1954–1957), would use a Maserati engine.

Lago America

The final Talbot-Lago America models (1957–1959) used 2,476 cc BMW V8 engines or, for the last cars, less sophisticated and less powerful Simca 2,351 cc ohc engines from the Vedette.

Despite its high quality cars, Talbot-Lago struggled for postwar survival along with other prewar marques such as Hotchkiss and Delahaye, and production ceased when Simca took over during 1959. (Simca was subsequently taken over by Chrysler, who gained a controlling share in 1963, and rebranded the business as Chrysler France in 1970).


Sales data by model was kept confidential, possibly in connection with the company’s financial difficulties, but the overall totals for the early 1950s tell a dire story. The Suresnes plant produced 155 cars in 1947, an output which increased by 23 in 1948. 433 cars were produced in 1950, but this then fell to 80 in 1951 and to 34 in 1952. In 1953 it is thought that the company turned out just 13 of the 26CV Record model and 4 of the 15 CV Babys. During the rest of the decade volumes do not appear to have recovered significantly; no more than 54 of the T14 LS were built in 1955 and 1956.


Talbot-Lagos have become a top-prized car at various auctions. A Figoni et Falaschi-bodied T150C SS Teardrop Coupe, owned by Brooks Stevens, would sell for $3,535,000 at Christie's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance auction on Aug 18, 2005, another for $3,905,000 at the Palm Beach International Concours d'Elegance Gooding & Company auction on January 22, 2006 where it was unanimously voted "Best in Show", and another for $4,620,000 at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance RM Auctions Sports & Classics of Monterey auction on August 14, 2010,. A T150 C SS with a Pourtout Aerocoupé body, designed by Georges Paulin, sold for $4,847,000 at the 2008 Bonhams & Butterfields Sale of Exceptional Motorcars and Automobilia at Quail Lodge.

Even Talbot-Lagos with factory bodies, rather than custom coachwork, are highly valued; a factory-bodied 1939 T150 C SS selling in 2013 for $418,000 at the Gooding & Company Scottsdale auction.