Grand Sport Coupe
Chassis Num: 110106
Engine Num: 103
Sold for $1,485,000 at 2014 Bonhams
The post-War era Talbot T26 Grand Sport was a direct descendant of the pre-war T150SS road car, a few of which had received the teardrop coupe body by Figoni et Falaschi. Anthony Lago conceived the Grand Sport strictly as a two-seater, and the layout and most of the mechanical details from the GP cars were retained. Lago mounted the engine, gearbox and suspension components on the short 265-centimeter pre-war Grand Prix chassis rails with a few modifications. The front suspension was independent with a transverse leaf spring, and there was a short transaxle between the engine and the gearbox, followed by a short driveshaft. The result was the SWB Grand Sport chassis which weighed just 850 kg compared to the 1,280 kg of the new T26 Record family car chassis.
Anthony Lago and chief engineer Carlo Marchetti developed the free-revving Type 26 4486cc 6-cylinder engine during the War and first showed it at the Paris Salon in 1946. The twin camshaft in the upper part of the block operated large overhead valves inclined at an efficient 90 degrees via short pushrods and rockers on either side of the head, giving it the appearance of a DOHC design. With the help of two carburetors, an impressive 170 bhp was produced when mounted in a T26 Record chassis. The engine found in the Grand Sport models were further improved. Like the GP engines, the cylinders were sleeved, the cylinder head was in aluminum, compression was raised, and three Zenith Stromberg carburetors with no air filters were fitted. Grand Sport power was conservatively rated at 190bhp. This made the T26 GS one of the most powerful passenger car motors in the world at the time. The four-speed Wilson pre-selector gearbox made it possible to shift the Grand Sport much faster than conventional gearboxes of the period.
This new chassis was designed for the sporting and affluent clientele, who were seeking a fast daily driver that would not be adverse to entering various rally and racing events as privateers, with the occasional appearance at a Concours d'Elegance.
In total, just 28 chassis of the Talbot-Lago Grand Sport were built on the short 265 centimeter wheelbase.
This particular example is the second chassis signed off by the factory on August 3, 1948. It was exported to the Anciens Etablissements J. Guerret, the Talbot concessionary in Belgium. Guerret sold the chassis to the English racing driver Goldie Gardner, who was living in Brussels at the time. Gardner commissioned a one-off fastback coupe body by Van den Plas. The result was a cutting edge slab-sided pontoon shape, which failed rather miserably from an aesthetic point of view. The completed car was first shown at the Brussels Motor Show in January 1949.
Gardner kept 110106 for about a year and a half. In 1950, Claude Nias, a Belgian privateer, bought the car and raced it twice with a Mr. Brancart in the Liège-Rome-Liège rally. He placed 20th in 1951 and 12th in 1952.
Chassis 110106 was too heavy to be competitive. So in 1952, Nias decided to have the car re-bodied by Martial Oblin in Brussels in its current coupe style coachwork. Martial Oblin began bodies in the late 1940s, developing a number of modern construction techniques for light competition bodies. For chassis 110106, Oblin gave it a technically advanced 'spiderweb' which consisted of thin steel tubes welded into a structure, which was able to absorb a considerable impact. The body was completed in a mere six weeks. The 'Superleggera'-type body weighed just 145 kg including lights, glass and seats. By moving the greenhouse towards the rear, the resulting body design was a fastback silhouette with a long sleek hood.
The completed chassis-body ensemble was displayed at the 1953 Brussels show. Also that year, Nias raced 110106 with its new Oblin body in the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. He started from pole position and was running in fourth place at the 8th hour when a problem with the rear axle forced him to retire prematurely. He also participated in the Liège-Rome-Liège rally in 1953, but was again forced to retire early after going off the road on a downhill corner.
In 1957, Nias sold the car to a Mr. Vanderkele in Brussels. The car remained in Venderkele's care for the next 19 years, but there is no record what he did with it during his long tenure.
François d'Huart bought the car from Mr. Vanderkele in 1976. d'Huart rallied the car many times, including participating in the January 1987 Montecarlo-Sestriere rally. In 1999, the car was sold via Christophe Pund of the Galerie des Damiers, who exhibited the car at Rétromobile. The next owner, who retains the car today, subsequently raced and rallied 110106 extensively.
In 2002, the car was involved in an accident at Spa-Francorchamps. The car rolled onto its roof, and Martial Oblin's 50-year-old web of steel tubes did a remarkable job of absorbing the energy. After the accident, 110106 was sent to Rob Jolley Coachbuilding in the UK for a sympathetic restoration.
Currently, the car is powered by a 4482cc overhead valve inline-6 cylinder engine fitted with 3 Zenith Stromberg carburetors. The 190 horsepower produced is sent to the rear wheels via a 4-speed Pre-Selector gearbox. At all four corners are drum brakes.By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2014