Grand Sport Cabriolet
Chassis Num: 110110
Engine Num: 108
In war, life still goes on; dreams continue to color sleep and hope sees the sun rise after the darkest of night.
Anthony Lago was just such a dreamer. Though interrupted by the war, the Frenchman still held out visions of a grand tomorrow, a tomorrow filled with elegance and performance, a world where sport and pleasure mixed seamlessly.
His dreams would be interrupted when he was only able to get as far as the T150C SS. However, throughout the war he would continue tinkering with the chassis until the T26 was birthed, at least in his head.
It wouldn't be until after the war the T26 Grand Sport would become a reality. And, what a reality it would become. The elite of the elite, the shortened-wheelbase version could not have been more rare, more exclusive, but it wasn't just about luxury and opulence.
Eccentric and exorbitant and not a little preposterous, the Grand Sport was only for those who could afford it, and even then it still cost too much. But, for the 29 examples that would be built, the owners could claim an exclusivity that practically no one else on the planet enjoyed.
The rarity came in the fact that each of the 29 T26 Grand Sports to be built on the shortened-wheelbase chassis all had individually-crafted bodies. No two were alike. And, chassis 110110 clearly attests to this fact.
To say this car could be seen coming from a mile away would be a gross understatement. Certainly one of the most striking and over-the-top festooned designs ever created by Saoutchik, this car would be a shoe-in for display and was a part of the Geneva Motor Show upon its completion in 1949.
Not long afterward, the car would be purchased by New Yorker Louis Ritter. He already had a Saoutchik-bodied Cadillac on order, but, when he saw the Talbot-Lago in Geneva in 1949 he would determine right then and there that he had to have the car.
All about the image, Ritter would have the Talbot-Lago for just a matter of few months before returning it to the dealer to sell again. This was not such an easy task given the upper reaches of the heavens the car's price touched. Nevertheless, Roger Barlow would prove equal to the task. Selling the car for an ungodly sum of $17,500 in 1950, Barlow would nevertheless succeed in reselling the car some three times.
The final owner of those three would be Walter L. Burghard of Mansfield, Ohio. In 1953, Burghard would have the body removed from the Talbot-Lago chassis and placed atop a Mercury chassis that was fitted with a V-8 engine from a Lincoln.
The final time the car would be seen would be 1970. Earl Weiner, the man who had removed the body from the Talbot-Lago chassis, still retained the chassis and would eventually put it up for sale. In 1975, the chassis would be purchased by Jerry Sherman of Malvern, Pennsylvania. Sherman would be interested in building a racing car version of the Talbot-Lago and would set about having a custom body designed for the chassis.
Sherman would use the car for races and would drive the car regularly right up until 1990 when a fire damaged the chassis. The car would then sit around until Sherman passed away and the car transferred to Tony Carroll's ownership. Carroll would determine it was time for a full restoration.
This restoration effort would take more than 10 years to complete and would include extensive metal-preparation and fabrication work and even Eno DePasquale, of New Hampshire, designing and building a Grand Sport racing body taken from a design of Tunesi. All of this work would be completed in 2009.
Mr. Carroll would only get to use the car for a couple of years before failing health caused him to sell the car to a French collector who would determine he wanted the original Saoutchik body recreated.
Patrick Delage of Auto Classique Touraine would be given the task and he would not overlook any detail of the car. In fact, the work would be to such a high degree of detail that it would earn high praise from experts the world over. It was as if those at Saoutchik had designed and built it themselves.
Offered for sale as part of RM Sotheby's 2015 Monterey auction, this 1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport Cabriolet is not only sure to be a highlight, but a show-stopper as well. It is certain to leave its new owner a bit more obvious than before buying the car.
Estimates for the Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport Cabriolet ranged from between $1,700,000 and $2,100,000.By Jeremy McMullen