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
Almost all of the T26 Grand Sport automobiles received custom coachwork from various coachbuilders. Many were used to display their artistic creations at Motor Shows while others sat atop shortened chassis and used for sporting events.
Anthony Lago had taken over control of the Talbot factory in Suresnes after the merger with Sunbeam and Darracq had collapsed in 1936. By 1937 he had introduced a new line of vehicles, two of which were entered in the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans. He continued his racing endeavors by moving to single-seat racers and by 1939 a purpose-built Grand Prix car had been completed. The onset of World War II slowed the racing endeavors but after the war, and with the assistance of Carlo Marchetti, an overall win at Le Mans was achieved.
Marchetti and Lago created a 4.5-liter version of the six-cylinder engine, and used it in the T26 Record and T26 Grand Sport cars. The 4.5-liter displacement size was selected because it meant requirements for Grand Prix competition. A 1.5-liter displacement size limit was placed on vehicles that were aided by superchargers.
The 4.5-liter engine produced 165 horsepower, which made it inadequate in comparison to the competition, which was producing over 300 horsepower from their engines. The engine would require more tuning if it were to compete in Grand Prix Competition. Marchetti and Lago began work on a revised head for the engine. The new design had two lateral camshafts partway up the block, and shortened pushrods to operate the twelve valves. The modifications improved the engines output to 240 horsepower. Further improvements pushed that figure to around 260 and in range of its competition.
In 1948, the Talbot Lago T26C made its racing debut at the Monaco Grand Prix. The car was fitted with large drum brakes, a Wilson Pre-Selector four-speed gearbox, and a conventional box-section chassis. Shortly after the race began, it became clear that the Talbot Lago was no-match for the Maserati's and their two-stage supercharged 4CLTs. The main advantage that the T26C employed was their ability to run the entire race without refueling or changing tires. The Maserati cars pitted half-way through the race, which gave the Talbot-Lago T26Cs a chance to regain some ground. As the checkered flag fell, Nino Farina and his Maserati were in the lead followed closely by a T26C driven by Louis Chiron.
The Talbot-Lago T26C competition career continued during the 1949 season. Their superior fuel mileage and reliability gained them two major Grand Prix victories. In 1950, the T26C's did well in non-championship competition.
For the 1950 running of the 24 Hours of LeMans, Anthony Lago entered a T26C for competition. The LeMans race is a grueling race that tests driver, car, and team for 24 hours of competition. Just finishing the race is a victory, itself. Anthony was convinced that the T26C's proven reliability would reward them with a strong finish. The car was slightly modified for the race to comply with regulations; it was given lights, fenders, and a wider body to allow for a driver and co-driver.
At the 1950 24 Hours of LeMans, the T26C was driven by Louis Rosier and his son Jean-Louis Rosier. At the end of the race, the T26C had captured its most important victory of its career.
The T26 road-going cars were powered by a six-cylinder, DOHC Cam engine with triple carburetors that produced nearly 200 horsepower. There was a four-speed Wilson Preselector gearbox, four-wheel drum brakes and a live-axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs rear suspension. This setup provided the necessary power, performance, and comfort required by cars of this caliber.
The Talbot-Lago T26 models were exquisite creations outfitted with coach work provided by some of the world's greatest coachbuilders. Never produced in large numbers, these T26 models are extremely rare and exclusive by today's standards. In total there were around 750 examples of the T26 constructed, with only 23 being the T26C version. There were about 30 examples of the T26 GS (Grand Sport) constructed with eight built atop the short chassis of 2.65M. This was the same chassis used for the Grand Prix cars.
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2007