Sold for $4,847,000 at 2008 Bonhams & Butterfields Sale of Exceptional Motorcars and Automobilia.
This Talbot-Lago T150 C SSs with Pourtout Aerocoupé body is one of four examples created of this type. This car, along with two others, are believed to still remain. The fourth car is rumored to still exist in the form of pieces. However, this remains a rumor as evidence, including pictures, have not yet been shown. The other two cars are in private collections. In 2008, this example - chassis number 90120 - was offered for sale at the 'Quail Lodge, A Sale of Exceptional Motorcars and Automobilia' presented by Bonhams Auction.
Antonio Franco Lago was born in Venice in 1893. At an early age, the family moved to Bergamo, where Lago's father worked as manager of the municipal theater. Tony grew up in a household full of actors and musicians, and government officials. This allowed Tony to meet a wide range of important people, and to foster relationships with people who would one day achieve prominence, such as Pope John IV and Mussolini.
Understanding the current government and the conditions that existed at the time, Tony always carried a hand grenade with him. One day, three individuals from the fascist youth came into a trattoria after him, but shot the owners first. Tony pulled the pin on his grenade, threw it, and ran out the back door. The explosion killed one of the assailants, and Tony knew immediately he had to flee. In 1919, he fled to Paris.
He earned engineering degrees and worked for Pratt and Whitney, before settling in England in the 1920s. During the war, his resourcefulness and ambition earned him the rank of Major in the French Army.
By the early 1930s, Lago had negotiated the rights to market the Wilson pre-selector gearbox. This technology allowed the selection of a gear with a lever in advance of its need. The gear would be engaged when the clutch was operated.
During the 1920s, the Talbot factory in Paris acquired a large amount of debut due to overspending on Grand Prix racing. It was an antiquated plant with a slow selling product. Lago made a deal with the British parent of Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq where he would be paid a salary, and in turn, would turn the French side of the company around. The profits from the sale would be shared. In 1933, he moved to France.
In 1934, working with his engineer Walter Brecchia, the existing Talbot T120 model was upgraded to the T150. This was done with the help of a new hemispherical combustion chamber cylinder head for the three-liter engine. To promote the cars, Tony employed several ingenious and creative methods. He prepared three cars and had them painted in the French tri-color of Red, White and blue. The cars were entered in Concours d'Elegance in the Bois de Boulogne in June 1934. They were powered by the old T-120 engine as the new head was not yet ready. Behind the wheel of each car were well-known female racing drivers. All were clothed in elegantly tailored outfits with colors that matched their cars. Topping off the ensemble were berets. The following weekend, Tony had the same three cars, and the same three ladies, present the cars to the French motoring industry at an affair at the Prince of Wales hotel. After the event, the three ladies and the cars were sent to another concours sponsored by a Paris newspaper.
Once the revised cylinder heads were ready, he attempted to promote his cars through racing. In 1935, a T-150 sedan was entered at LeMans and ran as high as 11th before it was forced to retire. Rule changes for the following year put class displacement limits for sports car racing with breaks at 2 and 4 liters. Lago created a 4-liter version of the T-150, but still had no success in racing. Sales remained slow as well, partly due to the recession in France.
Still trying to prove his vehicles performance potential, Lago attempted to travel 100 miles in an hour on the banked portion of the Montlhèry course. The goal was ascertained and the Talbot-Lago's stature continued to evolve in the sporting community.
By 1937, the lightweight version of the T-150C was introduced. The older 4-liter version and the new lightweight examples began winning at a plethora of arenas, including at Marseilles, where they finished 1-2-3-5, Tunisia, Montlhèry (top three spots) and the British Tourist Trophy.
In August, Lago introduced a touring version of the open T-150 Cs that were often seen racing and winning. At the Paris-Nice Criterium de Tourisme, the new 'T150 C SS' was introduced and under the bonnet was a four-liter, six-cylinder overhead valve engine breathing through triple Zenith-Stromberg carburetors, similar to the racing version. It was fitted with a Wilson pre-selector gearbox which sent the 140 horsepower to the rear wheels. The body was by Paris coachbuilder, Figoni and Falaschi. The result was an elegant, impressive, and awe-inspiring coupe coupled with a racing legacy that was tried-and-true.
There were fewer than 30 examples of the T-150 C SS models created. Most were given coachwork by Figoni and Falaschi. Only four Pourtout Aerocoupés were created. Marcel Pourtout
Marcel Pourtout, based in Paris, began his craft in the mid-twenties with his wife managing the books. His clientele were the rich and famous and his platform were among the elite of the era, including Delahaye, Bentley, Delage, Peugeot, Lancia, and eventually, Talbot.
In the early 1930s, Pourtout met Georges Paulin. Paulin, with urging from his father, had become a dentist. His father served in World War I and his mother was killed in a Paris street by a 200 pound shell fired by a Germany artillery device. Though he worked as a dentist, his real interest was in aerodynamics and the automobile. He later returned to Paris where he designed and patented a retractable steel top, which would later be used on several Pourtout bodies. Pourtout also worked with Paris Peugeot dealer, Emile Darl'mat. This connection would ultimately bring all three men together; Paulin became Pourtout's designer.
During the mid-1930s, Paulin design some of the most memorable designs ever created, which were then created by Pourtout. Three such examples include the Delage D-8 120, the Peugeot Darl'mat, and the Embiricos Bentley. Near the end of the run was the Talbot T-150 C SS. It had an Aerocoupe body similar to the Figoni and Falaschi design, but more aerodynamic.
The war would bring Talbot production to an end. Paulin would become an agent of the British Secret Service, who was later captured and executed by the Nazis in 1942.
After the war, the Talbot Company continued with automobile production and with racing. They were always on the verge of bankruptcy, and much of time fully immersed in racing, occasionally winning a Grand Prix in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1950, they finally were victorious at Le Mans with the T-26 powered by an updated version of the T-150 engine. By 1958, after having been in receivership four times, the company was merged into Simca and was out of business a year later.Chassis 90120
This T-150 C SS was owned by a wealthy amateur sportsman after the Second World War. It was raced in 1950 and 1951, and won overall or in his class in many events, including Orléans, the Circuit de Bressuire, Agen and the Mount Ventoux Hillclimb. In 1953, the owner, Pierre Boncompagni, died in a race in Hyeres while driving a Ferrari.
Years later, the car was in the United States in the ownership of James R. Stannard Jr. in Long Beach. In the early 1960s, it was purchased by Lindsey Locke of Southern California. It has not changed hands since Locke's purchase. The Bonhams Auction was one of the rare opportunities to purchase this magnificent and very rare automobile. This rare vehicle was purchased for the sum of $4,847,000 inclusive of buyer's premium.By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2008