This 1951 Talbot-Lago is a T26GS LM Barchette Racing car with coachwork by Dugarreau. It was the final competition T26 built and left the factory only partially assembled. It was sold to Pierre Levegh who had Charles Deutsch construct a fully-enclosed, aerodynamic, aluminum body. The design was selected to comply with racing regulations and for competing in the 1952 24 Hours of LeMans.
The car was driven by Levegh at the LeMans race, where he piloted the machine for 23 hours. In the 23rd hour, the car retired from the race due to engine problems. This was tragic, as the Levegh had a four lap lead. It is believed that the engine problems was caused by a missed gear change due to driver fatigue. The car had been having engine problems for many hours during the race, and this was the reason why Levegh did not hand the reigns over to his partner. He felt his partner would be unable to drive the car in its current condition to the finish line.
Pierre Levegh was the racing name of Frenchman, Pierre Eugène Alfred Bouillon. Pierre had adopted the name in memory of his uncle who died in 1904. Pierre was a Formula 1 driver for Talbot-Lago during the 1950 and 1951 season where he started six races and retired three times. He finished fourth in the 1951 LeMans race but his most famous LeMans appearance would end in one of the worst racing tragedy's in history.
For the 1955 season, Levegh switched to American John Fitch's team where he piloted a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR. At the 1955 LeMans, in the third hour of the race, while on the Tribunes Straight, Levegh was involved in an accident that resulted in the car and driver being thrown through the air and into a crowd of people. Levegh and eighty-two spectators lost their lives that day. Over 100 individuals had suffered injuries.
After the crash, the Talbot-Lago was sold and passed through the possession of enthusiast and collectors throughout the years. During the 1970s, much of the Duetsch coachwork was abandoned and the car was fitted with cycle-fender bodywork. Recently, the car has been restored to its original, Duetsch-created condition. After its restoration, it was shown at the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2007
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