1938 Talbot-Lago T-26 SS

French automakers, just like so many other marques throughout the world, struggled through difficult economic conditions during the early 1930s with few surviving. One of the French survivors was Darracq/Talbot that was purchased by Italian Major Anthony F. 'Tony' Lago in 1934 from the Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq (STD) Company. He already had an association with the STD Company as the owner of the gearbox manufacturer. The STD Company had a strong reputation for performance, superior engineering, and durability - a reputation that Lago would attempt to uphold. The sale included the facilities located in Suresnes, France and the rights to use the Darracq and Talbot names. The cars sold in France were known as Talbots while the UK products were dubbed Darracqs.

Mr. Lago was eager to introduce his newly formed Talbot Lago brand to motorsports. He commissioned Talbot's chief engineer Walter Becchia to create a new sports car that could be used for both road and track purposes. Using the existing T150 six-cylinder engine, it was enlarged from 3- to 4-liters. It had a cast-iron block and an aluminum alloy cylinder head, along with three Stromberg carburetors and hemispheric combustion chambers. After much experimentation, development, and testing, the engine was officially rated at 200 BHP. The new T150C engine was fitted into a ladder frame chassis and mated to a Wilson pre-selector, four-speed gearbox.

The chassis was comprised of box-section side members connected by tubular cross-sections. In the front was an independent suspension setup with top links and transversely mounted leaf springs. In the back was an underslung live axle. The bodywork for the competition cars were minimalistic, light-weight, aerodynamic, and featured cycle fenders.

Work on the new competition cars began in late 1935 and was intended for the 1936 Le Mans race. By the 1936 season, four competition Talbot Lago cars were completed. In order to comply with homologation rules, the company had to build additional road-going chassis. Two of the competition cars were sold to customers.

The 1936 24 Hours of LeMans would have been the 14th Grand Prix of Endurance event held in mid-June. Unfortunately, it was cancelled due to workers going on strike. Without sufficient workers to modify the street for race use and an adequate number of officials to run the event, it was cancelled.

With the 24 Hours of Le Mans no longer an option, the new Talbot Lago racers made their debut at the French Grand Prix. Over the years that followed, the cars were raced extensively throughout Europe including the Mille Miglia, 24 Hours of LeMans and Tourist Trophy. After World War II, the cars remained competition, even able to earn a victory in 1953 as Goodwood. Other accolades to their credit include a victory at the 1937 French Grand Prix and the 1937 Tourist Trophy.

Improvements and modifications continued throughout the years, helping them remain competitive over such a large period of high-level competition. In 1938, the engine was enlarged to displace 4.5-liters and offered 210 horsepower. Three examples fitted with the larger engine were built, two were re-numbered T150C chassis. Their most successful outing was at the Paris 12 Hour race where they scored a victory.

The Talbot Lago T26 SS had been designed for Le Mans competition but unfortunately, would never see a victory at that race. The T26 SS and T150C models would lay the ground work for later Grand Prix and Le Mans victories for the company.

by Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2016

Related Reading : Talbot-Lago T-26 History

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....
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1938 Vehicle Profiles

1938 Talbot-Lago T-26 SS vehicle information


Chassis Num: 90203

This car, chassis number 90203, was the third and the final example built. The car made its competition debut at the 1939 edition of the 24 Hours of LeMans where it was piloted by Helde and Nime for Luigi Chinetti. After World War II, it raced to thi....[continue reading]

Chassis #: 90203 

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