1938 Talbot Lago T 23 Short Chassis 2+2 ConvertibleSOLD
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Estimate: 120,000£-150,000£
Estimate: €174,000 - €218,000
Estimate: $240,000 - $300,000

AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Sold at a price of £111.750

115bhp, 4,082cc inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension, semi-elliptic leaf springs and live rear axle, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 116in. (2,950mm).

The origins of Talbot Lago can be traced back to the early twentieth century, when S.A. Darracq, financed by the Earl of Shrewsbury and Talbot, was created in England as a subsidiary of the French Société Darracq. Darracq had gained considerable international success producing automobiles in Suresnes, outside Paris. In an effort to reduce costs and streamline production the English Darracq company acquired Sunbeam in 1922. The resulting firm was renamed Sunbeam Talbot Darracq Motors Ltd, and now controlled the French Darracq branch, which had since been renamed Automobiles Talbot S.A.

The company, with the help of master engineer Georges Roesch, now stood at the forefront of numerous technological advances, among them an engine that reached 6,000 rpm with an incredible compression ratio of 8.5:1 – all at a time when 5,000 rpm was considered to be the limit. In 1928, Roesch developed the first pressurized cooling system ever offered in an automobile, to be followed by the 90 Series engine, which achieved a compression ratio of 10:1. However, by 1933, despite the company’s racing successes at Le Mans, Indianapolis, and the French Grand Prix, the sales branch in Suresnes was in danger of bankruptcy.

In fact, it seemed that Sunbeam Talbot Darracq was on its last legs when a young Italian engineer named Anthony Lago was appointed general manager in 1934. After World War I, Lago had worked in London for Isotta-Fraschini and was apprenticed as a mechanical engineer. After working with Sunbeam and Wilson, Lago ultimately found his way to Sunbeam Talbot Darracq, who sent him to France in a last-ditch effort to save Automobiles Talbot.

After assuming control, Lago hired an engineer named Walter Brecchia, with whom he created the first Talbot-Lago based on a Talbot-Darracq 3-litre Type K78. Although these first cars were nicely designed, they were hardly exciting driving machines, ill- suited for racing, and poor platforms for elegant custom coachwork.

Brecchia’s next engine proved to be a brilliant design, however. Based on the seven main bearing six-cylinder K78 block, displacement was increased to 4 litres, and a new cylinder head was fitted that dramatically improved both breathing and volumetric efficiency. It was a hemispherical head design, with valve gear actuated by a low set camshaft with crossed pushrods acting through both long and short rocker arms. Sporting twin Solex carburettors, the new six-cylinder engine produced 140 hp at 4,200 rpm.

The engine was also remarkably race-worthy as all three Talbot Lagos in the 1936 French Grand Prix finished in the top ten, battling with the Bugattis before mechanical problems slowed them down. The following year, Talbot Lagos came first, second, third, and fifth at the same race. Lago’s dream of producing one of the world’s greatest sports cars was now a reality.

Racing aside, it was the road cars that paid the bills and, in many ways, built the marque’s reputation for incomparable style. In the 1930s, the most prominent of these was the T23, available in 3,100mm and 2,950mm wheelbase options. The smaller variant was dubbed ‘Bébé’, or baby, and was fitted with a racing version of the Wilson pre-selector gearbox, a sportier suspension, and larger 150SS brakes. The 4-litre, race-proven six-cylinder engine was made available alongside the smaller 3-litre engine. The Baby Talbot was available also available as a 2+2 Cabriolet, with comfortable seating for four.

Of course the most remarkable of all T23s are those designed by the coachworks of Figoni et Falaschi. The Giuseppe Figoni-designed Teardrop Coupés have long been sought after for their unmistakable, streamlined designs. Much of his creativity, however, was passed on to other Talbot Lagos, and the T23 Cabriolet in particular.

It is believed that this particular T23 was originally delivered to renowned Grand Prix driver Louis Rosier at the time of his 1938 Le Mans entry, alongside a similarly designed T150SS Coupé by Figoni et Falaschi. The design of the car was partially Figoni’s, but its construction was completed at Talbot Lago’s workshops near Paris. The car was restored years later by a mechanical engineer over the course of 20 years. An avid Talbot Lago enthusiast, this gentleman painstakingly restored the car from the frame up, paying particular attention to originality and rebuilding the engine and gearbox. 2,000 hours were spent on detail work, rendering an absolutely show quality finish.

The car was subsequently purchased within the last ten years and driven over 800 miles through the French Alps before finding its way to Monterey, California, where it was purchased in 2002 and returned to Europe. From its louvred bonnet to the small, distinctive dorsal fin at the rear, the blue Cabriolet remains in very good overall condition.

From a design standpoint, the Talbot Lago T23 is an exercise in elegance, luxury, and race-proven performance. Alongside the likes of Delage, Delahaye, and Bugatti, Talbot Lagos represent the very best of French coachbuilt motor cars. Given the enormous sums commanded by Teardrop Coupés, this particular T23 Cabriolet offers Talbot prestige and a Figoni et Falaschi design at a more driver-friendly price range.

Reference Number 13178

as of 9/14/2007

Car 1938 Talbot Lago T 23 Short Chassis 2+2 Convertible
VIN 93465 
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