Talbot-Lago T26 Record chassis 100272 is another of the three momentous Saoutchik barnfinds in the collection of the late Jacques Baillon. The emergence of this extremely rare car is all the more remarkable, as it was believed lost. It shares the chassis as well as its powerful engine and mechanicals with Talbot-Lago T26 100239 presented in the sale, and is one of 208 T26 Records manufactured in 1948. The vast majority of these cars were given one of a number of factory bodystyles manufactured in-house by Talbot. 100272 is one of the rare instances where a Record chassis was sent to a prominent carrossier to receive a one-off body. The price of the Record chassis alone was an astronomical 1,165,000 francs in 1948. Saoutchik charged 2,500,000 to 3,000,000 francs for a full-size convertible body. When delivered, the price of admission for 100272 would have approached 4,000,000 francs, more than enough to buy ten complete Citroën Traction Avant! In 1938, Pierre Saoutchik had worked on the design of the famous Hispano-Suiza Xenia, commissioned by André Dubonnet, currently in the Mullin Automotive Museum in California. This work had been a watershed experience for Pierre Saoutchik, and when he took over design duties at the Carrosserie Saoutchik in 1946, his initial styles took inspiration from the Xenia. This is evident in a number of design details on 100272. This includes the pointed hood with its shark-nosed grille, the rounded front fender shapes with integrated headlamps and fog lights, the fully encased flowing rear fenders, as well as the long and sloping rear deck. 100272 received considerable publicity in period, as the October 1948 Paris Salon editions of several French periodicals carried pictures of this remarkable car. One image in particular demands attention as it is a color photo which documents the subtle and impeccable original gray over dark blue two-tone color scheme, complemented by a leather interior in an identical shade of blue. The new owner will therefore have no issues restoring the car to its original livery should he so choose. It has been widely reported that 100272 was first acquired by King Farouk of Egypt, and it was known as "the Farouk car" in the Baillon family. However, contemporary accounts assign first ownership of the car to His Excellency Salah Bey Orabi of Cairo, where Bey was an Arabic title comparable to Sir in England. Salah Orabi was married to Princess Nevine Abbas Halim, a member of the Egyptian Royal Family, and daughter of Prince Abbas Halim as well as great-great-granddaughter of Mohamed Ali Pasha. The couple lived a charmed life of privilege in the international jet set, but everything tumbled and they became social pariahs when King Farouk was overthrown in the Egyptian Revolution in July 1952 and forced to abdicate. Princess Nevine Abbas Halim is still alive and divides her life between Egypt and Paris. On November 29, 1954 at 1.30 p.m., there was a hearing at the Tribunal de Commerce du Département de la Seine in a case brought against Jacques Saoutchik by Roger Baillon. In May of 1952, Baillon had purchased 100272 from the Carrosserie Saoutchik via an enterprise named the Pax Garage that acted as the middleman in the deal. The cost was 650,000 francs, plus 26,000 francs in delivery costs and having French registration documents made out. It seems that Princess Nevine Abbas Halim had sensed that trouble was brewing in Egypt and exported 100272 back to France shortly before the coup, where it was sold to Saoutchik. On November 29, 1954, the Pax Garage was ordered to pay Baillon back, but was declared bankrupt. Baillon then tried to get his money from Saoutchik. However, that was also too late. On November 30, 1954, the day after the Tribunal de Commerce, the Carrosserie de Luxe Jacques Saoutchik was declared bankrupt. It should be noted that the precious dossier containing all the historical documents of the case and correspondence with Saoutchik and the Pax Garage are included with the car. In the end, Baillon simply kept 100278. He parked it in a shed on the grounds of his Chateau, and 100272 vanished from sight and knowledge. The car was believed lost until its astounding discovery this year, looking just parked here for the last fifty years, the keys still remaining on the dashboard under the spider webs. Although 100272 has suffered somewhat from the elements during the ownership of Jacques Baillon, the car retains the majority of its original and unique trim pieces. It remains a unique one-off cabriolet with dramatic lines guaranteed to stop any passerby in his tracks. The two-tone color scheme coupled with the exquisite sweep of the fender line, the elegant body-mounted push-button door mechanism, the completely disappearing top which was signature Saoutchik, the massive chromed scallops as well as the toothy grille combine to create a sensational ensemble unlike any other. The opportunity to acquire this unique automobile in such untouched condition will never be repeated. Although 100272 is documented in the book Jacques Saoutchik, Maître Carrossier by Peter M. Larsen and Ben Erickson, the emergence of this extremely rare car is all the more remarkable as it was believed lost. When finished, 100272 will become one of the most famous and widely photographed postwar Talbots, should the fortuitous new owner choose to show it. One thing is reasonably certain: no prominent concours could say no to displaying 100272 in pride of place. Peter Larsen The Anglo-French STD (Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq) combine collapsed in 1935. The French Talbot company was acquired and reorganised by Venetian-born engineer Antonio Lago (1893–1960) and after that, the "Talbot-Lago" name was used internationally. On the home market the cars still bore the Talbot badge that they had carried since 1922, which was when, in France, the "Talbot-Darracq" name had given way to "Talbot".At the same time, the British interests of Talbot were taken over by the Rootes Group and the parallel use of the Talbot brand in France and Britain ended. Talbot-Lago cars sold in Britain were now to be badged as Darracqs.For 1935, the existing range continued in production but from 1936 these were steadily replaced with cars designed by Walter Becchia, featuring transverse leaf sprung independent suspension. These included the 4-cylinder 2323 cc (13CV) Talbot Type T4 "Minor", a surprise introduction at the 1937 Paris Motor Show, and the 6-cylinder 2,696 cc (15CV) Talbot "Cadette-15", along with and the 6-cylinder 2,996 cc or 3,996 cc (17 or 23CV) Talbot "Major" and its long-wheelbase version, the Talbot "Master": these were classified as Touring cars (voitures de tourisme).There was also in the second half of the 1930s a range of Sporting cars (voitures de sport) which started with the Talbot "Baby-15", mechanically the same as the "Cadette-15" but using a shorter slightly lighter chassis. The Sporting Cars range centred on the 6-cylinder 2,996 cc or 3,996 cc (17 or 23CV) Talbot "Baby" and also included the 3,996 cc (23CV) 23 and sporting Lago-Spéciale and Lago-SS models, respectively with two and three carburettors, and corresponding increases in power and performance. The most frequently specified body for the Lago-SS was built by Figoni et Falaschi and featured a particularly eye-catching aerodynamic form.Lago was an excellent engineer who developed the existing six-cylinder engine into a high-performance 4-litre one. The sporting six-cylinder models had a great racing history. The bodies—such as of T150 coupé—were made by excellent coachbuilders such as Figoni et Falaschi or Saoutchik.After the war, the company continued to be known both for successful high-performance racing cars and for large luxurious passenger cars, with extensive sharing of chassis and engine components between the two. Nevertheless, the period was one of economic stagnation and financial stringency. The company had difficulty finding customers, and its finances were stretched.In 1946, the company began production of a new engine design, based on earlier units but with a new cylinder head featuring a twin overhead camshaft. This engine, designed under the leadership of Carlo Marchetti, was in many respects a new engine. A 4483 cc six-cylinder in-line engine was developed for the Talbot Lago Record (1946–1952) and for the Talbot Grand Sport 26CV (1947–1954). These cars were priced against large luxurious cars from the likes of Delahaye, Delage, Hotchkiss and Salmson. Talbot would remain in the auto-making business for longer than any of these others, and the Talbot name had the further dubious distinction of a resurrection in the early 1980s.The T26 Grand Sport (GS) was first displayed in public in October 1947 as a shortened chassis, and only 12 were made during 1948 which was the models’s first full year of production. The car was noted for its speed. The engine which produced 170 hp in the Lago Record was adapted to provide 190 bhp (140 kW) or, later, 195 bhp (145 kW) in the GS, and a top speed of around 200 km/h (124 mph) was claimed, depending on the body that was fitted. The car was built for either racing or luxury and benefited directly from Talbot’s successful T26C Grand Prix car. As such it was expensive, rare and helped Louis Rosier with his son to win the LeMans 24 Hour race in 1950. The GS replaced the Lago-Record chassis which was named for its remarkable top speed. Having a 4.5-litre inline-6 aluminum cylinder head and triple carburetor from the T26 the Grand Prix cars, the GS was one of the world’s most powerful production cars. Chassis details were similar to the Grand Prix cars, but it was longer and wider. It came it two wheelbase lengths -104 and 110 inches (2,800 mm).Almost all the Talbots sold during the late 1940s came with Talbot bodies, constructed in the manufacturer’s extensive workshops. The T26 Grand Sport (GS) was the exception, however, and cars were delivered only as bare chassis, requiring customers to choose bespoke bodywork from a specialist coachbuilder. The GS was a star turn in a dull world and coachbuilders such as Saoutchik, Franay, and Figoni et Falaschi competed to trump Talbot’s own designers with elaborately elegant bodiesAt the 1954 Salon de L’Automobile de Paris, Talbot-Lago presented their last new engine: the new four-cylinder still had the typical twin laterally mounted camshafts, although it was upgraded to five main bearings. The new 120 PS (88 kW) 2,491 cc engine was called the T14 LS, but it did not have a car to go in until May 1955 when the Talbot-Lago 2500 Coupé T14 LS was finally presented. The first car had all-aluminium bodywork, but later cars used more steel. 54 of these coupés were built, but they proved hard to sell – the stylish bodywork couldn’t quite hide the thirties’ underpinnings, and the rough engine offered little elasticity nor longevity.Lacking the resources to engineer the necessary improvements, for 1957 Talbot-Lago had to resort to buying in an engine. They chose the V8 2580 cc made available by BMW, albeit with the bore diameter slightly reduced, to 72.5 mm, which gave rise to a 2476 cc engine displacement, positioning the car (just) within the 14CV car tax band. Reflecting the company’s export plans, Talbot now rebranded the car as the "Talbot Lago America" and (finally) came into line with other French automakers by placing the driver on the left side of the car. Unfortunately market response remained lukewarm, however, and only about a dozen of the BMW powered Talbot Lago Americas were produced. It was now, in the early summer of 1958, that Tony Lago decided to accept an offer from Simca president, Henri Pigozzi, for the sale of the Talbot brand to Simca. The sale of the business went ahead in 1959.With the sale of the business to Simca, the new owners found themselves with a handful of the final Talbot Lago Americas which were awaiting engines. There was now no question of Simca being permitted, or wishing, to produce cars with BMW engines, and the only solution available was to fit the last batch of cars with Simca’s own 2351 cc V8. This engine had its roots in 1930s Detroit, and was originally provided by Ford to give the (then) Ford Vedette produced by their French subsidiary a flavor of the driving experience offered by an unstressed US style V8 sedan. It was by no stretch of the imagination an engine for a sports car, and even with a second carburetor produced only 95 bhp (71 kW), as against the 138 bhp (103 kW) of the BMW-engined cars from the previous year’s production. Claimed top speed was now 165 km/h (103 mph) in place of the 200 km/h (124 mph) listed the previous year. At the 1959 Paris Motor Show a stand had been booked for what was by now the Simca-Talbot brand, but a late decision was taken not to exhibit a Lago America and the stand was instead given up to a hastily constructed "motorshow special" prototype of which, after the motor show, nothing more would be heard.[Sales data by model were kept confidential, possibly in connection with the company’s financial difficulties, but the overall totals for the early 1950s tell a dire story. The Suresnes plant produced 155 cars in 1947, an output which increased by 23 in 1948. 433 cars were produced in 1950, but this then fell to 80 in 1951 and to 34 in 1952. In 1953 it is thought that the company turned out just 13 of the 26CV Record model and 4 of the 15 CV Babys. During the rest of the decade volumes did not recover significantly; no more than 54 of the T14 LS were built in 1955 and 1956.As the company’s commercial trajectory implies, the years following the end of the war were marked by the slow financial collapse of Anthony Lago’s Talbot company. Other luxury automakers whose glory years had been the 1930s fared no better in the 1940s and 1950s than Talbot, with Delage, Delahaye, Hotchkiss and Bugatti disappearing from the car business while Panhard, nimbly if slightly improbably, reinvented itself as a manufacturer of small fuel efficient cars. Customers with enough money to spend on a luxury car were hard to find, and even among those with sufficient funds, in a country where well into the 1950s the Communists, buoyed by the heroic role played by some of their leaders during the years of Resistance, regularly polled 25% of the vote in national elections, there was little of the “live for today: pay later” spirit that had supported extravagant spending patterns in the 1930s. Government policy supported the austerity by creating a post-war tax regime that savagely penalised owners of cars with engines above two litres in size, and an Economic Plan, the Pons Plan, which bestowed government favour (and allocations of materials still in short supply such as steel) on just five automakers, these being the businesses that became France’s big five automakers in the 1950s and early 60s. For France’s other luxury automakers, meanwhile, including Talbot, the tide had simply gone out.The money ran out, and Anthony Lago was obliged to seek court protection from his creditors, under a procedure known at that time as a ”Dépôt de bilan”. On 6 March 1951 the court agreed a debt moratorium which permitted a limited restart to production at the company’s Suresnes plant, but the affair provided unwelcome publicity for Talbot’s cash flow problems, and the company now experienced increased difficulty in obtaining credit. Production was also limited by the extent to which it had been necessary to cut the workforce, and by the reputational damage caused by reports of the whole process.The business staggered on till 1959, but never had the financial strength to support the development and production of its last model, the Talbot-Lago 2500 Coupé T14 LS, launched after a lengthy gestation in May 1955. In 1958 Lago decided to throw in the sponge and put the business up for sale. An offer was received from Henri Pigozzi under the terms of which the remains of the Talbot business would become part of Simca. In order to avoid bankruptcy, Lago agreed to sell the business on the terms proposed by the Simca president-director, a fellow Italian expatriate. Talbot-Lago was transferred to Simca in 1959.Despite the sorry state of the Talbot business during the preceding ten years, commentators suggest that Pigozzi got a good bargain, receiving at Suresnes an industrial site and buildings worth many times the amount paid, along with a brand name that still resonated strongly with anyone old enough to remember the glory days of Talbot.Tony Lago died in 1960.
Tagged: , automobile , rétromobile , design , 1930 , streamline , aerodynamic , dream , dreamcar , luxurycar , paris , fashionable , carrossier , car , mythic , delahaye , collection , baillon