Rare Rides: The 1954 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport Coupe - Supreme Elegance (Part I)

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Talbot’s history was a difficult one, fraught with adversity. Yet during the company’s earlier iterations it produced beautiful, luxurious cars like today’s Rare Ride. It’s a T26 Grand Sport coupe, from 1954.

What became Talbot started out as Automobiles Darracq, a company founded by businessman Alexandre Darracq in 1896. The firm produced successful racing and passenger cars, but by 1912 its owner wanted out of the business. Assets were sold, and Darracq continued producing cars in France under new management.

The company’s second owners fancied an identity change, and in 1922 the company took the Automobiles Talbot name. Darracq was phased out of the passenger car line, but the name recognition was kept on racing vehicles, now called Talbot-Darracq. Like all automotive firms, Talbot was hit hard by the Great Depression, forcing the company to seek new management in a bid to get them through lean years.

Antonio Lago, an Italian-British businessman and engineer, came aboard to turn things around. However, the ask was too high: Talbot folded in 1934 following a declaration of bankruptcy. But Mr. Lago was still interested in the firm he’d just failed, and ended up purchasing the assets while the company was in receivership.

In 1935, new entity Talbot-Lago continued making its old line of cars, but shortly thereafter new models trickled in to replace the old guard. Through the late Thirties, Lago introduced three new touring cars, and a couple of sports coupes as well. Clever with its engineering, Talbot-Lago created 13 different model offerings from four different chassis lengths.

After World War II, Talbot-Lago headed even further upmarket, with large, luxury cars joining the ranks of the racing cars the company built from the outset. With its new offerings, Talbot competed against the likes of Delage, Hotchkiss, and Delahaye.

Talbot continued at a slow and steady pace with its car production, changing up its styling circa 1952 when it adopted a Ponton style for its volume offerings (the Baby and Record). But the underpinnings were old, and though the new bodies added extra weight, they carried on with the same engines as the lighter outgoing models.

The company was in a financial decline, but there was one car spared from any cost cutting: the T26 Grand Sport. Next time, we’ll take a look at the rarest version of the company’s rare coupe, appearing shortly before the brand’s demise.

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • TheEndlessEnigma In '98 a guy I worked with came into work pissed, so pissed he was beside himself, so pissed he was beside himself and they were both pissed. He had bought a Seville the year before for his wife, a very buxom empty headed drink of water that was roughly 20 years his junior (she *LIKED* older men and he wasn't about to complain). He had gotten a call the afternoon before, she was broken down in the less than 1 year old Seville on the side of the NY Turnpike at the Galleria Mall in Cheektowaga. The car quite on her in traffic and it wouldn't start. They got it towed to a nearby Caddy dealer and they started checking out the problem immediately. As he told it, the car already had a little over 20k miles on it so the service manager was pretty concerned about a warranty engine failure, "These Northstar engines are bulletproof!". After about an hour at the shop the service manager comes to talk with them, "Uh, ma'am, when was the last time you had the oil changed"? "Oil change, don't they come with oil when you buy these cars?". Seems the engine seized up, right around 1 qt of oil, with a tar like consistency and full of sparkles, was found in the oil pan. The late '90s, a NorthStar engine, one year and 20k miles......never saw an oil change. Powertrain warranty claim? Refused. Engine replacement? You bet, $9900 in 1998 dollars.
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