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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the 1954 talbot lago t26 grand sport coupe supreme elegance part i

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]

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  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI coupe....it's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark V.....it was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).