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

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

In Part I of this two-part edition of Rare Rides, we learned about historic manufacturer Talbot and the ups and downs the performance and luxury car brand experienced due to outside forces. Today we take a closer look at the car which generated this story — a very rare T26 Grand Sport coupe.

Talbot-Lago introduced its new coupe in the fall of 1947 amid brewing financial difficulties. The existing T16 Grand Sport model donated its chassis for the new version, but Talbot wanted a shorter coupe. And they weren’t kidding — the T16 chassis was 123 inches long, but after engineers at Talbot finalized the T26 version, just 104 inches remained. This “Extra Short Chassis” entered series production in 1948. For customers who wanted more space, Talbot also offered a “Longue” version of their super short chassis, which measured in at 110 inches.

Notable for its performance, the 4.5-liter inline-six engine from the Record was tuned up to 190 or 195 horsepower. The engine’s considerable power was achieved through features like triple carburetors and a hollowed-out camshaft. Top speed was around 124 miles per hour, depending on what sort of body the owner fitted. Well suited for racing or luxury duty, the T26 was one of the most powerful production cars in existence at the time.

The dual-purpose of the T26 Grand Sport was one of the things that made it special compared to other Talbot-Lago offerings. With few exceptions, Talbot built its own bodies. When it came to the Grand Sport, however, rules were flipped. The T26 was sold only as a chassis, with customers selecting bespoke bodywork from the coachbuilder of their choice.

Production started out slowly, and in its first full year of 1948 just 12 examples of the Grand Sport were made. Talbot kept building the T26 at a very slow pace. Though the model continued through early 1955, only around 20 were made in total.

Talbot continued building cars until 1959, though it was under government debt protection after 1951. After it entered bankruptcy again, Mr. Lago reached an agreement to sell his company to Simca. His business taken away, Antonio Lago passed away the next year. Talbot and Simca eventually fell under the Rootes Group and then to Chrysler Europe, which released that last gasp Tagora under a renewed Talbot brand in the Eighties.

Today’s beautifully restored T26 currently lives in Germany, and is one of the Longue models. It has a four-speed on the tree and 97,000 kilometers on the clock, and asks $435,000.

[Images: seller]

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  • Downunder Downunder on Oct 18, 2019

    Interesting resides in Germany, has a speedo in km/hr, French language controls, and Left Hand Drive! Post war export model to the UK?

    • Steve S. Steve S. on Oct 18, 2019

      You probably meant "right hand drive". In Europe sports and sporting cars like these were usually right hand drive, because auto races are run clockwise around the course there; and the majority of the turns would be right turns and the driver could look directly into it instead of trying to see it over the hood. For example, all Alfa Romeo road cars were right-hand drive until the mass-produced 1900 series of 1950. So any car with the pretense of sporting or racing purpose was usually right hand drive regardless of country or whether it was actually meant for racing. This practice ended with the end of hand-built machines like this one and the beginning of mass production and export.

  • -Nate -Nate on Oct 20, 2019

    *SO* pretty . -Nate

  • 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).
  • Master Baiter New slogan in the age of Ford EVs:FoundOnRoadDischarged