By on October 18, 2019

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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20 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1954 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport Coupe – Supreme Elegance (Part II)...”

  • avatar

    These photos make this car look like a scaled-down model. Or else I need new eyeglasses.

  • avatar

    Tip: Enjoy this beauty for what it is. Do *not* click on the “Tagora” link in the context of all this goodness. (“You mean the pictures, or the comments?” “Yes.”)

  • avatar

    Just a lovely car. Thanks!

    • 0 avatar

      I learned lots of stuff writing this.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Is that the clutch pedal on the other side of the steering wheel column from the other 2 pedals, or is it just a ‘dead pedal’?

        • 0 avatar
          Uncle Mellow

          This isn’t quite “four-speed on the tree” but a Wilson pre-selector gearbox, as used also on the T26C Grand Prix car. I think you selected the gear you wanted, then dipped the “dead” pedal when you wanted the shift to happen. I believe Tony Lago had a financial interest in the Wilson company.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Thanks very much for that information, and you are quite correct. For those interested in militaria, Major Wilson was the co-originator of the ‘tank’ . His pre-selector gear boxes were in widespread use in tanks for many decades, as well as on London buses.

          • 0 avatar

            I’ve never gotten the impression that the Wilson Preselector was worth the trouble, but I do like the little quadrant-shifters used on them in Cords and Tuckers.

  • avatar

    This car reminds me of Virgil Exner’s 1954 Desoto Adventurer, although I assume it was a bit smaller.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Believe that this has been discussed previously on TTAC, how French autos are viewed with disdain by the majority of North American consumers.

    Yet the French produced some of the most beautiful and collectible of vehicles and introduced and/or popularized a great many technical advances/innovations.

    As well as Citroen and Peugeot in their ‘glory days’ and to a lesser degree Renault there were also a great many other French manufacturers who produced some glorious vehicles. Bugatti was of course a French organization, but there were also Delahaye, Talbot (Lago), Panhard, Facel (Vega), Hotchkiss, Matra, and the French ‘arm’ of Hispano-Suiza.

  • avatar

    She’s a beauty all right. Always was mesmerized by them as a child. Since the bodywork on this one was bespoke you say, do you know who the coachbuilder was? This link has a bit more detail:

    Here’s a quote:

    “In 1952 Antonio Lago decided to create an upgraded car that would be based not on the T26C (race car) with its transverse leaf front independent suspension but on a shortened Talbot-Lago Record chassis with coil spring fully independent front suspension, leaf spring and live axle rear, and the 4483cc six cylinder DOHC engine breathing through three Solex carburettors with power increased to 210bhp at 4500rpm. This was the Talbot-Lago Grand Sport Longue and it made its debut in 1953 at the Paris Salon. Wearing a body designed by Carlo Delaisse this was and is a unique looking touring car and it is a car that was designed to appeal to the knowledgeable enthusiast with a healthy bank balance.”

    That shift lever is for a Wilson pre-selector gearbox, btw. A smaller version of what London buses ran for decades since before WW2, and what made North American buses like GM bloody awful by comparison with a recalcitrant manual gear linkage running forty feet to the rear. Different era.

    So maybe not a bespoke body after all, either. When I was a kid growing up in England in the early to mid fifties, Talbot Lago (Lahgo) was like a mysterious faraway exotic. Always liked the double-barrelled names, so a few years later, Aston Martin became my favorite when Talbot tanked. Jags just weren’t the same to me at the time. Cheap. Then I was whisked away to rural Canada as an emigrant by my parents and had to contemplate rusty 1952 Plymouths, plain Chevs, mouthy 1957 Chryslers, and 1958 Oldsmobiles that looked as though they were the spawn of a horror movie. Not the same at all, I’m afraid. No idle daydreams or doodle-sketching those things.

    Thanks for the remembrance.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Reminds me of the 52-54 Nash-Healey Pininfarina.
    European styling with American running gear including the OHV six.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    That’s a real beauty – thanks for researching.

    I’m no connoisseur of antique car values, but the asking price seems worth it for such a rare treat.

  • avatar

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

    • 0 avatar
      Steve S.

      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.

  • avatar

    *SO* pretty .


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