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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

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]

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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  • 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

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