This professional image has a style that matches its subject: a 1949 Talbot-Lago with coachwork by Figoni & Falaschi.
It has what we believe to be a unique grille. These exotic cars often deviated from the classic Talbot-Lago radiator shell, but this one is especially dramatic, as is the rest of the car. This image in a 1949 French magazine is accompanied by a smaller picture of the rear of the car that shows its swooping fastback. The rear wheels are completely hidden behind spats with massive chrome embellishers that continue to the rear and climb up the curve of the rear fins. In our picture can just be seen the complete lack of side windows behind the doors; visibility has most certainly been sacrificed to style.
The caption to the original picture is enlightening: “[The car’s] line, sweeping to the rear, hides an enormous boot that embraces the spare wheels. Embedded headlights, rear wheels entirely covered, bumpers swollen into purely decorative forms. The streamlining is not without its disadvantages when the time comes to change a wheel.”
The Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport is a rarity amongst rarities. After the Second World War, the company produced a new design of engine by adding a twin-overhead-cam head to its earlier units, for use in its Record, made between 1946 and 1952, and the even more fabulous Grand Sport (1947–1954). The 4,483 cc six-cylinder produced 170 bhp in Record form and 190 in the Grand Sport.
The Grand Sport model was launched in October 1947 as a shortened chassis. Only 12 were made during 1948, the model’s first full year of production. A top speed of around 124 mph was claimed, depending on the type of coachwork fitted, and the car was built for luxury or racing – Louis Rosier, with his son, won the 1950 Le Mans 24 Hour race in a Grand Sport. Whereas almost all Talbot-Lagos from the late1940s were clothed with Talbot bodies, the Grand Sports were only delivered as bare chassis for customers to clad with bespoke coachwork from the finest builders, such as Saoutchik, Franay, Oblin – and of course Figoni et Falaschi.
This magnificent example of the French luxury Grand Routier combined with the finest coachwork is a final flowering of a dying species. French government policy created a post-war tax regime that savagely penalised owners of cars with engines above two litres in size, and an Economic Plan that favoured only five car manufacturers. Talbot-Lago was not among them.