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SLIDER: 1935 Talbot-Lago T120

One of the survivors of the difficult economic conditions of the 1930s was Talbot-Darracq.  The company was purchased by Major Anthony F ‘Tony’ Lago in 1934 from the Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq (STD) Company.  He already had an association with the STD Company as the owner of the gearbox manufacturer.  The STD Company had a strong reputation for performance, superior engineering, and durability – a reputation that Lago attempted to uphold.  The sale included the factory at Suresnes in France.

The first cars introduced for 1935 retained the existing X-braced, independently front suspended chassis, and were powered by a trio of new six-cylinder engines designed by ex-FIAT engineer Walter Becchia: 2.7-litre 15CV, 3.0-litre 17CV and 4.0-litre 23CV, the latter featuring inclined overhead valves set in hemispherical combustion chambers and opened by crossed pushrods.

The new Talbot-Lagos were known as T120 (3.0-litre) and T150 (4.0-litre) and were among the sensations of the Paris Auto Show.  The T120 engine was a cast-iron ‘six’ with a four-bearing crankshaft and pushrod operated overhead valves, arranged in line.  The T120 was available in two different wheelbase lengths: 120″ and 130”.  There was also a longer limousine version.  The T120 came with a four-speed Wilson pre-selector gearbox as standard while other chassis features included independent front suspension, semi-elliptic rear springs, an open prop shaft, spiral bevel back axle and hydraulic dampers. With 80bhp on tap, the ‘short’ T120 was good for a top speed of 75mph with the ‘long’ version only a couple of miles per hour slower.  These cars were all right-hand drive, as were all pre-war French cars of high quality.

During the early years of the war Walter Becchia left Talbot to work for Citroën, but Lago was joined in 1942 by another exceptional engineer, Carlo Machetti, and from then the two of them worked on the twin-camshaft 4483 cc six-cylinder unit that would lie at the heart of the 1946 Talbot T26.

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