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Lot 583: Talbot Lago T150C 'Lago Speciale' Cabriolet

Grand Palais Sale, Bonhams (7 February 2013)

On the dissolution of the Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq combine in 1935, Major A F 'Tony' Lago bought the Darracq factory at Suresnes and continued production, selling his cars as Darracqs in the UK and Talbots in France. The revitalised marque embraced both sports car and Grand Prix racing, and in 1937 achieved victories in the French Grand Prix and the Tourist Trophy; from then onwards it was an uphill struggle against the state-subsidised might of the German and Italian opposition. There were, however, many notable successes in the immediate post-war years, including three Grand Prix wins for French Champion Louis Rosier, and by the coming of war in 1939 Tony Lago had succeeded in creating a marque ranked alongside the very best in Europe. The first Lago-built cars retained the existing X-braced, independently front suspended chassis but were powered by a trio of new six-cylinder engines designed by 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. Wilson pre-selector transmission was retained on the larger models. The marque's ultimate pre-war road car, the 4.0-litre T150C, was available in two different chassis lengths: 2.65m as used for the factory's T150C 'SS' competition cars and 2.95m for the mechanically identical 'Lago Speciale' sports roadster. Despite its greater length, necessary to accommodate more opulent coachwork, the latter weighed a mere 130kg (59lbs) more than the former and was often raced by its owners. Power outputs varied between the 140bhp available to customers and the 155bhp attained by the works team. The model was revived in 1946 as the Record, now sporting hydraulic brakes, Wilson pre-selector gearbox and a 170bhp, 4.5-litre version of the classic long-stroke, cross-pushrod engine. For serious competition work there was the short-wheelbase Grand Sport, with 190bhp engine, and it was this model which formed the basis of the Rosiers' 1950 Le Mans winner as well as the monoposto Grand Prix car. Right-hand drive, like all quality French sports cars of the pre-war era, this Lago Speciale is one of 51 T150Cs produced (including the SS version). A factory-bodied cabriolet, chassis number '90039' previously formed part of the private collections belonging to Peter Mullin and William Marriot, and resided in southern California for many decades, benefiting from the dry climate. We are advised that the original engine has been replaced with an overhead-valve (non-hemispherical) Talbot Lago unit. Included in the sale, the original 'hemi' cylinder head is complete and comes with linkages, valve cover and all manifolds. The engine is coupled to a four-speed Wilson pre-selector gearbox. Some of the best-known 150Cs were bodied by Figoni & Falaschi but most, like this example, had factory bodywork. '90039' is noteworthy for its streamlined radiator shell, vertical grille and the fin down the boot: features unique to this particular car and similar to those of Figoni & Falschi, which are regarded as the model's ultimate expression. Reportedly undamaged and rust free, the chassis was professionally refurbished recently but otherwise the car is un-restored. Accompanying documentation consists of a USA Certificate of Title. We are advised that the car is tax paid in Switzerland (but not in the EU). Talbot Lago T150Cs rarely come to market, making this fundamentally sound restoration project of particular interest to discerning collectors. Sold strictly as viewed, it represents an excellent opportunity to acquire a potentially fast and competitive pre-war sports car belonging to one of Europe's premier marques and eligible for the most prestigious historic race series.

Lot Details
Auction Grand Palais Sale
Bonhams, Paris, France
Lot Number583
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price€180000
Hammer Price (inc premium)€207000
Condition rating2
Registration number
Chassis number90039
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors