French automotive history is dotted with mythical marques that were masters at combining competitive results with the creation of overly luxurious cars for the rich and the famous. Just mention Bugatti, Delage or Delahaye, and any classic car lover starts dreaming away about victories at Le Mans or about impressive coachbuilt cars.
The history of Talbot-Lago is a very interesting one for several reasons, not only because this marque amply deserves its place next to those other mythical makes, but also because it is such a typical alignment of automotive alliances, as often in the early days of motoring. The early collaborations with Clment-Bayard and Alexandre Darracq and the separate lives that the Talbot marque has lived on both sides of the channel result in an almost inextricable tangle that further reinforces the myth.
A fascinating chapter in the marque’s history starts when Italo-British businessman Antonio Lago takes full ownership of the French operations, in 1935. Under his leadership, Talbot-Lago becomes involved quite succesfully in sports car and Grand Prix racing, all the while competing with Delahaye, Delage, Hotchkiss and Salmson in the market of the high quality luxury cars.
The most notable of these “vhicules de classe exceptionnelle”, as this segment was called in the period just following World War II, is the T26 Record. Launched in 1946, with a six-cylinder 4.5 litre engine producing 170 hp coupled to a Wilson preselector gearbox, this top-of-the-range, luxurious four-seater combines comfort with a top speed of 170 km/h. The “basic” T26 Records, produced as two-door coaches or four-door sedans, are already priced four times higher than the average car, but for those who want “a little extra”, exclusive coachbuilders offer the perfect solution.
Founded in 1900, the Swiss coachbuilder Carrosserie Worblaufen has created some of the most elegant coachworks on chassis from distinguished makes such as Alfa Romeo, Bugatti and Isotta Fraschini. In total, they have built 12 cabriolets for Talbot-Lago, of which only four on the T26 Record platform. The superior build quality and the tremendous level of detail is a result of over 1600 hours of work invested in each car that they deliver.
This particular Talbot-Lago T26 Record coachbuilt by Worblaufen is delivered new to a doctor in Zrich, in 1947. In the ’60s, the car changes hands but remains in Switzerland only to leave the country in 2003. The car’s current owner has this rare and luxurious car restored to perfection by Dutch restorer Geert Jan Peters in 2003-2004, after which he shows the car at the world’s most prestigious concours d’elgance. The car comes with a file containing its detailed history, including almost 100 photographs of its concours restoration.
This is a car that leaves a lasting impression. Elegant from every angle, with striking details further reinforcing its beauty, it has to be seen in the flesh to be fully appreciated.