1949 Talbot T26 Grand Sport Le Mans (R)

Lot 21
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Estimation :
300000 - 400000 EUR
Result with fees
Result : 318 960EUR
1949 Talbot T26 Grand Sport Le Mans (R)
French registration title Chassis n° 100388 (please refer to the text) Engine n° 26499 Very nice realization by a French expert of the model Emblematic model of the 24 Hours of Le Mans history Eligible for historic competitions including Le Mans Classic Reliable and efficient mechanics Inimitable look, rarer than a Bugatti or a Delahaye Talbot, a great name of the French car industry, is a brand with a complex history, which can be divided into three periods: 1900-1920, 1920-1930 and 1934-1960. This last "life" of the brand is closely linked to the personality of its new owner, "Major" Antonio (known as Anthony) Lago. After studying engineering in his native Italy, he moved to England in the early 1920s as a distributor for Isotta Fraschini, and then as managing director of the pre-selective gearbox manufacturer Wilson, a company that had been in business for over a decade. He then moved to France as the new head of the Talbot factory in Suresnes, the French branch of the British Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq consortium. After having turned the venerable firm around, he bought it and deeply modified the range, in a concern for modernity and performance, with notably the very interesting T120 and T150. And, right from the start, he decided to relaunch the brand in competition, believing that motor racing was both the best test and an unrivalled communication tool... This is how the T150 C, the first Talbot-Lago competition car, saw the light in 1936, followed by the famous 4.5 litre single-seaters and offset single-seaters just before the Second World War. During the war, Anthony Lago was already working on the one that would symbolize the French revival from 1946 onwards: the legendary T26, with a 6-cylinder double camshaft engine with a displacement of 4.5 l and 170 bhp in its civilian version (Record and Grand Sport models). Block and cylinder heads made of Alpax (an aluminium alloy), magneto ignition, dry sump lubrication, feeding by three Zenith EX 32 carburettors: the racing engine which saw the light of day in 1948, derived from the standard engine, developed 240 hp! In 1949, the 6-cylinder engine, with a new dual-ignition cylinder head, also differed from the previous version in that it had a set of new Zenith 50 NHDD carburettors and was close to 270-280 hp. With a very low rpm and reduced fuel consumption compared to the supercharged 1,500cc engines of the competition, these Talbot engines show great strength and endurance. Two competition models were produced with this famous 2AC engine: the T26 C Lago Record, single-seaters for the Grand Prix (a formula that became F1 for the 1950 season), and the T26 GS, two-seaters that would race in the Sport category, as their name indicates. It is worth noting that both the single-seaters and the two-seaters are reminiscent of the Talbot series, Record and Grand Sport, in their names. If the T26 C managed to achieve some great successes until 1951, it was the GS chassis #110 055 that really met Anthony Lago's expectations, with an incredible victory of Louis Rosier (he would have driven 23 hours, relayed only 1 hour by his son Jean-Louis...) during the 1950 Le Mans 24 Hours, having covered 3,465 km at an average speed of 144.380 km/h. The following year, four Talbot Lago T26 GS cars took part in the legendary endurance race. Three of them retire, but the second place of the Mairesse-Meyrat team saves the honour. Six Talbot T26 GS were built, all of them with the characteristic two-seater bodywork of Le Mans. Once the wings and headlights were removed, these T26 GS could also take the start of the Grand Prix, alongside the T26 C. From 1952 onwards, these two-seaters were re-bodied as small cars in order to comply with the new Sport regulations laid down by the International Sporting Commission. Their racing career came to an end in 1954, sounding the death knell for the brand, which finally died out in 1958. Today, none of the five surviving T26 GSs has its original "Le Mans" bodywork... The Talbot illustrated in these pages was rebuilt by an enlightened enthusiast, who owned a wreck of a Talbot T26 Lago Record touring car. This car, which had once belonged to the Lyon pioneer Henri Malatre, had lost its bodywork over the years. A competition chassis and the specific components of the running gear were recreated from scratch by the model's specialist, a discreet French professional who had already produced a handful of admirable reconstructions. The engine, an authentic and rare Grand Sport with Alpax cylinder head, was rebuilt in the rules of the art with its three Zenith 32 carburetors topped with the inimitable "bazooka" and its sublime 6-in-1 racing exhaust, coupled to a conforming Wilson pre-selective gearbox. The car was then bodied in aluminium as a Le Mans 1050-1951 version and painted in a blue colour that matched a factory colour of the time. Since its rebuild, the car has covered a few thousand kilometres on the road. The Talbot we are offering for sale represents a rare opportunity to drive a 1950's racing monster, equally at home on the road and in races, whether endurance or Grand Prix (an identical car, one of the five authentic survivors, is regularly entered with the 1950's F1 cars with the Historic Grand Prix Car Association) when stripped of its wings, headlights and spare wheel. Finding a T26 wreck to start such a project, or finding a competent professional to rebuild a compliant racing chassis are nowadays impossible. The amateur who wants to drive something different (Talbot T26 race rebuilds are much rarer than a Bugatti Grand Prix or a Delahaye 135 S Le Mans) will be able to seize his chance to join some of the most beautiful historic grids in the world, starting with the Le Mans Classic where the organizer has confirmed that it was invited to start.
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