Lot 241: 1939 Talbot Lago T150C 4.0-Litre Competition Roadster
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-litre 17CV and 4-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-litre T150, was available in two different chassis lengths: 2.65m as used for the factory’s T150C (Course) 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 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. Finished in blue with tan leather interior, and right-hand drive like all quality pre-war French sports cars, this T150C began life as a long chassis model. The car was purchased by Roy Sevier in Belgium circa 1990 as an all matching-numbers rolling chassis complete with engine, and given to marque expert Bill Barrott for conversion to short-chassis T150C specification. To assist in the process, Ron Smith’s 1937 French Grand Prix-winning T150C, ‘EUR 3’, was dismantled and a set of drawings, patterns and body templates made. The wheelbase and front/rear track were reduced to T150C dimensions and a body manufactured to exactly replicate that of Smith’s ex-works car. The only modifications incorporated were hydraulic brakes (an advantage the factory racers enjoyed from 1938/39) from a post-war Talbot-Lago Record and choke mechanisms for the carburettors. As the car was intended for historic racing, a fire extinguishing system was installed also. It is worth noting that this is one of the very few cars permitted to use telescopic shock absorbers in VSCC racing, as the factory fitted these prior to WW2, and that removal of the quickly detachable wings enables it to compete in racing, as well as sports, car classes. Completed in 1995, ‘JFO 798’ has been raced extensively by Robert Heelis, his son Toby and Peter Swete over the past 11 years. It has competed at some of the most prestigious venues in Continental Europe and the UK, including Le Mans, Spa Francorchamps, Brooklands, Silverstone, Donington Park, Cadwell Park, Shelsley Walsh, Prescott, Loton Park and Harewood with considerable success. Recent noteworthy achievements include taking part in the ‘Legends’ support race at Le Mans in 2005, when the Talbot finished 2nd in class, while at the April 30th/May 1st meeting at Donington Park this year the car won its class in the Pre-War Sports Car race, finishing 2nd overall. Recent maintenance, undertaken within the past four years, has included an engine rebuild by David Whitehurst and pre-selector gearbox overhaul by Tom Dark. Offered with an MoT to April 2007, Swansea V5 registration document and FIA papers, this magnificent Talbot-Lago represents an excellent opportunity to acquire a fast, competitive, well prepared and reliable pre-war racing sports car belonging to one of Europe’s premier marques and eligible for all of the most prestigious historic race series.
Bonhams, Chichester, Sussex
|Hammer Price (inc premium)||£134600|
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