In the automotive industry, car manufacturers come and go in their pursuit to craft memorable vehicles. In the case of Talbot-Lago, the French company had several ups and downs, teetering on the brink of bankruptcy more than once. Despite the inconsistency, Talbot-Lago produced some beautiful cars like the Talbot Lago Grand Sport and T26C. We’re looking into the history of the company to see what made them so inconsistent.
The origins of the company can be traced back to Alexandre Darracq, who founded Darracq & Cie in 1896. He built racing and ‘pleasure’ cars until 1912 when he sold the business to new owners. In 1922, the company name changed to Automobiles Talbot, though the cars were still branded as Talbot-Darracq.
Talbot suffered during The Great Depression, which led to Antonio Lago being appointed the managing director in the hope of reviving the brand. The owners weren’t able to defend against receivership beyond 1934. Luckily, Lago managed to complete a management buy-out in 1936 and set about restructuring the organisation.
For this transitionary period, new cars were developed by Walter Becchia. This included the 4-cylinder 2323 cc Talbot Type T4 Minor, 2696 cc Talbot Cadette-15 and Talbot Master. There was also the sports range that consisted of the Talbot Baby, Lago-Speciale and Lago-SS. Lago contributed his engineering expertise to develop six-cylinder engines, while the bodies were built by Figoni et Falaschi.
After WW2, Talbot maintained a steady supply of luxury vehicles in a climate of economic instability. 1946 saw the production of a new engine design, which was created under the leadership of Carlo Marchetti. The new engine went into the Talbot Lago Record and Talbot Grand Sport.
The Grand Sport was a standout car of the era. Noted for its speed, the motor could reach 124 mph. It had an elegant body and worked as both a luxury and racing vehicle. Jean-Louis Rosier drove a Grand Tourer to victory at the 1950 Le Mans. Only 12 models were built, making the Grand Tourer a coveted item among collectors.
During the 1950s, Talbot faced financial difficulties, but it didn’t stop them from ploughing ahead with another new engine. It debuted at the 1954 Salon de L’automobile de Paris. However, money problems eventually caught up with the Talbot. In 1959, Lago decided to sell the business to Simca.
Today, Talbot cars are popular collector’s items that fetch high prices at auctions. It demonstrates that the design behind the vehicles was top-notch.
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