Talbot Lago T23 'Baby' 4,0-Litre Cabriolet - 1938
Coachwork by Carrosserie Chauson
Chassis n° 93035
Les Grandes Marques du Monde au Grand Palais
Parijs - Paris
Frankrijk - France
Estimated : € 100.000 - 150.000
Sold for € 189.750
On the dissolution of the Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq combine in 1935, automobile engineer 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.
The first Lago-built cars retained the existing X-braced, independently front suspended chassis but were powered by new six-cylinder engines designed by engineer Walter Becchia. 'Baby', 'Minor', 'Major', and 'Master' models of varying wheelbase lengths up to 3,450mm were produced, while a 2.4-litre four-cylinder model was offered on the French market only. Lago had assisted in the development of the Wilson pre-selector gearbox in England, and this form of transmission was retained on the larger models.
Right-hand drive, like all quality French sports cars of the pre-WW2 era, this 4.0-litre example is one of the most desirable of T23s. '93035' is a 'Baby' model on the shorter (2,980mm wheelbase) chassis and one of fewer than a dozen of this series known to still exist. Finished in white (originally dark blue) with black soft-top and matching interior, this car was delivered new in Switzerland and has always stayed there (in Bern). The accompanying Registre Talbot document (issued 1997) lists three previous owners and the car's different registration numbers in the 1950s.
Acquired by the current owner in 1961, the Talbot was restored in 1965 and then used regularly until circa 1976; it then mostly stayed in the garage and has not been driven since the early 1980s. Sadly, the owner died last May and the car is now offered for sale by his children as a restoration project.
Typical of a Swiss-domiciled car, the Talbot is very clean and a good basis for restoration. The interior is good and has a nice patina, while the engine is clean and appears in good condition. Accompanying documentation consists of Swiss registration papers; the aforementioned Registre Talbot entry; and various archive photographs of the car carrying the late owner's 'BE 229683' numberplate.
Talbot Lago ranks alongside Bugatti, Delage, Delahaye, and Hispano Suiza in the pantheon of great French marques, and T23 chassis number '93035' represents a rare opportunity to acquire a fine example of one of the most prized of collectible European classics.