In Part I of this two-part edition of Rare Rides, we learned about historic manufacturer Talbot and the ups and downs the performance and luxury car brand experienced due to outside forces. Today we take a closer look at the car which generated this story — a very rare T26 Grand Sport coupe.
Talbot-Lago introduced its new coupe in the fall of 1947 amid brewing financial difficulties. The existing T16 Grand Sport model donated its chassis for the new version, but Talbot wanted a shorter coupe. And they weren’t kidding — the T16 chassis was 123 inches long, but after engineers at Talbot finalized the T26 version, just 104 inches remained. This “Extra Short Chassis” entered series production in 1948. For customers who wanted more space, Talbot also offered a “Longue” version of their super short chassis, which measured in at 110 inches.
Notable for its performance, the 4.5-liter inline-six engine from the Record was tuned up to 190 or 195 horsepower. The engine’s considerable power was achieved through features like triple carburetors and a hollowed-out camshaft. Top speed was around 124 miles per hour, depending on what sort of body the owner fitted. Well suited for racing or luxury duty, the T26 was one of the most powerful production cars in existence at the time.
The dual-purpose of the T26 Grand Sport was one of the things that made it special compared to other Talbot-Lago offerings. With few exceptions, Talbot built its own bodies. When it came to the Grand Sport, however, rules were flipped. The T26 was sold only as a chassis, with customers selecting bespoke bodywork from the coachbuilder of their choice.
Production started out slowly, and in its first full year of 1948 just 12 examples of the Grand Sport were made. Talbot kept building the T26 at a very slow pace. Though the model continued through early 1955, only around 20 were made in total.
Talbot continued building cars until 1959, though it was under government debt protection after 1951. After it entered bankruptcy again, Mr. Lago reached an agreement to sell his company to Simca. His business taken away, Antonio Lago passed away the next year. Talbot and Simca eventually fell under the Rootes Group and then to Chrysler Europe, which released that last gasp Tagora under a renewed Talbot brand in the Eighties.
Today’s beautifully restored T26 currently lives in Germany, and is one of the Longue models. It has a four-speed on the tree and 97,000 kilometers on the clock, and asks $435,000.