1949 Talbot Lago T26 Record Cabriolet Registration no. VTO 26 Chassis no. 3432 Engine no. 26426
Car no. 100444
'The new "Lago-Record" was impossibly expensive but at 170bhp it was the world's most powerful production car, and a very fine one to boot.' Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, 'Lost Causes of Motoring'.
Talbot Lago'sultimate pre-war road car, the 4.0-litre Lago Special was revived in 1946 as the 'T26 Record' now sporting hydraulic brakes, a Wilson pre-selector gearbox and a 4½-litre, twin-cam version of the classic long-stroke overhead-valve engine producing 170bhp. Its 'T26' designation had been used before for the 4½-litre GP racers in the late 1930s and referred to the car's taxation rating of 26CV.
The Record was available with factory bodywork or as a rolling chassis for bodying by independent coachbuilders. Right-hand drive, like all French cars of quality up to this time, the example offered here has Talbot Lago's own undeniably handsome cabriolet body. With its 4½-litre engine and extremely elegant coachwork, this really was a 'Grand Routier' to be proud of and one that doubtless turned heads wherever it went. A proven chassis and running gear coupled to an under-stressed and long-legged engine made these very desirable cars in their day, and they still offer a very attractive package if one is looking for a car to enjoy on rallies and Grand Tours.
Copies of this T26's factory build sheets show that it was first owned by a Mr Galluzia. We are advised that the only lead to this family name is to be found on immigration documents in the USA, and as the vendor bought the car in the United States it is possible it was supplied there new. The car was bought from a dealer in part-restored condition, having previously formed part of the collection belonging to the late Ed (Edgar Allen) Morgan. Ed Morgan had acquired the T26, which was in a parlous state, circa 1980. His son was unable to recollect where it came from but recalled that it had been caught up in a divorce dispute and left in the garage at the marital home. Apparently, the ex-wife had extracted retribution by having it pushed out and left in the open for a number of years! Hell hath no fury... It is therefore reasonable to assume that the car was taken off the road in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Ed Morgan's son was able to provide many photographs of the restoration, which the current vendor subsequently completed.
Works carried out include stripping and overhauling the chassis, suspension and brakes; rebuilding the wheels with new chromed rims, hubs, spinners and stainless steel spokes; and re-coring the radiator. The engine was stripped and then checked over by Formhalls Vintage & Racing Ltd and fitted with new piston rings. When stripped, engineer's blue was found on the crankshaft, suggesting either a recent rebuild or very little use since new, notwithstanding the state the body was in. The cylinder head was stripped and fitted with new hardened valve seats and new inlet valves. The carburettors were overhauled, the inlet manifold dismantled and fitted with new unions, and the exhaust manifold given a special heat-transfer coating. The exhaust system is a new custom-made stainless steel item.
Rebuilding the gearbox was entrusted to Cecil Schumacher, one of the UK's foremost experts in overhauling the pre-selector type, and the prop shaft renewed. A new wiring loom was installed, the dynamo and starter motor rebuilt, and the lighting upgraded. Flashing indicators have been incorporated in the sidelights using double-filament bulbs.
All the instruments have been rebuilt by Patrick Henry with new faces made from the originals by Bedford Dials. They are OS instruments with cream faces and black numerals, and appear to be unique to this car, as the style has not been seen in another Talbot Lago.
The body was totally dismantled and the timber frame replaced using the original as a pattern (see photographs on file recording the entire process). The body has been re-skinned using repaired original panelling and a new bonnet made to replace the badly rusted original. Painting was carried out with the body off the chassis to ensure no over-spray on any chassis parts prior to re-assembly. All the foregoing was done by Sean Watson of The Old Coachworks, Over Wallop. Sean has painted many top-level classics, some of which have won awards at Pebble Beach. The aluminium moulding along the centre of the body was replaced with new aluminium extrusion specially made for the car (the vendor had another 45 metres of it!). All the brightwork has been re-chromed, the most critical parts being the bumpers, which were entrusted to Derby Plating, arguably the best in the UK.
The interior has been totally re-trimmed throughout in finest quality leather by a retired Rolls-Royce coach trimmer, the spring bases being made by Charles Blyth & Co of Castle Donington. Top quality wool carpet has been used, the edges bound with leather, and a new mohair hood made. 'VTO 26' has covered a minimal mileage since the rebuild was completed earlier this year and is presented in commensurate condition, taxed and MoT'd to June 2014. Accompanying documentation consists of the aforementioned photographs and factory build sheets, sundry restoration invoices and a more detailed synopsis of the works carried out and new parts used.
Representing the last glorious flowering of a great French marque, this T26 Record would be a welcome invitee at prestigious concours events around the world and is also eligible for important historic competition events such as the Mille Miglia.