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1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Record Sport Coupe de VilleChassis no. 100238Engine no. 26347 image 1
1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Record Sport Coupe de VilleChassis no. 100238Engine no. 26347 image 2
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Lot 40Ω
1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Record Sport Coupe de Ville
Coachwork by Carrosserie J. Saoutchik
24 August 2018, 10:00 PDT
Carmel, Quail Lodge & Golf Club

Sold for US$962,000 inc. premium

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1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Record Sport Coupe de Ville
Coachwork by Carrosserie J. Saoutchik

Chassis no. 100238
Engine no. 26347


4,482cc Twin-Cam 6-Cylinder Engine
3 Zenith-Stromberg Carburetors
190bhp at 4,500rpm
4-Speed Wilson Pre-Selector Transmission
Independent Front Suspension – Live Rear Axle
4-Wheel Drum Drakes

*Unique one-off design by the famous coachbuilder Jacques Saoutchik
*Star of the Saoutchik stand and winner of 'Le Grand Prix du Salon' Paris, 1950
*Fresh documented concours quality restoration to original livery
*Verified by Talbot-Lago and Saoutchik historian Peter M. Larsen
*Never shown in any modern concours


THE TALBOT-LAGO T26

In October 1946, the Talbot-Lago T26 Record made its debut at the Paris Salon. The chassis and drivetrain were new, but the real jewel was its magnificent 4.5 liter six-cylinder twin-cam hemi engine that Anthony Lago had developed during the War. Not only was this motor lovely to look at with its polished Art Deco valve covers, it also gave exceptional torque, and with an output of 170 hp, it made the Lago Record one of the most powerful passenger cars in the world. For even more power, approximately 35 of the T26 Record chassis were factory fitted with the T26 Grand Sport engine that featured three carburetors and an aluminum cylinder head. This mighty powerplant developed 190 bhp and was more sporting in nature due to hotter cams, higher compression and lighter pistons. This special model was called the Record Sport by the Talbot factory. Chassis 100238 is one of these very rare cars.

CARROSSERIE J. SAOUTCHIK

T26 chassis 100238 was delivered to the Carrosserie de Luxe J. Saoutchik on October 22, 1948, by that time one of the most famous and exclusive carrossiers in France and indeed the world. Founded in 1906, Saoutchik had quickly ascended from being a mere coachbuilder to becoming the purveyor of the most exquisite coachwork that money could buy. Customers were everything from the glittering socialites, artists, demimondes and couturiers, who populated the chic salons of Paris, to royalty and heads of state.

A body by Saoutchik was not merely seen as an expression of wealth and possessing the necessary social graces, the owner of a luxury chassis equipped with a Saoutchik body, such as the famous music hall star Mistinguette, signaled that mere good taste did not suffice. Arriving at Chez Maxim's or The Ritz in an automobile by Saoutchik meant instant acceptance at the highest levels of chic Parisian society. From the late 1920s, Saoutchik became such a regular winner of the Grand Prix at so many of the French concours d'élégance that some of his competitors must have felt it was hardly worthwhile to enter.

Domination of these elegant gatherings in Paris, Biarritz, Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo continued throughout the 1930s, until France was invaded in 1940. After the war, the carrosserie soon developed an expressive, voluptuous and flamboyant style characterized by the superb flow of fenderlines, smooth surfacing, as well as extravagant chrome scallops and detailing that once again made Saoutchik bodies the toast of the concours d'élégance.

THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

The body of T26 chassis 100238 is something very rare: a genuine two-door coupé de ville, where the area over the rear seat has a fixed metal roof, while the space above the driver's or chauffeur's seat can remain open. Closing the interior against the elements is a neat solution where a full-width metal roof, which is stowed inside the rear section, can be pulled out – in the manner of a traditional coupé chauffeur, or town car. Once in place, the car is transformed into a closed coupé with full protection.

The three-piece grille design on the car is a recognized and iconic Saoutchik style for Talbot: a vertical tall and slim grille curving mildly up to the Talbot badge. The grille is flush with the bodywork and flanked by two small horizontal grilles that link the front end to the fenders. An elegant and well-balanced solution. Overall, the use of chrome was reduced in relation to other more baroque designs of the 1948 to 1949 period. Combined with the light gray body color, the effect was light, airy and graceful, yet unmistakably Saoutchik. Two teardrop Saoutchik "ventiports" mounted on the side of the hood towards the flat, single-pane windshield complete the refined ensemble.

The front fender flows in a continuous line back to meet the rear fender which features a fender skirt. Its dark blue contrast color also flows back and subtly enhances the curvature of the top of the fender. The only large chrome scallop on the body curves around the edge of the fender skirt and moves upwards in a scimitar shape to the level of the door handle. It is a gorgeous and opulent styling statement that few could pull off, but Saoutchik did to perfection. Proportion is indeed the heart of beauty. The dark blue color is repeated in a narrow line along the window sills, framing the curved B-window, just as it enhances the fenderline. As 100238 was designed specifically for the Paris Salon, chromed 18-inch wire wheels were mounted with wide whitewall tires, something rarely seen in period.

In total, this coupé de ville is a supremely elegant and restrained effort which deservedly won Le Grand Prix du Salon the highest accolade. An outstanding Saoutchik design that managed to eschew modern trends in pontoon bodywork while retaining an aura of up-to-the-minute smartness, for which the management of the Salon honored the car and its creator. Saoutchik took out a full-page advertisement in the December issue of the magazine France Illustration to celebrate.

It is not known whether Saoutchik ordered chassis 100238 from Talbot-Lago for stock or to a customer order that subsequently fell through. The latter was not an uncommon occurrence in the late 1940s. In any event, almost two full years would pass before the fully clothed chassis made its stunning debut at the Paris Salon that opened on October 5, 1950. Not only was the dazzling coupé de ville the star of the Saoutchik stand, it was also the object of special attention from Vincent Auriol, the President of France.

On opening day, Auriol and his entourage paid a high-profile visit to the Saoutchik stand. A smiling Jacques Saoutchik shakes hands with Auriol with the hood and grille of 100238 in the background. Then, Auriol is welcomed onto the stand with 100238 to the right. Behind are various ministers and VIPs, including the very famous carrossier Marius Franay. At the end of the show, the design of 100238 and its cool presentation in light gray and royal blue then received Le Grand Prix du Salon, the equivalent of today's Best of Show prize that is so coveted at all modern concours.

100238 did not find a buyer at the Salon, likely due to the car's astronomical price. In the summer of 1951, it was shown at the Concours at the Grande Cascade in the Bois de Boulogne. Period photos show 100238 with the famous model and actress Capucine perched on the front fender – in a matching light gray and royal blue haute couture outfit, of course.

Saoutchik sold 100238 on November 2, 1951 to Madame Yvonne Bozdogan-Brawand in Switzerland. In 1976, Tony Carrol, a Talbot-Lago enthusiast, who for many years kept the flame alive in America, published a small and painstakingly compiled registry of Talbot-Lagos that existed in USA. In this registry, chassis 100238 was listed as belonging to James Karupka of 36 Overbrook Road, Catonsville in Maryland – where it would remain for another twelve years. By 1988, Talbots were becoming collectible, and Stephen Cortinovis, an enthusiast from St. Louis, Missouri, managed to get hold of a copy of Carroll's registry. In 1989, he visited Karupka:

"He had purchased the car some 15 to 20 years before on the East Coast. He did not know how it came to the US but believed it had been in Switzerland in the 1950s because a Swiss oil change ticket was found in the car...when it stopped running, he put the car uncovered in his back yard. I found it there in poor shape but very complete with its engine, coupé de ville Saoutchik coachwork, and every bit and piece of the extremely complex interior, sliding roof etc. Mr. Karupka... was happy to sell it to me...I then shipped it to St. Louis where I evaluated the condition over time. At the end of a few months, I determined it was beyond my means and ability to take on the restoration... I asked around and somehow was put in touch with Richard Straman who eventually bought the car from me in mid-1989 and shipped it to California."

Sometime in the 1990s, Straman, who was a well-known restorer of Ferraris, sold 100238 to a new owner who never got around to restoring the car. In 2013, the car was put on the market discretely by Toby Ross of Ross Classics, still in unrestored condition. Shortly thereafter, it was purchased by the current owner.

In 2014, a comprehensive concours-level restoration was commissioned with focus on originality and authenticity. This involved the disassembly of all mechanical components. The engine and gearbox were rebuilt, and parts were remade to exacting standards when necessary. The body was stripped, some structural wood remade, while great care was taken to retain as much of the original wood and metal as possible.

The upholstery was replaced to a high standard using period correct color and materials. A new wiring harness was made by hand, and various rubbers were specially recreated. Over-restoration and over-chroming was resisted. Thousands of hours have been spent to bring this handsome and rare motorcar back to its former glory, and the restoration now presents in concours quality.

Any Talbot-Lago is a driver's car and a captivating, sporty experience behind the wheel. The proportions of the striking Saoutchik body are lovely from any angle and capture a level of classic refinement seldom found in a postwar car. 100238 truly is a genuine French grand routiére, and as such, has superb presence on the open road as well as on the concours field. Any T26 is a good deal faster than most people think, and its deep engine note and smooth delivery appeal directly to the sporting driver. The very rare T26 Record Sport packs even more power than the standard model. 100238 is eligible for most great touring events as well as the most important concours in the world.

The availability of 100238 is an incredibly rare opportunity for any collector of rare French cars. Not only is the car a one-off creation by perhaps the most famous of all the great French coachbuilders, it is a style that is seminal in the postwar development of the Saoutchik design language and was honored as such by winning the Grand Prize at the 1950 Paris Salon.

The car is now in its original livery and color scheme and looks just as it did when it mesmerized the crowds at the Salon. Coupled with the all-important fact that 100238 has never been shown in any contemporary concours, this is one of those very, very rare automobiles that simply ticks all the boxes.

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