- Rare and powerful 4.5 liter Talbot T26 chassis
- One-off Saoutchik body with signature lines
- Unique discovery, car previously unknown
- Never shown at any modern concours
There are barnfinds. And then there are barnfinds. Imagine the reaction when the corrugated siding of the lean-to came down and a long-lost Talbot-Lago T26 Record chassis came to light. And more: T26 chassis 100239 was not just fitted with a factory body, but with a unique and rakish fastback coupé design built by the Carrosserie Jacques Saoutchik in the rue Jacques Dulud in Neuilly-sur-Seine! This incredibly rare and outstanding automobile was one of three such Saoutchik barnfinds in the 60 cars of the Baillon collection. All three are superb examples of the swoopy and extravagant styles designed by Pierre Saoutchik after the Second World War. In truth, one can call it the barnfind of the century.
In late 1946, Anthony Lago presented his new T26 Lago Record chassis to the press. Derived from the pre-war 23 CV Lago Spécial, the Record rode on a chassis extended from 295 to 312 cm, fitted with a new independent front suspension with coil springs. It was a large luxury chassis with sporting pretensions in the grand prewar manner.
The engine was the heart of the sporty nature of the car. Capacity was 4,482 cc, which equaled 26 fiscal horsepower, hence the T26 model name. Twin camshafts in the upper part of the block, large valves, hemispherical combustion chambers, and good breathing ensured performance. Power was 170 hp at 4,200 rpm, which made the T26 one of the most powerful passenger car engines in the world at the time.
Several factory body styles were available, making the Record a grand routiére in the classic manner, and it looked the part with its conservative elegantly-proportioned bodies and long, long hood in the 1939 idiom. In spite of the availability of desirable factory bodies, Lago and Talbot offered this lovely new chassis to the carriage trade. Prominent carrossiers flocked to body it, including Figoni and Saoutchik. Both would create some of their most memorable postwar styles for the T26 Record.
T26 Record chassis 100239 carries one of these remarkable one-off creations, built with no concession to cost. Jacques Saoutchik's son Pierre had taken over the day to day running of the Carrosserie in 1946 and developed his remarkable talent as a designer. In early 1948, he had designed the extraordinary and voluptuous fastback coupé shape to clothe Lago's new T26 Grand Sport chassis that Roger Baillon particularly liked.
For 100239, Pierre Saoutchik developed this design into a svelte conduite intérieure, or coupé, for the longer Record chassis, thereby creating a large four-passenger car of extraordinary elegance. From the edge of the windshield, the roof slopes in an unbroken delicate curve all the way to the rear bumper, creating an impression of extreme length. The chromed accent surrounding the rear window slopes down on either side of the fastback as a chromed trim piece which contributes to an impression of lowness, while the semi-pontoon fenderline with a "hip" over the rear wheel makes the side profile dramatic. The design is further rounded off by a raised panel around the front wheel arch and fully skirted rear fenders. It is a design of great equilibrium and in very good taste.
This exciting style was a success for Saoutchik. Two Delahaye 175 chassis were bodied to this style in 1950. One of them, chassis 801566, was the star of the Saoutchik stand at the 1950 Paris Salon. No period images have survived of 100239, and this exceptional car has remained secret until its remarkable discovery this year. No one has seen this exquisite automobile for six decades, making its availability all the more unique and unrepeatable. Once restored, 100239 will be welcomed at any concours on the planet and be a serious prize-winning contender.