1948 Talbot Lago T26T26 Record cabriolet par Saoutchik
- Rare and powerful 4.5 liter Talbot T26 chassis
- Unique one-off Saoutchik body with dramatic lines
- In Roger Baillon ownership since 1952
- Sold new to Salah Orabi and Princess Nevine Abbas Halim of Egypte
Talbot-Lago T26 Record chassis 100272 is another of the three momentous Saoutchik barnfinds in the collection of the late Jacques Baillon. The emergence of this extremely rare car is all the more remarkable, as it was believed lost. It shares the chassis as well as its powerful engine and mechanicals with Talbot-Lago T26 100239 presented in the sale, and is one of 208 T26 Records manufactured in 1948. The vast majority of these cars were given one of a number of factory bodystyles manufactured in-house by Talbot. 100272 is one of the rare instances where a Record chassis was sent to a prominent carrossier to receive a one-off body. The price of the Record chassis alone was an astronomical 1,165,000 francs in 1948. Saoutchik charged 2,500,000 to 3,000,000 francs for a full-size convertible body. When delivered, the price of admission for 100272 would have approached 4,000,000 francs, more than enough to buy ten complete Citroën Traction Avant!
In 1938, Pierre Saoutchik had worked on the design of the famous Hispano-Suiza Xenia, commissioned by André Dubonnet, currently in the Mullin Automotive Museum in California. This work had been a watershed experience for Pierre Saoutchik, and when he took over design duties at the Carrosserie Saoutchik in 1946, his initial styles took inspiration from the Xenia. This is evident in a number of design details on 100272. This includes the pointed hood with its shark-nosed grille, the rounded front fender shapes with integrated headlamps and fog lights, the fully encased flowing rear fenders, as well as the long and sloping rear deck.
100272 received considerable publicity in period, as the October 1948 Paris Salon editions of several French periodicals carried pictures of this remarkable car. One image in particular demands attention as it is a color photo which documents the subtle and impeccable original gray over dark blue two-tone color scheme, complemented by a leather interior in an identical shade of blue. The new owner will therefore have no issues restoring the car to its original livery should he so choose.
It has been widely reported that 100272 was first acquired by King Farouk of Egypt, and it was known as "the Farouk car" in the Baillon family. However, contemporary accounts assign first ownership of the car to His Excellency Salah Bey Orabi of Cairo, where Bey was an Arabic title comparable to Sir in England. Salah Orabi was married to Princess Nevine Abbas Halim, a member of the Egyptian Royal Family, and daughter of Prince Abbas Halim as well as great-great-granddaughter of Mohamed Ali Pasha. The couple lived a charmed life of privilege in the international jet set, but everything tumbled and they became social pariahs when King Farouk was overthrown in the Egyptian Revolution in July 1952 and forced to abdicate. Princess Nevine Abbas Halim is still alive and divides her life between Egypt and Paris.
On November 29, 1954 at 1.30 p.m., there was a hearing at the Tribunal de Commerce du Département de la Seine in a case brought against Jacques Saoutchik by Roger Baillon. In May of 1952, Baillon had purchased 100272 from the Carrosserie Saoutchik via an enterprise named the Pax Garage that acted as the middleman in the deal. The cost was 650,000 francs, plus 26,000 francs in delivery costs and having French registration documents made out. It seems that Princess Nevine Abbas Halim had sensed that trouble was brewing in Egypt and exported 100272 back to France shortly before the coup, where it was sold to Saoutchik.
On November 29, 1954, the Pax Garage was ordered to pay Baillon back, but was declared bankrupt. Baillon then tried to get his money from Saoutchik. However, that was also too late. On November 30, 1954, the day after the Tribunal de Commerce, the Carrosserie de Luxe Jacques Saoutchik was declared bankrupt. It should be noted that the precious dossier containing all the historical documents of the case and correspondence with Saoutchik and the Pax Garage are included with the car. In the end, Baillon simply kept 100278. He parked it in a shed on the grounds of his Chateau, and 100272 vanished from sight and knowledge. The car was believed lost until its astounding discovery this year, looking just parked here for the last fifty years, the keys still remaining on the dashboard under the spider webs.
Although 100272 has suffered somewhat from the elements during the ownership of Jacques Baillon, the car retains the majority of its original and unique trim pieces. It remains a unique one-off cabriolet with dramatic lines guaranteed to stop any passerby in his tracks. The two-tone color scheme coupled with the exquisite sweep of the fender line, the elegant body-mounted push-button door mechanism, the completely disappearing top which was signature Saoutchik, the massive chromed scallops as well as the toothy grille combine to create a sensational ensemble unlike any other. The opportunity to acquire this unique automobile in such untouched condition will never be repeated. Although 100272 is documented in the book Jacques Saoutchik, Maître Carrossier by Peter M. Larsen and Ben Erickson, the emergence of this extremely rare car is all the more remarkable as it was believed lost.
When finished, 100272 will become one of the most famous and widely photographed postwar Talbots, should the fortuitous new owner choose to show it. One thing is reasonably certain: no prominent concours could say no to displaying 100272 in pride of place.