1939 Talbot Lago T23Major 4-Litre Cabriolet
Year of manufacture1939
- One of the first models offered from Tony Lago
- Long-term ownership from 1971 to 2015
- Accompanied by restoration and service documentation
- Equipped with Wilson pre-selector gearbox
The Talbot-Lago T23 was a six-cylinder executive sporting car launched by the French Talbot company in 1936. The T23 was one of the first new models to appear after the automobile engineer Major A “Tony” Lago purchased the Darracq factory – and the model retained the X-braced independent front suspension as a result. Offered in varying chassis lengths, from 2,950 mm up to 3,450 mm, the T23 was also known as the “Baby Talbot.”
The Baby Talbot of the 1930s was powered by a six-cylinder engine, based on the K78 block. The engine featured a hemispherical head design, where a valve gear was actuated by a low-set camshaft, and crossed pushrods acted through both long and short rocker arms. With twin Solex carburetors, the new six could produce an impressive 140 hp at 4,200 rpm. The engine was also remarkably race-worthy, as all three Talbot-Lagos in the 1936 French Grand Prix finished in the top 10, putting up a good battle against the Bugattis. The following year, Talbot-Lagos came in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th at the same race. Tony Lago’s dream of producing one of the world’s greatest sports cars was now a reality.
The example offered here, chassis no. 93615, is a desirable Major model that has the large four-liter motor and beautiful Talbot-built cabriolet coachwork and is equipped with the racing-style Wilson pre-selector gearbox. The Talbot was acquired by Fred Steiner of Switzerland from a W. Meier, an architect in Zurich. Mr. Steiner would enjoy this car for many years, and a photo on file taken in the 1980s shows its intact and largely original condition. The car would remain with Mr. Steiner for decades more, and in 2014 the Steiner family undertook a complete restoration, performed by Swiss experts Autosattlerei-Reusser. Amongst the work performed was a complete inspection of the wooden body framework, where new pieces were installed using proper kiln-dried ash wood; a rebuild of the transmission; and a new top, headliner, leather upholstery, and carpeting for both the interior and luggage compartment. Trim found throughout the car is beautiful chrome-plated brass. The restoration is well documented by a collection of accompanying receipts, photographs, and correspondence.
Subsequently imported to the U.S., its current owner has undertaken additional work including an overhaul of the transmission and clutch, installation of a new interior and polished wheel discs, and overall detail work, including selective re-chroming. The resulting presentation is crisper than ever. Talbot-Lago ranks alongside Bugatti, Delage, and Delahaye in the pantheon of great French marques. Chassis no. 93615 represents a rare opportunity to acquire a fine example of one of the most prized collectible European classics.To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/am19.