1936 Talbot Lago T23
From the collection of the late Barry Burnett1936 Talbot Lago T23 4.0-Litre Le Mans Tourer Re-creationCoachwork by Weston CoachworksRegistration no. 754 UXJChassis no. 930200465169
On the dissolution of the Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq combine in 1935, automobile engineer Major A F 'Tony' Lago bought the Darracq factory at Suresnes and continued production, selling his cars as Darracqs in the UK and Talbots in France. The revitalised marque embraced both sports car and Grand Prix racing, and in 1937 achieved victories in the French Grand Prix and the Tourist Trophy; from then onwards it was an uphill struggle against the state-subsidised might of the German and Italian opposition. There were, however, many notable successes in the immediate post-war years, including three Grand Prix wins for French Champion Louis Rosier.
The first Lago-built cars retained the existing X-braced, independently front suspended chassis, but were powered by new six-cylinder engines of 3.0 and 4.0 litres designed by engineer Walter Becchia. 'Baby', 'Minor', 'Major', and 'Master' models of varying wheelbase lengths up to 3,450mm were produced, while a 2.4-litre four-cylinder model was offered on the French market only. Lago had assisted in the development of the Wilson pre-selector gearbox in England, and this form of transmission was retained on the larger models. The marque's ultimate pre-war road car, the 4.0-litre T150 Lago Special, featuring inclined overhead valves set in hemispherical combustion chambers and opened via crossed pushrods, produced 140bhp and was good for more than 100mph, while for competition purposes there was the T150C on the shortest available wheelbase of 2,650mm.
Right-hand drive, like all quality French sports cars of the pre-WW2 era, this 4.0-litre example was built by VSCC stalwart Peter Wigglesworth. In the early 2000s, Peter went to France with friend and collector John Guyatt, and met a respected figure within the Talbot Lago Owners Club who owned a Talbot Lago T23 long-wheelbase rolling chassis. The car consisted of the chassis, engine, gearbox, rear xxle, most of the instrumentation, and the original bulkhead which was stamped with correct Talbot Lago number stamping.
Upon purchase, Peter commenced the restoration to T23 Le Mans specification and shortened the chassis appropriately. Mick Sharp of Weston Coachworks, Derby then re-bodied the car in the style of one of the Talbot Lago Le Mans tourers. The interior was re-upholstered by respected pre-war trimmer Ron 'Ozzy' Osborne, since retired. The engine was fully rebuilt and the gearbox overhauled by renowned specialist, Cecil Schumacher. Once completed, the rebuilt Talbot Lago was used enthusiastically by Peter, who recently told Bonhams: "we found that the car had very impressive performance and the handling was superb".Sold to Barry Burnett in the mid-2000s, '754 UXJ' has recently been re-commissioned by Edwards Motorsport ready for sale. It is offered with a V5 document but no other paperwork.
Talbot Lago ranks alongside Bugatti, Delage, Delahaye, and Hispano Suiza in the pantheon of great French marques, and this example represents an exciting opportunity to own a fine replica of one of its most highly prized models at a fraction of the cost of an original.