With a duration of only 39 years plus a certain amount of prehistory, the story of the French brand Talbot is one of the rather short episodes in automotive history. Nevertheless, some of the vehicles created during this period belong to the absolute dream cars of worldwide collectors. This is due on the one hand to the special bodies of coachbuilders such as Saoutchik, Figoni & Falaschi, Pourtout, Chapron or Chausson, and on the other hand to the balanced technology package. The above-mentioned prehistory began as early as 1903, when the British company Clement Talbot Ltd began importing French vehicles of the Clément brand to Great Britain and sold them there under the brand name Clement-Talbot. One year later the company started its own car production. When they were taken over by the French brand Darracq in 1919, the brand name changed temporarily to Talbot-Darracq. Another year later, Darracq also acquired Sunbeam, creating the STD Group (Sunbeam Talbot Darracq). Until 1935 all three companies produced cars, which were sold under one or the other brand name, depending on the country.
In 1935, the group got into financial difficulties and was finally broken up. The Italian entrepreneur Antonio Lago bought the Talbot factory in Suresnes near Paris. From now on the era of exciting special bodyworks under the Talbot-Lago brand name began. Up to World War 2, mainly sporty coupés and convertibles were produced, but also some sedans and even two Grand Prix racing cars, which after all couldn’t be used in 1939 due to the beginning of the war. In the post-war period, the company concentrated exclusively on sports cars, which, with only a few exceptions, were all bodyworked by the factory itself. After serious sales difficulties, Antonio Lago sold his company in 1959 to the French car manufacturer Simca, which in turn was later taken over by Chrysler Europe and then by the PSA Group. Between 1979 and 1993, the Talbot name was revived once again. Since then it has nearly vanished from the automotive scene.
The final project of the Talbot-Lago brand was the 2500 Sport in 1955. This two-door sports coupé was also to be used in motor racing and should fit into the class of vehicles up to 2.5 liters capacity. For this purpose, a four-cylinder engine with a displacement of 2,491 cubic centimeters was developed, which provided around 120 hp. The body was designed by Carlo Delaisse. The new 2500 Sport in France cost more than twice as much as a Citroën DS. For the North American market, the vehicle was also offered as Talbot-Lago America with more chrome trim, the driver’s seat on the left-hand side and a different engine. They bought the V8 engine of the BMW 502, but had the diameter of the cylinder bores slightly reduced, reducing the displacement from 2.6 to just under 2.5 liters. Thus the car still fitted into the 14 CV tax class for cars in France. While only 15 units of the America were built, the 2500 Sport was produced 39 times, with Talbot-Lago delivering two of them without bodywork on special request of the respective customers.
Interestingly, the Paris auction house Artcurial is offering two examples of the Talbot-Lago 2500 Sport as part of their auction event during Retromobile at the beginning of next month. While one of these vehicles can be driven directly from the hall, the second car needs a littel attention. But first let’s take a look at the grey, excellently restored car with chassis number 140011. It was built in early 1956 according to documents still existing today with special pistons by Borgo, reinforced push rods, Zenith carburettors, a ZF gearbox, brakes by Bendix Lockheed and a steering system by Gemmer. To the equipment list were added a heating-defrosting device, aluminium spoke rims and a two-piece luggage set. From the outside the car was painted in ‘Metaliose’ grey 890 while the interior was finished in Griffin grey. On 28 February 1956 the car was handed over to its first owner Mr Longe. Between 1981 and 2008 the coupé was located near Lyon, then at a collector in Isere and finally at the current owner. He had an extensive restoration carried out at GT Label near Lille, which cost more than 100,000 € in total. At the Artcurial auction, the hammer price is expected to be between 260,000 and 320,000 €.
The second Talbot-Lago 2500 Sport offered by Artcurial was built in 1955 and has the chassis number 140006. It was delivered to M. Robillard in Paris at 9 November 1955. According to the factory documents it was painted black with a Havana beige vinyl interior and aluminium spoke wheels. In 1963 a young car enthusiast from Paris bought the sports car, whose brother and father each also owned a 2500 Sport. After a small collision, however, his family asked him to sell the car again before he would be involved in a more serious accident. He did so after the car had been repaired and repainted to the typical French racing blue in March 1964. Since then, this Talbot-Lago has been in the same ownership and was regularly driven until about 25 years ago. Then the sports car was placed in a dry hall, put up on blocks and left standing. Until 2017 the owner started the car at least once a year together with his nephew to keep the engine running. The mileage of indicated 46,509 kilometers is correct.
When Artcurial auctions the car, a package of components is also included. This consists of the original bumpers and the original radiator, which was replaced many years ago by a modified piece with electric fan. In general the 2500 Sport is in good patinated condition. The engine can be turned and should be able to be started with only a few works. Artcurial expects between 140,000 and 180,000 € as hammer price.