(1935 - 1958)
Major Tony Lago created the Talbot-Lago marque in 1935 when he purchased the French branch of the bankrupted Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq combine. It was following the Rootes buy-out that Tony Lago decided to purchase Darracq, and immediately set about introducing a new range of six-cylinder cars. His new engines featured overhead valves
and, at 3996cc, were dubbed the “Baby 4 litre”, but it was the “Lago Special” that would bring the company to the public’s attention. This special sports racing version featured a 165bhp engine and was good for a top speed in excess of 110mph (177kmh) and would prove immediately successful in competitions, taking out the first three places at the 1937 Montlhery sports car Grand Prix
and the Tourist Trophy race at Donington Park.
But despite the touring cars being well matched to the specialist body styles of the period, strangely they were considered by most to not be as ‘chic’ as the Delahayes. Undeterred, Tony Lago would continue to refine the wonderful 4 litre engine, and in 1938 the size was increased to 4.5 litres; racing successes for the Lago Special would continue with a win in that years Paris 12 hour race. The Lago Talbot road car of 1947 used a 170bhp engine, with the bodies usually being supplied by specialist coachbuilders in a wide variety of styles – but mostly very traditional for the day.
That year Rosier won the “Albi” race while Chiron won the French GP, and at Comminges the big Talbot Lago’s came in first, second and third places! The company would enjoy its peak production figures ever in 1950
, with some 433 cars being manufactured in total. To top off a successful year, Rosier would use a two-seater sports version of the racing car to win the 1950 Le Mans
race. Pierre Levegh would come ever so close to making it back to back Le Mans victories for the marque in 1951
; driving single handed for more than 22 hours, it was unfortunate and somewhat unexpected (given the engines prior reputation for reliability) that Levegh’s engine would blow.
How quickly the fortunes of the company would change, with 1951
production figures falling to a mere 80! Financial constraints would continually inhibit the companies ability to develop better engines and more competitive cars – and so it came as no surprise that 1953
offered no race track success. This was no doubt very disappointing for the engineers, for despite their financial constraints they had not only developed a new lightweight car, they had fitted Maserati engine! In 1958
Tony Lago reluctantly allowed his company to be absorbed by Simca, the last cars to have any resemblance to the marque using a Ford side-valve V8 as used on the Simca Vedette. Tony Lago would die the following year, and inevitably the heritage of Talbot-Lago would diminish over the following years as Simca was purchased by Chrysler and that in turn by the Rootes group.
Talbot Lago History