Can we already be closing in on Monterey Week? I’ve barely had time to brace myself for the enormous influx of vintage racing giddiness that it brings each year. As a result, I’ll ease into the season by showcasing this repeat visitor to the Monterey auctions—this gorgeous 1949 Talbot-Lago T26 Racing Monoposto.
Gooding & Co counts this magnificent 1950 Paris Grand Prix winner among it’s featured cars for their Pebble Beach Auctions to be held on August 14 and 15. What a true beauty. This transitional immediate post-war period between the pre-war racers and the Grand Prix greats of the mid 50s is such an interesting time period for racing cars. They had much of the same visual aesthetic as the pre-war cars with their elegant boat tails and proportions that hide the enormous scale of the cars. The technology leaps of WWII were just starting to make the transition to civilian use. These immediate post-war cars present a fascinating period of technological transition. The beauty of the pre-war, mixed with the utility of the post-war.
This example, chassis #110006, wears her French blue paint with pride, having carried Frenchman Georges Grignard around 50 laps of the Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry in 2 hours 05 minutes 38.8seconds to capture victory; 4 laps ahead of Louis Gérard’s Delage. The race must have been grueling indeed, only Grignard, Gérard, and fellow Delage driver Marc Versini finished the race at all. The other 8 racers all dropped out with mechanical problems (including Stirling Moss at the wheel of the #17 HWM-Alta which dropped out with a connecting rod failure). It’s no surprise that #110006 wears the livery today, with Grignard’s racing number 8 and driver identification hand-painted ahead of the cockpit. Grignard even played a part in the restoration of the car many years later when he provided the spare parts he’d kept from his campaigns with the car. I love the notion of Grignard caring for the car so many years after they’d parted.
Even without the marvelous history, this Talbot-Lago would be no less attractive. The aggressive stance that would surely strike a chord with any American hot-rodder; the bodywork and brightwork that any warbird pilot would feel comfortable in; that exaggerated steering wheel that would feel small in a bus driver’s hands – they unite in a singular display of shear racing beauty and menace. I find myself looking again and again at the simple hand-painted graphics on the car (if you can even call them graphics), just their simplicity and touch of personality communicate such romance and history. It’s simply perfect. If you were to meet Gooding’s estimated bid of $650,000-$850,000 and take this Talbot-Lago home, I’m sure you’d provide a warm and inviting home for her for many years.
Unless, of course, you were the buyer of #110006 at Bonham’s Exceptional Motorcars and Automobilia at the Quail Lodge last year. The car was just as stunning as she is today, and was expected to bring an even more handsome sum, with an estimate of $1-1.3Million. Selling without reserve, though, has its risks and I’m sure there was a very disappointed owner with more than a few shed tears when the car sold for a mere $557,000.
So it’s a year later and that very lucky buyer is looking to see if their good fortune has lasted another 12 months, with an estimated $100,000-$300,000 turn on last year’s investment—not a bad return just for keeping a car in good kit for a year. I hope that this Talbot’s next caretaker doesn’t think of her as a mere investment, and that #110006 finds herself back on the track, not locked in a vault waiting for the next sale.