1954 Talbot-Lago T26 GSL
- Powerful and rare Talbot-Lago T26 with large 4.5-liter engine
- Older restoration that has been recently freshened
- Magnificent and beautifully styled French grand routiére
In 1952, the Grand Prix-derived short-wheelbase Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport chassis with transverse leaf-front suspension was quietly dropped. To create a new car, Anthony Lago redesigned, lightened, and shortened the existing Lago Record passenger car chassis to a wheelbase of 2.90 meters. It was a good choice, as its independent front coil-spring suspension had excellent road manners and sporting driving qualities.
The magnificent six-cylinder T26 engine was given three inverted Solex carburetors but otherwise left alone, as it was already one of the most powerful and strongest passenger car engines in the world. Power was up by 20 horsepower to 210 at 4,500 rpm. On these gratifying underpinnings, a slinky factory body was mounted to a design by Carlo Delaisse, who can be seen as a French Giovanni Michelotti.
The new model was named the T26 GSL, or Grand Sport Longue, and made its debut at the Paris Salon in October 1953. It was a very elegant car in the French manner, but not a commercial success, and the model was short-lived: production ended in late 1954 or early 1955, a mere 12–18 months after its debut. Somewhere between 19 and 21 T26 GSLs were built, of which only 11 to 13 survive. As the Lago Record was out of production by then, these were the last automobiles to be fitted with the great T26 engine. The passing of the big Talbot marked the end of an era in French luxury car manufacture.
Chassis number 111006 was the recipient of a high-quality restoration approximately 25 years ago. It has since been in the hands of caring long-term owners, until the current owner acquired the car about five years ago. The previous owner had attended to fettling the engine, fitting a new exhaust and tires, as well as a new original style carpet. Since then, current owner had the car completely rewired, with all instruments and electricals rebuilt. The brake system has been rebuilt, while the transmission has been serviced. The engine was serviced, including replacement of the rear crank seal and rebuilding of the oil pump. Additionally, the suspension was also addressed and rebuilt, including replacement of the rear springs to properly level the car. Cosmetically, the interior was redone in the original color, while the engine compartment and trunk have been freshened and the rear windows replaced. Finally, the car was repainted in a pleasing burgundy tone that offsets the cognac leather to perfection.
Like all Talbot-Lago big sixes, chassis number 111006 is fitted with the special Wilson pre-selector gearbox that enables the driver to shift with an almost spooky speed when compared to the wide-ratio manuals of other early 1950s cars.
A Talbot-Lago T26 GSL is a powerful sporting machine and an exhilarating car to drive, accompanied by the throaty powerful sound of its big Grand Prix-derived engine. It is not only very rare and lovely to contemplate, but also a large and magnificent grand routiére in the old style with classic fast-car road manners that speak deeply to the knowledgeable enthusiast.