The Talbot Lago story began in 1935 with the end of the Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq alliance. Major A F ‘Tony’ Lago, born in Venice, acquired the Darracq factory in Suresnes, continuing to sell cars as Darracqs in the UK and Talbots in France.

The brand quickly embraced sports and Grand Prix racing, winning the 1937 French Grand Prix and the Tourist Trophy. Despite strong competition from German and Italian teams, Talbot Lago achieved significant success after the war, including three Grand Prix victories for French Champion Louis Rosier and a win at Le Mans.

Initially, Lago-built cars kept the existing X-braced, independently front-suspended chassis, but with new six-cylinder engines designed by Walter Becchia. The sporting versions featured inclined overhead valves in hemispherical combustion chambers, operated by a single camshaft through pushrods.

The pre-war 4.0-liter Lago Special produced 165bhp, reaching speeds over 160km/h (100mph). These cars were later renamed ‘Talbot Lago’, and Becchia’s engine continued to be used before and after WWII.

Revived in 1946 as the ‘T26 Record’, the model featured hydraulic brakes, a Wilson pre-selector gearbox, and a 4½-liter, twin-cam engine producing 170bhp. The ‘Grand Sport’ variant, with 190bhp, was the base for Rosier’s 1950 Le Mans winner and the Grand Prix car.

However, by the early 1950s, financial difficulties arose due to French government taxation on cars over 3.0 liters, causing sales to drop. Despite a Saoutchik-bodied Record being chosen as the official car of French President Vincent Auriol, the taxation regime severely impacted the French luxury car industry.

Photos by Tim Scott courtesy of RM Sotheby’s