Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Rolling Sculpture: The Most Beautiful Cars Ever: 1938 Talbot-Lago

Almost 70 years after they were created, one of Figoni & Falaschi's voluptuous teardrop coupes will stop any viewer in their tracks. The dramatic teardrop shape is echoed in both the windows and the fenders and is considered Joseph Figoni's masterwork. It is an iconic design of the streamlined movement. Approximately 16 of these beautiful automobiles were ever built.

This vehicle is a 1938 Talbot-Lago 'Special' 150 SS Goutte d'Eau with coachwork by Figoni & Falaschi. The Talbot-Lago's were elegant and sporty. They could be driven to a concours d'elegance, leave with top honors. Competition did not end there for this machines, they had a successful racing career that included a podium finish at the LeMans 24 Hour Race. 

It is believed that only eleven were constructed in this body style, plus five notchback 'Jeancart' Gouttes d'Eau. The word Gouttes d'Eau translates to 'Teardop'. The design was championed by the Paris Coachbuilding Firm, Figoni & Falaschi. The design gave the illusion of motion even at a stand-still. Since these were hand built cars, each vehicle has different and unique characteristics. 

Purchased by Mrs. Robin Byng who saw it on display at the 1938 Paris Salon, her husband was the son of the Earl of Strafford. Together, they enjoyed this car in France prior to World War II. The car was commandeered by the Nazis during the war and its tires were stolen. The interior did not fair so well either, as it was ripped and torn. The Byngs were later able to recover the car once peace time arrived. 

The car was later imported into England where it was given a proper restoration. Upon completion, it was offered for sale at a very expensive price. The price was later lowered slightly, and it was purchased by Rob Walker. Walker, a racing car driver, had been seeking acquisition of the car for a while, before it came into his possession. Upon receiving the car, he fitted it with several modifications such as a Lockheed conversion for the brakes. The Wilson gearbox was switched with a Cotal which required no use of the clutch except for the initial starting off. The 6.00x17 tires were replaced with 5.25x17-inch. 

This car was used at the 1949 LeMans 24-Hour race by Walker as his test car. 


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