1938-TAlbot

 

Lot 34. Formerly owned by Grant Barney Schley III, 1938 TALBOT T23 4.0-LITER CABRIOLET. Coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi, Body No. 692. Chassis no. 93123. Engine no. 23356. Estimate US$ 500,000 - 600,000 (€450,000 - 540,000). Photo: Bonhams.

3,996cc OHV Inline Six-Cylinder Engine - Twin Zenith-Stromberg Carburetors, 115bhp at 4,200rpm - 4-Speed Wilson Pre-Select Transmission - Front, Independent by Transverse Leaf Spring, Rear, Live Axle by Leaf Spring - 4-Wheel Drum Brakes

*1938 London Motor Show Car
*Prominent original ownership
*Desirable French Coachwork combination
*Potential candidate for Concours restoration

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Lot 34. Formerly owned by Grant Barney Schley III, 1938 TALBOT T23 4.0-LITER CABRIOLET. Coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi, Body No. 692. Chassis no. 93123. Engine no. 23356. Estimate US$ 500,000 - 600,000 (€450,000 - 540,000). Photo: Bonhams.

TALBOT

On the dissolution of the Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq combine in 1935, automobile engineer Major A F 'Tony' Lago bought the Darracq factory at Suresnes and continued production, selling his cars as Darracqs in the UK and Talbots in France. The revitalised marque embraced both sports car and Grand Prix racing, and in 1937 achieved victories in the French Grand Prix and the Tourist Trophy; from then onwards it was an uphill struggle against the state-subsidised might of the German and Italian opposition. There were, however, many notable successes in the immediate post-war years, including three Grand Prix wins for French Champion Louis Rosier. 

The first Lago-built cars retained the existing X-braced, independently front suspended chassis, but were powered by new six-cylinder engines of 3.0 and 4.0 litres designed by engineer Walter Becchia. Baby, Minor, Major and Master models, of varying wheelbase lengths up to 3,450mm were produced, while a 2.4-litre four-cylinder model was offered on the French market only. Lago had assisted in the development of the Wilson pre-selector gearbox in England, and this form of transmission was retained on the larger models.

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Lot 34. Formerly owned by Grant Barney Schley III, 1938 TALBOT T23 4.0-LITER CABRIOLET. Coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi, Body No. 692. Chassis no. 93123. Engine no. 23356. Estimate US$ 500,000 - 600,000 (€450,000 - 540,000). Photo: Bonhams.

FIGONI ET FALASCHI

In the hierarchy of automobile coachbuilders, Figoni et Falaschi earned their place in the highest tiers, if not at the top. From the late 1920s right through to the late 1940s, the exquisite lines that they penned transformed the way automobiles were designed. This was never more apparent than with their series of'Goutte d'Eau' or 'Teardrop' coupes on the Talbot T150CSS chassis. The automobile had moved from man sitting atop the machine, to man being at one with the machine, then beyond this they shaped coachwork aerodynamically, cheating the wind, and in doing so increased potential outright speed and efficiency. 

It was not just the curvaceous main sections of bodywork to which attention was focused, but also in the intricate detail accessories from end to end of the body, accented by chrome trim pieces. Epitomizing Figoni's design philosophy were their elegant blade bumpers, which turned an increasingly necessary safety precaution into a beautiful, delicate feature of an automobile. 

As ever in business, the partnership was a marriage of artistic genius and commercial wisdom; Joseph (Giuseppe by birth) Figoni, was the craftsman, while Ovidio Falaschi was the well-connected businessman. The latter summed up the role of the custom coachbuilder to perfection when he recalled: 

"We really were true couturiers of automotive coachwork, dressing and undressing a chassis one, two, three times and even more before arriving at the definitive line that we wanted to give to a specific chassis-coachwork ensemble."

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Lot 34. Formerly owned by Grant Barney Schley III, 1938 TALBOT T23 4.0-LITER CABRIOLET. Coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi, Body No. 692. Chassis no. 93123. Engine no. 23356. Estimate US$ 500,000 - 600,000 (€450,000 - 540,000). Photo: Bonhams.

THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

This remarkable Figoni bodied Talbot has recently emerged from long term hibernation in San Antonio and has not been seen publicly for decades. As far as its owner and Bonhams have been able to ascertain it is one of only two built in its guise (the other being chassis 93122) as it features a number of individual styling characteristics, including the sporting enclosed radiator and louvred hood as well as a plethora of the touches that the coachbuilder were most known for such as the pontoon front fenders, stepped chrome waist molding and finned tail panel. Adding to its great looks is the fact that its windshield is designed to fold flat also. All told, it is a seriously striking and handsome automobile. 

Both Talbot and Figoni were extremely popular with American clients and so it is not surprising to know that this car's original owner is understood to have been Grant Barney Schley III, of the wealthy banking dynasty. Schley's father was instrumental in the building of the Chase National Bank with John G. Moore and died while in the French Riviera in 1936. It is understood that Schley III traveled to the London Motor Show at Earl's Court in October 1938, where he was captivated by this car on the Talbot stand, resplendent in its original black livery and immediately acquired it. 

In 1949, the Talbot passed from Schley to a Mademoiselle Le Gris, who we understand spent her time between Paris and Texas, attesting to this is the fact that it retains license plated for the Parisien '75' jurisdiction. Two decades later, presumably after a period in the States, the car would pass to Arthur Flores of Austin, Texas. It resided with Mr. Flores for some 40 years or more before it was acquired by the present owner from his estate. 

In the current ownership the Talbot has been properly researched and assessed technically. Under close inspection, beneath a later repaint in French Blue, the original paint color of black was found and so the car was stripped back and has been refinished in this original scheme. Its front seats have been refurbished, but the rear seats remain original to the car and while not fitted, the top is present and items such as 'pram-irons' that would support the top have been re-chromed. In the last few months the car was checked over mechanically and has been made to run. Its gearbox was found to function properly, but in essence under the skin the car remains original and not restored, so may require proper refurbishment of the technical aspect. 

As can be seen today, in this original livery, the extensive chrome trim accents the body details particularly well, and gives a true sense of the potential that the car might have at concours level if it were fully restored. Alternatively, it could be further sympathetically refurbished and enjoyed. 

On consideration, its current owner has generously elected to sell the car and for its sales proceeds to be donated to the Simeone Foundation Museum. 

With so many of the Figoni et Falaschi Talbots now firmly stationed in long term or institutional collections, chances to acquire an example of this famed marriage are few and far between today. This car offers its next owner one exceptional opportunity and in doing so to support the country's greatest collections of Sports Racing cars.

Bonham's. QUAIL LODGE AUCTION, 11:00 PDT - CARMEL, QUAIL LODGE & GOLF CLUB