At the Lime Rock Historic Festival this fall one of the more interesting cars that I saw was a Talbot Lago T26-C Grand Prix race car. This was a durable race car that raced on the Grand Prix circuit after World War II until the early 1950s.
Talbot Lago T26-C Grand Prix Car
The Talbot Lago T26 was originally developed before World War II to race against the mighty Mercedes-Benz and the Auto Union racing cars. The Talbot Lago T26 car was far from capable of beating those cars. This car started out as a two seat sports car, but evolved into a Grand Prix race car. The engine was initially a long stroke single overhead camshaft 4,485 cc straight six-cylinder engine that produced about 245 horsepower. After the war, the engines were modified by changing to two overhead camshafts.
This Talbot Lago T26-C Has Been Beautifully Restored
These engines were very lightly stressed and these cars could sometimes hold off the supercharged 1 1/2 litre Ferraris and Maseratis by running through a Grand Prix race without stopping. The Talbot Lago T26 Grand Prix cars got about 9 miles per gallon compared to the approximately 3 miles per gallon that the 1-1/2 litre supercharged engines got. For example, in 1950 Louis Rosier won the Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort and the Albi Grand Prix. This was the first year of the FIA Grand Prix Drivers Championship and the formula allowed for either a supercharged 1-1/2 litre engine or a normally aspirated 4-1/2 litre engine.
The Talbot Lago T26 Looks Good in French Racing Blue
The Talbot Lago T26 had an independent front suspension and solid axle rear suspension. These were not spectacular racing cars, but they were very reliable.
As was common in race cars of that era, the Talbot Lago had a pre-selector gearbox.
Note the Pre-Selector Type Transmission
The image below was taken from “Racing Cars” by Richard Bensted-Smith. It shows Louis Chiron in a Talbot Lago T26 in the 1948 Grand Prix Race at Silverstone.
Louis Chiron in a Talbot Lago T26 at Silverstone in 1948
The image below came from “Historic Motor Racing” by Anthony Pritchard. It shows the person who I call the original “Dude” – the French driver “Phiphi” Etancelin. I have seen several pictures of him and in each one of those pictures he has his hat on backwards.
Etancelin Driving a Talbot Lago T26
By the way, Grand Prix drivers never got too serious about wearing helmets until Achille Varzi was killed, but that is another story.