Anthony Lago took over the STD (Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq) group in 1935 after the joint venture failed. He had a great fondness for glamorous, well-engineered cars, as well as racing which he believed gave a prestigious image boosting road car sales. So it was no surprise when Lago immediately set to work overhauling the range of road cars and starting the company racing. Being an excellent engineer he developed the existing six-cylinder engine into a high-performance 4-litre unit. This gave the 6-cyl sports cars a great racing history. Despite the relatively poor finances of the works team their cars achieved remarkable GP success, both before and after WWII, limited mostly by the all conquering Mercedes and Auto Unions during the mid’ to late 1930s.

     The 165 bhp, 4.5 litre, 6cyl’ engine was no match for the 300+ bhp supercharged engines of the single seater competition, so Carlo Marchetti assisted Lago in developing a new head for 4.5 litre version during the war. Perhaps foreseeing the post war racing regulations would be similar to those pre-war. The new 93x110 mm 6-cyl engine had two lateral camshafts, halfway up the block, operating the 12 valves via short pushrods. Reported to give 240 bhp originally, the twin-plug version introduced in 1950 was rated at 260 bhp, and rose further to 280 bhp at 5000rpm by 1951. This new engine appeared first in the T26 road car range of 1947 but the competition version followed soon after.

     Both the box section chassis and the gearbox (a 4spd Wilson pre-selector ‘box) of the T26 were directly derived from the 1930s Talbot Lago racers. Suspension was similar to the company's road cars being by wishbones and a transverse leaf spring at the front and a solid axle, semi-elliptical springs, at the rear. Huge finned drums provided the braking power.

The 1949 Belgian GP

     Making it's competition debut at the 1948 Monaco Grand Prix the T26C retired after 16 laps with engine trouble. In it's next race, the Coupe du Salon at Montlhery, Talbot scored a 1-2-3 with Rosier, Levegh and Cabantous all driving the new T26c. The 1949 Belgian GP provided Talbot-Lago with it's first major victory, Rosier, again, wining after going non-stop for three and a half hours. Reliability and superior fuel consumption being the ace up his sleeve.

    Rosier's ability driving the Talbot-Lago won him the French Championship in 1949, a season which also had an important win for Louis Chiron at the French GP held in Reims.          

The 1950 Monaco GP

     The 1950 Monaco GP, contested over 100 laps, was won by Fangio driving an Alfa Romeo. He was dominant from pole to flag scoring his first World Championship victory. The starting grid of 19 cars followed common practice of the day having three cars on the front row (Fangio then Farina, both for AlfaRomeo and Gonzales in a Maserati), then two cars Etancelin for Talbot-Lago and Fagioli in the 3rd works Alfa') then three and so on.......

     Despite so many cars in close quarters the start was uneventful, but, as the cars came round to Tabac corner, towards the end of the first lap, a huge wave came through the harbour and flooded the track. Result, a huge pile up! Farina spun and hit the wall while Fangio slithered gracefully through the storm. Behind them was chaos as cars tried to take avoiding action or stop. Eight more cars were eliminated on the spot and Gonzales crashed his damaged car on the next lap. Although no one was hurt in the initial pile up Gonzales' crash resulted in a fire from which he suffered burns.

     Tabac remained slippery and car after car slithered out of the race at this corner, sometimes doing their level best to involve another innocent party in the crashfest! As the race went on Luigi Villoresi brought his Ferrari to fame, storming from the back of the field after being delayed by the pile up. His efforts went unrewarded though as he did not finish. All the carnage of the race let Johnny Claes, who qualified 19th, bring his small Belgian teams Talbot-Lago, #6, to the finish in 7th place.

     Also of note is that this was the first time a rear-engined car started an F1 world championship race. Harry Schell, driving a Cooper T12 with a JAP V twin engine, qualified 20th but was wiped out in the opening lap melee.

Louis Rosier in 1950

     The 1950 Belgian GP was quite memorable for Talbot-Lago. while the Alfas raced off on their own as usual, Sommer in a privately entered T26 battled with two Ferraris. Due to the Alfa’s repeated stops for fuel, Sommer found himself being race leader until his engine blew up. Ascari’s Ferrari then took the lead but he had to stop for fuel letting the Alfas ahead again, Fangio leading Farina and Fagioli. In the closing laps Farina suffered transmission trouble and dropped to fourth behind the Talbot-Lago #14 of Rosier.

     Rosier also won the 1950 24hrs du Mans for Talbot-Lago in the T26GS (grand Sport 2 seater) and the non-championship Dutch GP in the T26c-DA in both 1950 and 1951.

                                                            No.24 1/24th scale kit.

                                                                      Built by Rod.

                                                            No.14 1/24th scale kit.

                                                            No. 6  1/24th scale kit.

                                                                      Built by Ian.

      Rod built his Merit model (car no.24) in the late 1950s making it one of the oldest models in the museum collection. Built using tube glue and brush painted with Humbrol enamel paints, despite the limited detail of the kit by today's standard Rod has shown keen attention to detail with his painting.

      Ian built his two Talbots at around the same at the turn of the century. the Merit kit (car no.14) is built straight from the box but using modern aftermarket products. The wheels and tyres came from South Eastern Finecast, Bare Metal Foil was used and the air intake tube and oil tank cooling fins. Halfords acrylic car spray paints provive the finish colour. the seat has been covered with thin blue leatherette cloth.

     Car no.6 is from the Heller kit, heavily super-detailed, using all the new techniques and aftermarket parts that exploded onto the model car scene in 1997. Halfords car paints, bare metal foil and photo-etched sets were all fairly “modern” back then. They were certainly a revelation compared to the dark days of using card, rolled paper tube and house hold wires for our converting and detailing.

     The major work of this project was in the wheels which you can read about in our articles on re-spoking wire wheels. With that job done and rest of the kit being generally very nicely detailed for a kit of it’s age other areas had to be detailed accordingly. The processes involved are explained in our articles on detailing model cars and in the article on detailing the T26c build itself.