No.8: The T150C Teardrop Talbot (1937)
There are many cars that are are claimed to be the most beautiful in the world. If the 'Teardrop Talbot' isn't judged to be the best, it is certainly among the most gorgeous automobile creations ever produced. The most expensive car in the world when it was first launched, it remains amongst the most expensive to buy now; if anyone is prepared to sell one.
Not to be mistaken for the British Talbot , the company that created it was first of all begun in 1896 by a Frenchman named Alexandre Darracq who built cars both for racing and, as he put it, 'for pleasure'. In 1912 he sold his very profitable business and the new owners renamed it 10 years later as Automobiles Talbot. Why is anyone's guess.
This caused some concerns when their cars were sold in Britain; they were badged as Talbot-Darracq or Darracq -Talbot to get round this.
By 1932 The Great Depression had destroyed many car manufacturers, and Automobiles Talbot were not immune from this. A businessman called Antonio Lago was brought in to, hopefully, save the company; it was still taken over by the receivers but in 1936 Lago bought it back from them. He was a brilliant and prolific engineer who went on to create a large number of successful models.
Amongst them was the T150C SS. This was a four litre, six cylinder 140 brake horse power supercar which, back in 1937, was capable of 109 mph and could accelerate from a standing start to 60 mph in 13 seconds. It was meant to be driven on both the road and the race track.
There were two types of racing car owners. There were those who were interested only in being first past the post. There were others, however, who were happier displaying their cars in a concours d'elegance after the race was over. And what a display this car made. With hardly a single straight line on the bodywork, it looks as though it was speeding when it was stood still. The futuristic shape was a result of a collaboration between Lago and French coachbuilders Figoni et Falaschi, and between them they raised car design to an art form.
It wasn't just a beautiful car either. It had an ultralightweight body; there was independent front suspension and roadholding was superb. Although never intended to be an out and out racing car one of them still finished third at Le Mans in 1938.
It is likely that the Second World War, and the austerity that followed it, put paid to Automobiles Talbot, as it did to so many other luxury car manufacturers. By 1951 the money had run out again; a debt moratorium was agreed but this destroyed the company's credit rating and did it's reputation great harm. Lago managed to keep the business going until 1958 when he gave up the unequal struggle and the business was taken over by Simca.
Remaining 'Teardrops' are still amongst the most beautiful cars in the world, and sell for ever increasing huge sums whenever they are offered for sale.