Bonjour 2017, and I can’t wait for it to get rolling. Kick off is with the Dakar Rally, followed by exciting changes to both the World Rally Championship and Formula 1.
My first ramble of 2017, features a car that many consider the most beautiful of all time, the 1937 Talbot Lago 150 C-SS.
During the full swing of the Art Deco movement, French automobiles lavished the world with a rolling sculptural feel. Crafted by Coachbuilders, these works of art captured hearts of the time and still do to this day.
Giuseppe Figoni of Coachbuilders Figoni et Falaschi, designed the Talbot Lago 150 C -SS with a salute to nature, the body shape resembles the form of a teardrop. The illustration above is an example from the New York series, built on arguably Anthony Lago’s finest chassis. Based upon the successful 1937 French Grand Prix car, it featured a 2.65-metre wheelbase, independent front suspension with transverse leaf spring, a live rear axle on leafs in the rear and four-wheel drum brakes. Powering this masterpiece, was a race breed high compression 3996cc inline-six with hemispherical combustion chambers, overhead valves and triple carburettors, producing 140bhp@4000rpm it proved to be a strong performer as a stock car finished 3rd overall at Le Mans in 1938.
A testament to the car’s pedigree is the fact that 14 of the original 16 cars built remain today. Each car was hand built making no two identical. The car illustrated is from the Mullins Museum collection, chassis number 90106 and features a sunroof, foldout windscreen and competition style headers among other unique details.
When World War 2 struck Europe, many of the cars found refuge in the United States, thanks to Hollywood glitterati. Other famous owners include Maharani Stella de Kapurthala, who enjoyed changing her car’s colour to match her outfits.
My favourite owner’s tale is that of Freddie McEvoy. Born on the 12th February 1904 in Melbourne, Australia to New Zealand-born Violet and native Aloysius McEvoy, who moved to Britain early in his childhood. ‘Suicide’ Freddie was a swashbuckling legend in aristocratic British sporting circles. A ladies man, he married several wealthy heiresses, was a champion Bobsleigher carrying the flag for Britain at the 1936 Winter Olympics in Germany and a close friend with actor Erol Flynn.
Freddie worked for Anthony Lago at some point and with earnings from a previous marriage had purchased a T150 C -SS. While having drinks one day with Barbara Hutton, heiress to the Woolworths fortune, he made her a bet that he could drive from Paris to Nice in under 10 hours. No mean feat as proclaimed by the $10,000 put on the table. McEvoy was no slouch behind the wheel and had experience in motorsport having finished sixth driving a Maserati in the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup.
Freddie left Paris in his 1937 Talbot Lago T150 C SS and arrived in Nice 9 hours and 45 minutes later to collect his winnings from Barbara herself.
This story conjures up fantastic images of Freddie carving his way through the beautiful French countryside in his Teardrop. For me, it brings back fond memories of driving from Nice to Grenoble in 2015 on a family expedition.
The 1937 Talbot Lago is not a car that you can just go out and buy with chassis number 90112 selling for €3.136.000 ($4,475,072 USD) at the RM Auctions Concorso Villa d’Este 2011. For me personally, the Talbot-Lago embodies what an automobile stands for; Freedom. The freedom to go wherever you want, when you want.
2016 was a year full of stories touting the self-driving car. 2017 shows no sign of the age of autonomy letting up. It saddens me to think that future generations may not be able to enjoy the freedom, that driving an automobile has stood for for so long, to not get lost and discover what lies on the open road and the sear pleasure of the wind in ones hair. In 2017 make sure you get out there and enjoy the freedom of the motor vehicle while you still can. Show the powers that be that the car enthusiast isn’t dead yet, and pass your love affair onto the younger generation.