The Talbot Lago 150C SS undoubtedly embodies the essence of a supercar with its stunning styling, impressive performance, and limited production run. It is now considered a prime example of Art Deco automotive design.
We recommend looking at the car's images before delving further into this text. Art Deco design is characterized by sleek, streamlined shapes emphasising modern technology. It emerged as a luxurious design philosophy in response to the austerity measures imposed after WWI. The T-150C SS, crafted by Parisian coachbuilders Figoni & Falasci, embodies these principles. They believed the teardrop shape to be the most aerodynamically perfect, which is clearly evident in the car's design. The press quickly dubbed this vehicle 'Goutte d’Eau' or water drop in French. With virtually no straight lines and tasteful use of chrome, this car is a true masterpiece.
Talbot was a car manufacturer that built cars in both England and France. Italian-British businessman Antonio Lago bought the company's French branch in the 1930s, during a period when Talbot struggled after the Great Depression. Antonio Lago, with extensive experience in engineering, primarily aeronautical, aimed to transform Talbot-Lago into a successful racing brand.
As a result, Talbot Lago T-150C SS cars were more than just visually appealing. They claimed victory in the 1937 French Grand Prix and secured third place in the 1938 24 Hours of Le Mans. Talbot-Lagos were favoured by racing drivers due to their unique Wilkinson pre-selector 4-speed gearboxes. These gearboxes enabled drivers to choose a gear before approaching a corner and then press and release the clutch to engage it. While this may not seem impressive today, it was considerably faster than double-clutching in other race cars of the time with unsynchronized gearboxes.
The speed of these Art Deco marvels was not limited to race tracks either. The aerodynamic body and capable 4.0-litre straight six hemi engine, producing 140 hp, made it a great grand-tourer. One of the ‘Goutte d’Eaus’ was famously driven by Freddy McEvoy from Paris to Nice in less than 9 hours 45 minutes. That is more than 900 kilometers, including twisty Alpine roads, as highways did not exist back then. The race started as a bet of driving the distance in less than 10 hours for 10,000 dollars (roughly 170,000 dollars in 2017). Not only did McEvoy win the money, but he also made Talbot Lago synonymous with speed and reliability.
The same car that raced against the clock from Paris to Nice received the Best of the Best award at the Peninsula Classics concourse in 2016. This recognition is quite significant, as the jury included experts such as car collector and celebrity Jay Leno, Gordon Murray from McLaren, Jaguar designer Ian Callum, and fashion mogul Ralph Lauren. They all concurred that it might even be the most beautiful car ever built.
Only 14 of T-150C SSs were produced, each of which had been built to meet the customer's needs. For instance, the car sold to Princess Sita Devi of Kapurthala featured covered front fenders. She was also known for repainting the car to match her outfits. Another Talbot Lago customer, Duke Philippe de Massa, ordered his with extra headlights, cooling vents and a quickly accessible fuel filler cap to suit his racing needs.
There are not many T-150C SS’s around, and they rarely come up for sale. The last time one of these coupes have changed owners was in 2011; it sold for 3,136,000 euros in an RM Sotheby’s auction. Just a year before that, a similar T-150C Lago Special, a long-wheelbase version of the coupe, has been sold for 4,620,000 dollars.
Unsurprisingly, with a car this rare, the chances of seeing one in the flesh are quite slim. Luckily, at least two of them are available to the public in museums. Mullin automotive museum in Oxnard, South California, hosts the car that was raced from Paris to Nice, while another ‘Goutte d’Eau’ can be seen in Louwman Museum in The Hague in Holland.
1937 Talbot-Lago T150-C-SS Teardrop Coupe