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1939 Talbot-Lago T-23 Major Cabriolet by Carrosserie Talbot

Elegant and Rare 4.0 Liter Major Talbot Cabriolet Featuring Factory Coachwork. Impeccably Restored by Swiss Marque Experts.

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Price $395,000
VIN 93615
Exterior Color Black
Interior Color Red Leather
Mileage 93836 Kms (TMU)
Engine 4.0 Litre Inline 6-Cylinder no. 23440
Transmission 4-Speed Preselector
Status Hidden
Stock FJ2111


1939 Talbot-Lago T23 Major 4.0 Liter Cabriolet
Coachwork by Carrosserie Talbot
s/n 93615, Engine no. 23440
Black with Red Leather

Talbot-Lago sits prominently among the greatest of all European prewar automotive marques. Their brilliance of design, engineering, and elegance converges on a history of challenge and determination, all of which is embodied in the sculptured legacy of their grand designs. Yet troubled as Talbot-Lago was throughout their storied past, nothing kept them from perfecting and achieving astonishing automobiles of the finest order. It is this fortitude and demand for perfection that brought the open coachwork 4 liter T23 to fruition.

By 1933, Talbot had achieved racing success at Le Mans, Indianapolis, and the French Grand Prix. These successes however were having little impact on sales, and, had it not been for the timely arrival of the vibrant Italio-British engineer Anthony Lago in 1934, surely it would have been the last of Talbot. But fate had sent Lago to the rescue, and with him came engineer Walter Brecchia. The first of their projects was a Brecchia designed 3 Liter effort that was suitable but underpowered and, lacking proper platforms for coachwork, struggled to find success. Quickly they set about modifying the engine to a more robust 4 liters, resulting in a smooth 115bhp in line six-cylinder engine with hemispherical combustion chambers, twin solex carburetors, and a Wilson four speed pre-selector transmission. All of this coupled with independent front suspension, semi-elliptical leaf spring rear suspension, live rear axle, and four wheel drum brakes, resulted in a surprisingly brilliant automobile. Properly set up, the engine was capable of achieving 140bhp, showing itself as a promising offering for race use, then proving so in the 1936 French Grand Prix, finishing in the top ten. The following year, against Bugattis and other leaders, Talbot Lagos returned with 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th places in the same race. Established by now as a force on the track, Talbot-Lago finally became recognized and greatly appreciated as a maker of fine road cars. Today this legacy continues in the form of beautifully restored cars embodying the spirit and grace of these great classic European coachbuilt cars.

This example is one of the most desirable T23 series Cabriolets offered with the 4.0 Liter engine. The Talbot Club reports that fewer than a dozen examples of this series remain in existence. Referred to as the “Major” model, this long chassis design is clothed in stunning Talbot constructed coachwork over chassis number 93615, and retains the original 4 liter engine, number 23440. The car was purchased in 1971 from a prominent architect in Switzerland who had owned the car for some years. It remained in the family of the new owners for over 40 years, when a few years ago, Swiss marque experts performed a comprehensive restoration. The restoration was done to a very high standard using the finest materials, historic references, and accurate finishes to properly honor the legacy of these fine cars. Among some of the work performed, all wood in the body framework was inspected and replaced or repaired as needed using correct kiln-dried ash. All mechanical systems were restored as needed including a newly rebuilt transmission. A new top, headliner, leather interior, and carpeting were installed in both the interior and luggage areas. On the exterior, all trim (formed in chrome plated brass) was refinished to show level condition, accenting the gloss black coachwork.

The current owner purchased the car from the family that commissioned the restoration. For the past two years, he has used the car minimally, choosing to preserve the restoration and enjoy the visual qualities of this fine car. Condition throughout is beautiful, featuring stunning paint with high gloss, showing excellent panel fit accented by delicate chrome trim. The exterior of the car is both elegant and sporty with dark red wire wheels and grille bars hinting at the Talbot-Lago racing lineage. The beautifully sculpted fenders and running board drape the low cowl and hood lines, detailed with a full length body line dipping down at the rear fender, enhanced by polished rear fender stone guards. The sporty nature of the car however, is transformed into an elegant coach once the top is in place. The polished landau bars and formality of the closed car, create wonderful touches against the raked grille, wire wheels and forward swept cowl line. Truly this car serves both purposes – sport and elegance.

The interior continues these themes with handsomely trimmed leather seats and door panels contrasted with a stunning wood dash displaying a full array of restored instruments, chrome plated switches, and a glistening black and chrome steering wheel. The level of detail and execution in the interior is spectacular. Everywhere you look there is a reminder of the attention to detail in both the original construction and the excellence in restoration. Front seats are roomy but comfortable and certainly suitable for long distance driving. Rear seats are large and open, offering a fold-down center armrest, while elegant grab bars accent the inner door panels.

Under the long and beautifully louvered hood lies the amazing and original 4.0 liter engine. Here, the restoration once again distinguishes itself as a symphony of mechanical detail properly executed and accurately finished. So many cars of this period are often over-restored with more bright work or highly polished finishes than when originally constructed. This Talbot-Lago engine and components have been properly treated to show correct period finishes without compromise. Further review of the undercarriage confirms as well the restoration effort throughout has been to a very high standard.

The car starts easily and idles smoothly without hesitation. Gear selection for the 4 speed is easily handled via pre-select. Once underway the car is delightfully easy to drive with excellent visibility and smooth ride. While certainly not a sports car by modern standards, the power is quite good for a large four-passenger vehicle, showing excellent road manners and braking even under higher speeds. Best of all, this elegant touring Cabriolet offers smooth driving with a touch of sports racing history. The car is accompanied by documentation including ownership papers, numerous letters referencing the car (including a certified letter from the Talbot Registry), a photo album with several images showing the detailed restoration, and receipts for services and restoration performed on the car.

This elegant and stunning long wheelbase T23 Cabriolet represents one of the finest Talbot-Lago factory coachbuilt designs of the prewar era. Among the most desirable French sporting automobiles ever built, the 4.0 Liter Major stands as a great opportunity for a collector to drive, show or simply admire for the cherished object of artistry it represents from a long forgotten era of classic automobile design.


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Fantasy Junction +1 510 653 7555 Emeryville, California 94608 USA

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