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Peter Giddings Racing

at the Geelong Speed Trials 1990

(Article from the official program for the Geelong Speed Trials, 11th November 1990)

Chassis number: 110054, Engine number: 45154

Born in Eastbourne, England, but now living in California, Peter became interested in sports and competition cars in the late 50's. He has been a Talbot Lago disciple since teenage years when he helped maintain a four litre single cam Talbot. These French pre-war cars, which occasionally Peter was privileged to drive, were the beginnings of a life long love affair.

This is Peter's fourth visit to the Geelong Speed Trials. His first was in 1986, when he came as a visitor. In 1988 he returned and competed in an ex-Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo "Monza", and last year in a magnificent 250F GP Maserati. He has one of the most impressive private collections of sports and historic competition cars in the world. The Talbot Lago he is competing in at the 1990 Trials, is a sister car to the one owned by local motor racing identity, Tom Hawkes, in the 1950's. It's participation at this years event, will no doubt arouse nostalgic interest amongst some of our older enthusiasts.

Peter Giddings is an acknowledged expert on Talbot Lagos and is currently assisting Pierre Abeillon of France with his book on the marque.

The history of Peter's Talbot Lago is extremely interesting. Of the four T26C second generation cars built in 1950 and equipped with the DA engine, 110054 is, along with 110051, the only ones that were built entirely new.

It was used exclusively by the factory during 1950, until it's bankruptcy following the 500 Miles Race of Raphaela (Fangio 1st place) where it was driven by Froilan Gonzales. It was then put up for sale along with all of the other cars at the factory.

At the age of 52 and undecided on the future of his career, Phillippe Etancelin had sold his T26C SA (110008) at the end of the 1950 season, with the idea of retiring. However the sale of the Talbots with the DA engine changed his mind. He subsequently acquired 110054 and continued to race. He competed regularly during the 1951 season and less often in 1952. However the writing was on the wall for large engined GP racers. At the end of 1952, Etancelin planned to retire again, however, in 1953 he made an exception to his decision and reappeared in the GP of Rouens at the wheel of another factory car with a later specification (110002).

In 1954 he appeared yet again at the wheel of 110054 during two races in England for the benefit of the amateur British. At the end of 1954 Etancelin did retire and sold 110054. It was then acquired by the American Terry Hall who bought it through James Page of Buffalo. The Zenith carburettors which were on 110054 when it arrived were not useable because they had been completely eaten by alcohol, that had not been drained properly a year or so beforehand. Bob Wood who was responsible for maintaining 110054 first mounted Solex carburettors before finally changing it to SU carburettors.

When competing in the car, Terry Hall had problems with his ankles and knees caused most likely by his career as an ice skater with the Ice Follies. He had to give up racing and due to cash problems he could not pay the invoices from Bob Wood on 110054, who finally took the Lago in compensation. Wood then sold it to Jack Eubank and Phil Carter in an effort to get part of his money back.

Frequent mechanical problems made these two contemplate replacing the engine with an American stock unit (i.e. a Corvette) when it eventually suffered a spun bearing in the Talbot engine. Fred Orgeron then acquired the car. He rapidly realized that the car was extremely tired and out of date as far as competition was concerned, even though the quality of its fabrication was solid and clean. He felt that the best form of competition, after a degree of transformation, was to run in races reserved for sports cars. He commissioned Conrad Scott and Jack Sutton to make a new body. A new cockpit was made in aluminium that attached to the original firewall. The cockpit had additional seats on either side of the driver's original seat.

Roger Bloxham, then of Long Beach, was then made responsible for revising the engine and further modification of the body. The car took to the race tracks under the name of "The Orgeron Special". An article appeared at that time in the magazine "Sports Car Specials".

Some time later the car was retired into the collection of Californian based Lindley Locke who already had other interesting Talbots. It was here that Peter Giddings first encountered the car, who at that time owned another example, s/n 110007. Peter said: "After a long negotiation (which included the ex Anthony Bamford Dubos two seater as pictured in the Alan Spitz book), I could finally in 1978 become the owner of 110054. Of course, two T26C's in my collection was too many. I decided shortly after to sell one. Even although 110007 was the more historic, it was 110054 with its more developed engine that I finally decided to keep. I must say that I had been highly motivated at the beginning. In fact, to acquire it I had to purchase a Talbot Grand Sport No. 110117 with its spare engine which was part of the purchase price. At the time I admit that 1 wasn't really aware of the amount of work that was required. Lindley Locke moved often during the period that he owned 110054 and on each of those occasions he had lost or misplaced a few parts. On top of that when I detached the sports body that was on the car, the chassis appeared very dirty and tired. The rear structure which normally supports the gas tank and the shocks was missing. The costs of restoring 110054, with the amount of money it took to purchase the car, finally reached the level of a king's ransom".

"To rebuild the car in single seater form we had to build a new body. I knew that the scuttle on some of the later T26Cs was lower but I did not know whether this was the case for my 110054. On the other hand, I had seen in "Le Sang Blue" that some DA's had a classic body at that point. Since I liked it that way, that was how it was rebuilt. To gather accurate details, I went to England in order to seek assistance from Paul Grist (who had 82930, 90203, 110004 and 110008).

Finally, after years of effort, patience and expense, 110054 was ready and could reappear in vintage car races.