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Peter Giddings Racing

1948 Talbot Lago T26C - Chassis number 110007


The heritage of the Talbot Lago dates back to the nineteenth century with the Darracq auto works at Suresnes, France. After Darracq was acquired by Clement-Talbot of England, the cars became known as Talbot-Darracq. With the addition of the Sunbeam Motor Company, the firm became Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq or STD. Darracqs and Talbot-Darracqs were active in racing, both in Europe and even in the Indianapolis 500.

Anthony Lago was born in Venice and educated at the Turin School of Engineeering. He worked in France and England and became associated with the Wilson Campany, developer of the Wilson pre-selector gearbox. About 1932, Lago joined the Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq firm and was assigned to the French factory. Upon the financial collapse of STD in 1935, Tony Lago purchased the French portion of the company from the Rootes brothers who had taken over STD.

Renamed as the Talbot Lago company, the firm concentrated on producing luxury cars and used the pre-selector greaboxes in them. Lago was a keen proponent of racing to promote his upscale cars and in the late 1930s he produced sports cars and a few Grand Prix cars. Although unable to compete with the powerful German cars, the French Talbot Lagos did make a respectable showing.

When Grand Prix racing resumed after World War II in 1946, Talbot revived their pre-war cars and ran with little success. The GP formula was 1.5 liters supercharged and 4.5 liters unblown. Talbot Lago had little choice but to improve their pre-war 4.5 liter overhead valve six cylinder engine. Unable to afford a new overhead cam engine, chief engineer Carlos Marchetti designed a revised engine block with two side camshafts placed high in the block operating the valves via short pushrods. The light alloy cylinder head has hemispherical combustion chambers and two valves per cylinder. The initial design produced about 240 horsepower at 4700 rpm, up from the 165 bhp of the pre-war engines.

The suspension used rigid live axle on semi-elliptic springs in the rear, and wishbones and a transverse leaf spring in front. The chassis was a box-section steel frame. The six cylinder engine was mated to a Wilson pre-selector gearbox with four forward speeds. Both the chassis and the gearbox were the same as used in the pre-war cars as well as the road cars. Large drum brakes were used all around. This was all clothed in a very beautiful, very French, alloy monoposto body.

The driving position is unusual. You sit way down in the cockpit, with legs widely spread around the large pre-selector gearbox. Your feet are higher than your bottom and since you sit somewhat offset the huge rear tires are inches away from your shoulder. Duncan Hamilton used to say that he did not need to bother with the tach since he could look at the rear tires and gauge how much tire spin he was getting by the height of the flames! The "new" Talbot Lago made its debut at the 1948 Grand Prix at Monaco.

Compared to the sleek supercharged Alfa Romeo and Maserati GP cars, the Talbot Lago cars looked obsolete before they even took to the track. However, due to the superior reliability and much better fuel mileage of the Talbot cars, they were able to score a few wins in major Grand Prix races and a large number of wins in lesser races. In 1949, Rosier won the Grand Prix of Belgium . Louis Chiron, in this very car, won the Grand Prix of France at Rheims on July 17, when Bira in the works Maserati had to stop for fuel.

Chassis 110007 was constructed in early 1949 for Paul Vallee's Ecurie France and driven by Louis Chiron. Chiron won the 1949 Grand Prix of France while averaging 99.98 mph for 310 miles non-stop. Chiron was quite successful with the car, finishing well each time he drove. The car was sold and raced in Australia for a number of years. Around 1970, the car returned to England where is was subsequently purchased by Peter Giddings early in 1976. Peter competed with the car at the 1976 Brooklands Reunion. When Peter moved to the United States, he brought the car along and raced with it in the 1976 Historic Watkins Glen Grand Prix. Peter raced the Talbot often in the California vintage races, particularly at Sears Point in 1977 and 1978. A detailed track test by Phil Hill of the car appeared in the November 1979 issue of Road & Track. The car was then sold back to England and eventually was placed in the Grand Prix car collection of Formula One's Bernie Ecclestone.

Note: some of the above information was excerpted from the book: Historic Racing Cars in Australia.



Louis Chiron at the 1948 British Grand Prix. Photo from G C Monkhouse collection.

Peter 1978

Peter warms up the Talbot Lago at Sears Point CSRG races, October 1978. Photo by Mike Sims.

Talbot at speed

Peter and the Talbot Lago at speed, Sears Point CSRG races, October 1978. Photo by Mike Sims.

Chiron Talbot Lago

Peter drives his first Talbot Lago, the ex-French GP winner with Chiron and Australian GP winner with Whitford.

Sears Point

Peter in the Talbot Lago, being interviewed. Sears Point, October 1978.