Talbot Lago T15 Baby Cabriolet

Car producer : 

Talbot Lago


T15 Baby Cabriolet





As part of the backwash from the bankruptcy and break-up of the Anglo-French Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq combine in 1935, the French part of the business was purchased by Tony Lago, an auto-industry entrepreneur born in Venice, but who had built much of his auto-industry career during the 1920s in England. The registered name of the company Lago now owned was "Automobiles Talbot-Darracq S.A.", but in the English speaking world it is generally known as "Talbot-Lago". The cars themselves were badged in their home market simply as Talbots, which had been the badge worn by products of the predecessor company since 1922 when the "-Darracq" suffix had been dropped from the names used for the cars in France.

Although in 1935 Lago's company continued building Talbot models from the pre-bankruptcy period, he rapidly replaced them with a range of light weight sporting six cylinder engined cars, centred round the "Talbot Baby" and the slightly less sporting "voitures de tourisme" centred round the "Talbot Major" and the smaller "Talbot Cadette". The passenger car range was complemented by racing cars and a high profile motor racing programme. The passenger cars and racing cars were designed by a fellow Italian expatriate called Walter Becchia who during 1939 would transfer to Citroën and play a key role in the development of the Citroën 2CV.

For 1935, the existing range continued in production but from 1936 these were steadily replaced with cars designed by Walter Becchia, featuring transverse leaf sprung independent suspension. These included the 4-cylinder 2323 cc (13CV) Talbot Type T4 "Minor", a surprise introduction at the 1937 Paris Motor Show, and the 6-cylinder 2,696 cc (15CV) Talbot "Cadette-15", along with and the 6-cylinder 2,996 cc or 3,996 cc (17 or 23CV) Talbot "Major" and its long-wheelbase version, the Talbot "Master": these were classified as Touring cars (voitures de tourisme).

There was also in the second half of the 1930s a range of Sporting cars (voitures de sport) which started with the Talbot "Baby-15", mechanically the same as the "Cadette-15" but using a shorter slightly lighter chassis. The Sporting Cars range centred on the 6-cylinder 2,996 cc or 3,996 cc (17 or 23CV) Talbot "Baby" and also included the 3,996 cc (23CV) 23 and sporting Lago-Spéciale and Lago-SS models, respectively with two and three carburettors, and corresponding increases in power and performance. The most frequently specified body for the Lago-SS was built by Figoni et Falaschi and featured a particularly eye-catching aerodynamic form.

Lago was an excellent engineer who developed the existing six-cylinder engine into a high-performance 4-litre one. The sporting six-cylinder models had a great racing history. The bodies—such as of T150 coupé—were made by excellent coachbuilders such as Figoni et Falaschi or Saoutchik.

The Talbot Baby was a six-cylinder executive sporting car launched by the French Talbot company in 1936. Three standard body types offered were a "coach" (two-door four-seater sedan/saloon), a two-door four-seater "cabriolet" and a two-door two-seater "cabriolet". The Baby was one of the first new models to appear after the French part of the Anglo-French Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq combine was purchased, in 1935, by auto-entrepreneur Tony Lago. Production slowed with the onset of war and had ended completely by mid-1942 when the manufacturer's Suresnes plant was converted for war production.

The "Talbot Baby" name was revived in June 1951 for a four-cylinder version of the company's newly rebodied T26 model, but in the context of the company's protracted financial collapse very few of the post-war Baby models were produced, with just four manufactured during 1953, which was the model's final year in production.

The chassis, with its 2,950 mm (116.1 in) wheelbase, was effectively a shortened version of the 3,200 mm (126.0 in) chassis provided for the manufacturer's fill-size "Cadette" and "Major" sedans/saloons. The name "Baby" does not alter the fact that even these shortened chassis Talbots were substantial automobiles by the standards of the time and place.

The steering wheel and driving seat were on the right-hand side of the car, following a convention that had been almost universal among European auto-makers twenty years earlier, but which was now seen as rather old fashioned in countries where traffic drove on the right. The wheels at the front were independently suspended subject to a transverse leaf spring, while the back wheels were attached using a rigid axle suspended from longitudinally mounted leaf springs. Power was delivered to the rear wheels via a four-speed mechanical gear-box with the option at extra cost (of 4,200 Francs in 1937) of a Wilson pre-selector gear box.

The Talbot Baby of the 1930s was powered by a six-cylinder engine. There was a choice between a 2,996 cm3 and a 3,996 cm3 unit, both sharing the same 104.5 mm cylinder stroke, but differentiated by a cylinder bore (diameter) of 78 or 90 mm. The two engine sizes corresponded with the 17CV and 23CV car tax bands, and the cars are therefore sometimes simply known, using the convention common at the time, as the Talbot Baby 17CV and the Talbot Baby 23CV. A year later, at the 1937 Paris Motor Show, the range of available engines was extended with the introduction of the Talbot Baby 15CV (Talbot Baby-Quince), sharing its wheelbase and body configurations with the other cars in the range, but the cylinder bore was further reduced and this version of the car was powered by a six-cylinder engine of 2,696 cm3, placing it in the 15CV car tax band. Maximum power outputs for the 15CV, 17CV and 23CV engines were quoted respectively at 75HP (56 kW), 90HP (67 kW) and 105HP (78 kW). Talbot made a point of measuring maximum usable power not at maximum engine speed but at approximately 90% of it, so that an engine spinning at maximum rpm would presumably have produced a little more power than the maxima quoted by the company.

In the standard "coach" steel-bodied two-door sedan/saloon the top speeds for the 15CV, 17CV and 23CV powered versions of the Baby were respectively 130 km/h (81 mph), 135 km/h (84 mph) and 145 km/h (90 mph), with higher maxima quoted in respect of cars with light-weight coach-built bodies.

The standard body for the Baby was a two-door four-seater steel-bodied sports saloon. A car thus equipped was priced in 1937 at between 56,940 and 72,800 francs according to the specified engine. The reduction in wheelbase when compared with the Talbot Cadette came at the expense of the passenger cabin, leaving the overall silhouette looking elegantly long in the nose, so that the straight six engines might be comfortably accommodated. From the outside it was hard, with a standard-bodied car, to determine whether it was a 15CV, 17Cv or 23CV Baby. Most obviously, the 15CV car came with disc wheels featuring a circle of simple perforations round the outer edge, while the more powerful Baby’s came with spoked wheels: it was, however, a simple matter to replace the wheels.

Cars could also be ordered in bare chassis format for customers wishing to make their own arrangements for a coach built body. The bare chassis prices in 1937 ranged from 42,120 to 58,030 francs according to engine size.

The other standard bodies advertises were four or two-seater cabriolets, the four-seaters priced in 1937 at approximately 6,000 francs above the steel-bodied saloons, and the two-seaters even more expensive at 72,700 or 83,610 francs for a 17CV or 23CV two-seater cabriolet. (At this stage the 15CV Baby was not listed with a two-seater cabriolet body.)

Sold for: 550000 USD
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