1938 Talbot-Lago T150C «Goutte d'Eau»
Sold at the RM Auction, Monterey, California in August of 2010 for $4,620,000.
Almost 70 years after they were created, any one of Parisian coach builder Figoni & Falaschi's voluptuous Talbot-Lago «Goutte d'Eau», "teardrop", coupes will stop viewers in their tracks. The dramatic teardrop shape is echoed in both the windows and the fenders and is considered stylist Joseph Figoni's masterwork. It is an iconic design of the streamlined automobile movement in the Art Deco era of the 1930s. Only 16 of these beautiful automobiles were ever built.
This vehicle is a 1938 Talbot-Lago 'Speciale' T150C SS «Goutte d'Eau». The Talbot-Lago «Gouttes d'Eau» were elegant and sporty. They could be participate in a concours d'elegance, but were equally at home on the race track. They had successful racing careers that included a podium finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Only eleven cars were constructed in this body style, plus five notchback "Jeancart" notchback coupes. The design gave the illusion of motion even at a stand-still. Because these cars were hand built, each vehicle has different and unique characteristics. This car, chassis number 90034, is the only one built on the long wheelbase.
Chassis number 90034 was ordered by a Parisian banker and was one of the most expensive automobiles of its time. It has a 4-liter, 6-cylinder, hemispherical combustion chamber, overhead valve and camshaft engine with a Wilson pre-selector gearbox. It was a class winner at the 24 Hours of Spa in 1948.
Giuseppe (Joseph) Figoni was an artist in metal. His unique flowing coachwork made the automobile a pearl shaped by invisible forces.
The wind was Figoni's enemy. It fought him wîth drag and swirls that sapped his cars' power. The automobile's Achilles' heel was its wheels and tires, interrupting air flow and creating the drag that challenged Figoni. His accomplishment of enclosing the wheels and tires to reduce drag led to the movement all across the industry to streamline the design of cars.
This automotive sculptor was born in 1894 in Piacenza, in Italy's Emilia region, and emigrated wîth his family as a boy to Paris where had apprenticed in a classic coach works. It eventually became Carrosserie Automobilie in Boulogne-sur-Seine near Paris's famous Longchamp race course, a mecca for the Parisian carriage trade. Figoni's creativity wasn't limited to sculpting beautiful and efficient coachworks, however. He also created and patented designs for disappearing soft tops and even a disappearing sunroof. Figoni developed a following early on, and what could be more understandable than that Tony Lago, attempting to revive Talbot, should establish a working relationship wîth him.
In 1935 Figoni acquired a partner, businessman Ovidio Flaschi, who also hailed from Italy, creating Figoni & Falaschi. On a personal basis the creative Figoni meshed well wîth Falaschi, whose capital and management skills allowed Figoni to concentrate on his designs which became even more creative and stylish after Falschi's arrival. Figoni was an early adopter of the brilliant paint colors and metallic finished being developed n the mid-'30s. He understood the value of stunning presentations. He was famous for his cooperation wîth the couturiers of Paris to create gowns in styles and colors that matched Figoni & Falaschi's cars in shows and concours d'elegance.
Figoni's automobile designs were flamboyant, graceful and gorgeous, carefully sculpted wîth the eye of an artist wîth an inherent appreciation for air flow. Like dunes wind-shaped around the obstacles of rocks and structures, the Goutte d'Eau coupes of Joseph Figoni accepted the influence of wheels, windshields, engines and passengers, expressing an intrinsic purity and simplicity that was revolutionary and stunningly beautiful to behold.
All 16 Talbot-Lago T150 C «Goutte d'Eau» coupes shared Figoni's signature teardrop fenders, steeply raked windshield, flush door handles, chrome accents and sloping fastback. Five were subtly notchbacked, known today as the "Jeancart" style after the buyer of the first example. The remaining 11, with the exception of chassis number 90034, were built on the sporting short chassis and are today known as the "New York" style. The first was built for socialite Freddy McEvoy (who acted as the agent for Figoni & Falaschi and Talbot-Lago in several Teardrop sales) and debuted at the New York Auto Show in 1937.
Characterized by a radiator shrouded in a rounded, streamlined shell, and a vertical oval grille, Figoni & Falschi's "New York" coupes are the ultimate expression of the «goutte d'eau» style. Each is subtly different in concept and details, reflecting the desires of their individual clients and the application for which they were intended.
Delahaye, Delage, Peugeot, Bugatti and even Bentley employed the «goutte d'eau» style, but it is the few, spectacular and individualistic Talbot-Lago T150 C SS Teardrop coupes of Figoni & Falaschi that have captured the imaginations of automobile enthusiasts worldwide.
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Update to last Tuesday's post about the
1953 Packard Patrician
1953 Packard Patrician
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