1939 Talbot-Lago T150C SS Aerocoupe

Three primary factors led to this impressive sales price; good unrestored condition, an exciting competition history, and immaculate provenance

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There were four Talbot-Lago T150C SSs made with Pourtout Aerocoupe bodies. Two are in private collections, and there are shadowy rumors of another in pieces, although no one has seen so much as a picture. The last is offered here, with exceptional provenance. Begun as war clouds gathered in 1939, it was not seen complete until the late 1940s.

It was built to plans drawn by legendary designer Georges Paulin, and assembled by one of France’s premier coachbuilders. After the war, the T150C SS Aerocoupe was owned by a wealthy gentleman driver who drove it to many victories on the road courses of France. It remains in original condition, showing the makeshift field modifications that racing sometimes demands.

By the early 1930s, Anthony Lago had negotiated the rights to the Wilson preselector gearbox, a breakthrough invention that allowed one to select a gear with a lever in advance of its need-the gear would not engage until the clutch was operated.

In the course of trying to find a factory in France in 1933, Lago entered into discussions with Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq. Lago made a deal with the British parent whereby he would be paid a salary to turn the French side of the company around and share in any profits.

After staving off bankruptcy, it all came right in 1937, with a new, lightweight T150C. The lightweight and the preceding 4-liter racked up successes at Marseilles, where they finished 1-2-3-5, Tunisia, Montlhèry (1-2-3) and the British Tourist Trophy.

In the midst of this, Tony Lago introduced his masterpiece in August at the Paris-Nice Criterium de Tourisme. It was a touring version of the open T150C that he had been racing. Designated the T150C SS, it had a 4-liter, 6-cylinder overhead-valve engine with triple Zenith-Stromberg carburetors. Output was 140 horsepower, allowing the car to cruise the poplar-lined autoroutes at nearly 100 mph.

The body was a stunning coupe by Paris coachbuilder Figoni et Falaschi, nicknamed the Goutte d’Eau. The literal translation is drop of water, but in English, the design is usually referred to as a teardrop.

Less than 30 T150C SSs were made, and today they are in the car collector’s pantheon. The majority were bodied by Figoni et Falaschi, but a series of four Pourtout Aerocoupés was also completed.

The car offered here, Talbot-Lago T150C SS 90120, was owned by the wealthy amateur sportsman Pierre Boncompagni, who used the nom de course, “Pagnibon.” In 1950 and 1951, racing the Talbot under the flag of Ecurie Nice, he won overall or in his class at such evocative venues as Nice, Orléans, the Circuit de Bressuire, Agen, and the Mount Ventoux Hillclimb, a 13-mile uphill dash. After adding his pages to Talbot’s racing history, Boncompagni died behind the wheel of a Ferrari at a race in Hyères in 1953.

Miles Collier

Miles Collier - SCM Contributor

Miles is a retired business executive, practicing artist, investor, philanthropist and noted authority on vintage automobiles. He nurtured his interest in art at Yale University, where he received a B.A. in Painting. When family business intervened, he received an MBA from Columbia University. He retired as Managing Partner of Collier Enterprises in 1995 and returned to painting, which he does professionally. Collier maintains a significant automobile collection in Naples, FL. He recently hosted one of his prestigious symposiums on automobile connoisseurship.

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