1938 Talbot-Lago T-150C-SS Teardrop Coupe. Collection of J. Willard Marriott, Jr. Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

1938 Talbot-Lago T-150C-SS Teardrop Coupe
Collection of J. Willard Marriott, Jr., Bethesda, MD

The sporting Talbot-Lago T-150-C chassis inspired the design of many open roadsters and closed cars, most notably a series of curvaceous custom coupes. Sensational in their heyday, the French-produced Talbot-Lagos remain highly valued today. Streamlined, sleek, and light enough to race competitively, they were called Goutte d’Eau (drop of water), and, in English, they quickly became known as the Teardrop Talbots. Famed Parisian coachbuilders Joseph Figoni and Ovidio Falaschi patented the car’s distinctive aerodynamic shape. 

Figoni & Falaschi built twelve “New York-style” Talbot-Lago coupes between 1937 and 1939, so-called because the first was introduced at the 1937 New York Auto Show at the Grand Central Palace. Five more cars, built in a notchback Teardrop style, were named “Jeancart” after a wealthy French patron. It took Figoni & Falaschi craftsmen 2,100 hours to complete a body. No two Teardrop coupes were exactly alike.

Talbot’s president, Antony Lago, offered a top-of-the-line SS (Super Sport) version with independent front suspension. The competition engine, a 4-liter six cylinder topped with a hemi head, could be fitted with three carburetors for 170-brake horsepower. Some cars were equipped with an innovative Wilson pre-selector gearbox, with a fingertip actuated lever that permitted instant shifts without the driver having to take his hand off the steering wheel. In 1938, a racing model T-150C-SS Coupe finished third at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

This car was the first “New York-style” Teardrop coupe. Its first owner was Freddie McEvoy, an Australian member of the 1936 British Olympic bobsled team. A prominent player on the Hollywood scene, McEvoy’s ready access to celebrities made him an ideal concessionaire for luxurious automobiles.

hemi head: an internal combustion engine that is designed with hemispherically shaped chambers that optimized combustion and permitted larger valves for more efficiency

pre-selector gearbox: a type of manual gearbox or transmission that allows a driver to use levers to “pre-select” the next gear to be used, and with a separate foot pedal control, engage the gear in one single operation

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