In the long and varied history of the automobile, a precious few machines have stood proudly as true works of art. Of course, beauty being subjective, there have been a great many cars that are widely considered to be beautiful, but only a few are counted as true “rolling sculpture”. Late 1930s France was a hotbed for the idea of the automobile as rolling sculpture, and the workshops of Figoni et Falaschi was the origin of the most famous and jaw dropping streamlined designs. Figoni’s “Goette d’Eau” (teardrop) styling grew out of the designer’s sense of boredom with styling traditional square and upright cars. Figoni replaced his straightedge with a set of sweeps, designing bodies with truly remarkable compound organic curves and speed forms. Most of the staggeringly beautiful bodies that Figoni et Falaschi built in the Goette d’Eau style were placed atop Delahaye, Delage or Talbot-Lago chassis.
George Balaschak is a former Pratt & Whitney engineer who was so taken by the jaw-dropping beauty of the Talbot-Lago T150SS Figoni et Falaschi teardrop coupe, that he decided to build his own. Thankfully for us, Mr. Balaschak’s engineering background makes him a bit of a perfectionist and a stickler for detail so the end result bore so much more than just a passing resemblance. His first car was so well received that orders came in for others, and TLC Carrossiers was born. Rather than looking for off-the-shelf components, he started from a clean sheet with a purpose-built perimeter chassis, supported by independent suspension designed by Balaschak specifically for this car. The powertrain and major mechanical components came from Ford and the whole car is clothed in a gorgeous composite body that mimics the Figoni-penned original with impeccable detail. In actuality, the TLC Carrossiers’ Talbo (no “T” at the end) is somewhat smaller than the real Talbot-Lago T150SS, but Balaschak’s design acumen shows through as the car remains beautifully proportioned, particularly sitting atop 16-inch chrome wire wheels. But what truly sets the Talbo apart from typical “component cars” or self-built kits, is the exquisite quality that is found throughout the construction. The bespoke chassis is laser cut and welded, then fully coated for corrosion protection. Suspension is of TLC’s own design, and the engine ancillaries are repositioned as to fit perfectly beneath the composite body. Leather and wood is of the utmost quality and the body is beautifully trimmed and finished in Glasurit paint. Make no mistake, this is a proper hand-built automobile that was built to satisfy the demands of its meticulous designer.
This 1993 Talbo Series 1 coupe is the fifth car built, and a truly exquisite example of this remarkable automobile. It is rather unusual in that the 5.0 liter Ford H.O. V8 (as fitted to the contemporary Mustang GT) is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, giving the distinctly pre-war looking Talbo surprisingly modern performance. This very car served as the subject of Patrick Beddard’s cover feature and road test in Car and Driver magazine in 1994. It has covered just 8,580 miles from new and it remains in truly outstanding condition. The vibrant blue paintwork is in excellent condition over a straight and clean body. The bonnet fits very well and the doors shut with a satisfying click, even the fuel filler is cleverly hidden behind the “F” on the rear, a testament to the level of detail that went into the construction of this car. It features excellent chrome and polished stainless in keeping with the original Talbot-Lago Figoni style, and it rides on 16-inch chrome wire wheels. Special attention was paid to the tires, with vintage style Michelins providing just the right balance of sidewall proportions.
Equally impressive is the luxuriously trimmed interior which features plenty of high-quality leather upholstery, wood trim and lush carpets. This car’s gray leather on the seats and door panels presents in excellent condition, with only very light creasing of the driver’s seat accrued over the scant 8,500 miles this car has covered. The wood trim on the dash and door caps is formed from solid pieces of Honduras Mahogany and beautifully hand finished with deep gloss. Equally impressive is the engine-turned alloy instrument panel which houses vintage-style gauges, ahead of a wonderful four-spoke wood wheel. The whole cabin is an extremely well-judged balance of old and new, executed with an impeccable sense of quality. Modern luxury equipment includes power windows, power locks, air conditioning, AM/FM stereo and power adjustable seats.
As with the original Figoni et Falaschi Talbo Lago, the running gear is a fine match for the speed-form styling. While the Ford sourced 5.0 liter fuel-injected V8 is somewhat less exotic than a Talbot-Lago T150’s inline six, it achieves the same result in providing the gorgeous machine with the performance to match the looks. The Talbo can reach 60mph from a stop in under seven seconds, and cruises beautifully with a suitably taut and controlled ride for spirited cornering. As one would expect from a car of such low mileage, the engine runs beautifully, feeding power through the rarely-equipped 5-speed manual gearbox, also from Ford.
TLC Carrossiers has built fewer than 30 of these cars, each one created to individual specification to ensure exclusivity. Few automobiles of this nature work so well as the Talbo in terms of road manners, reliability and quality. It is a proper car, it is thoughtfully engineered, beautifully designed and built to a very high standard. This example has the added cachet of being a Car and Driver cover car, as well as having covered very few miles. It remains in beautiful condition inside and out, ready to be enjoyed and ready to turn heads wherever it goes.
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