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Sexy French diva restored to elegance

Weybridge, Surrey - This rare, ultra-elegant, 1949 Talbot Lago T26 Record Cabriolet will be the star attraction at the Historics auction at Brooklands on Saturday 8 March.

Every aspect of this magnificently presented 65-year old two-door roadster, from its 4.5-litre, straight-six engine, through the flowing bodywork and chassis beneath, to the sumptuous interior has been meticulously restored by a team of specialists whose passion for perfection is a tribute to the original post-war design from Talbot Lago.

Most T26s were fitted with four-door sedan bodies, making this two-door convertible all the more rare

A power output of 127kW from its under-stressed, long-legged engine, mated to a proven chassis and running gear, gave it a top speed of more than 170km/h and made the T26 a real driver's car - with a top speed of more than 170km/h - when it was introduced in 1947.

ALL THE MORE RARE

Most T26's were fitted with four-door sedan bodies, making this two-door convertible all the more rare. It was originally supplied to a customer in the United States, and was apparently taken off the road, locked up in a garage and abandoned, sometime around 1970, in the fall-out from an acrimonious divorce.

When it was rescued nearly three decades later, it was in a very sad state, but two factors made it eminently worth restoring: Firstly, it was complete, so that even if a component was too far gone to be repaired, it could used as a template to make a new one, and secondly, all the serial numbers match - engine, chassis, body and frame - which was not always the case even on a brand new T26.

The car was stripped down to the bare chassis, painstakingly cleaned and refinished; each and every component was carefully refurbished, refinished or even recreated before assembly.

The hand-crafted twin-cam six-cylinder engine and Wilson pre-selector gear-box (a rare and expensive option even in 1949) were stripped, cleaned, overhauled and re-assembled, with the same attention to detail lavished on all the ancillaries - including the exquisite instrumentation.

DEEPLY ELEGANT

The flowing bodywork was totally dismantled, the wooden frame replaced using the original as a pattern and the steel panels repaired where necessary.

Then the body was re-skinned using the original panels and refinished in a deeply elegant French blue, typical of the period.

Finally, the interior was entirely recreated to original specification by former Rolls-Royce specialists, using the finest quality leather hides to ensure it matches the same impeccable standards as the remainder of the car.

The T26 has done minimal mileage since restoration and comes with a huge file of documents and photographs that tell the story of its 65-year journey to Weybridge. It is, however, registered in the UK, licensed and roadworthy, and it's expected to fetch £120 000 - £150 000 (R2.2 - R2.7 million).

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