If you ever want to one-up someone’s classic car game, going pre-war is a solid move. Pre-WWII cars are often considered the crème de la crème of the vintage world, with stage presences matched only by their price tags. And some models are so rare and expensive, even serious collectors like Jay Leno sometimes can’t get ahold of them. But this rarified and jaded world might be in for a shock because a special Talbot-Lago T150-C-SS Teardrop Coupe might add a French touch to the ‘most expensive car’ list.
There’s stunning, and then there’s the 1937 Talbot-Lago T150-C-SS Teardrop Coupe
He might not own a Bugatti Atlantique, but Jay Leno does have at least one Talbot-Lago. Although it’s not well-known in the US today, the automaker’s pedigree is on Bugatti’s (originally French) level. Plus, like Bugatti, it earned its reputation and place in history by making high-quality chassis and powertrains for esteemed coachbuilders to clothe. And the T150-C-SS ‘Goutte d’Eau’ or ‘Teardrop’ Coupe might be Talbot-Lago’s crowning achievement.
Introduced one year after the Bugatti Type 57SC, the T150-C-SS is basically a street-tuned 1930s race car, Hagerty says. It rides on Talbot-Lago’s short-wheelbase sports-racing chassis and features independent front suspension as well as a 140-bhp 4.0-liter inline-six engine. That engine, incidentally, has an aluminum hemispherical head, so it’s kind of a Hemi. And it has a four-speed pre-selector manual transmission.
But while that was all heady stuff for the day, those features pale in comparison to the Talbot-Lago T150-C-SS Teardrop Coupe’s show-stopping looks. This is still widely considered “one of the most enduringly beautiful automobiles of all time,” Gooding & Co claims. And as noted earlier, this car’s aerodynamic aluminum angles aren’t Talbot-Lago’s work. Instead, credit for the Teardrop’s design goes to Joseph Figoni of coachbuilder Figoni et Falaschi.
The T150-C-SS headed to Amelia Island is a rarity among rarities
Being a coachbuilt car, the Talbot-Lago T150-C-SS Teardrop Coupe isn’t exactly common. Estimates vary, but the consensus is Figoni et Falaschi bodied 10-12 Teardrops. But even within this rarified group, the 1937 car, chassis #90107, headed to Gooding’s block is special, if not unique.
Firstly, it’s one of only two Talbot-Lago T150-C-SS Teardrops with enclosed front fenders, a design dubbed ‘Modèle New York.’ Secondly, it’s the only such Teardrop that still has its original body. Chassis #90110, the other Modèle New York, was re-bodied to match its original Teardrop appearance.
Plus, the #90107 Talbot-Lago Teardrop has a star-studded ownership history. It originally belonged to Princess Stella of Karputhala and later passed into the hands of several estates, including the Nethercutt Collection, which organized a well-document restoration. This T150-C-SS also has several awards under its belt, including from the Pebble Beach and Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
And when it returns to Amelia Island for the auction, it could unseat some members of the ‘most expensive cars’ list.
This Fioni et Falaschi-bodied Talbot-Lago T150-C-SS might become the most expensive French car sold at auction
As of this writing, the most expensive new car in the world is the modern Bugatti La Voiture Noire, which cost $13.4 million. Meanwhile, the Chiron Pur Sport technically takes the ‘most expensive production car’ record, because the Pagani only made three Huayra Tricolores, not 30 like the Guinness Book of World Records requires. Regardless, none of these cars is the most expensive one in the world. That would be the 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO that sold for $70 million in 2018.
Now, the #90107 Talbot-Lago T150-C-SS Teardrop likely won’t break the GTO’s record. But because of its original body status, it should command a higher price than chassis #90110. That car sold for roughly $4,096,000 in 2020, Hagerty says. Meanwhile, Gooding estimates #90107 will sell for about $10 million.
However, if it goes for slightly more, this Teardrop could beat the $10.4 million Bugatti Type 57S Atalante Gooding sold in 2020. At that price, it would also eclipse the Bugatti Royale Kellner that sold in 1987 for $9.8 million (before inflation). If that happens, this Talbot-Lago would be the most expensive French car sold at a public auction.
So, will it come to pass? We’ll have to wait until after the 2022 Amelia Island auction to find out.
[Update 3/7/2022: Well, this 1937 Talbot-Lago T150-C-SS just broke Gooding’s own estimates. It sold for $13.425 million, and is now officially the most expensive French car ever sold at auction.]
Follow more updates from MotorBiscuit on our Facebook page.