Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but if there's a consistent entry in any list of the world's most beautiful cars, it is the Talbot-Lago T150C SS Teardrop Coupe built by Parisian Carrosserie Figoni and Falaschi during the late 1930s. On Saturday May 27, 2017, a spectacular example of the car is going to auction at Villa Erba on the shores of Italy's Lake Como.
The years leading up to WW2 saw some of the most beautiful cars ever built, with limited production automobiles such as the Mercedes-Benz 500/540 K Spezial Roadster and the Talbot-Lago T150C SS Teardrop Coupe available to uber rich clients.
Both were capable of over 100 mph, but while the 540K Spezial Roadster was a very fast bohemoth for autobahn cruising, the Talbot-Lago T150C SS was a very different type of automobile, capable of stopping sharply from 100 mph, getting around the corner at the end of the straight as fast as a racing car, then doing it again and again.
Derived from racing, the chassis and aerodynamic efficiency of the Teardrop meant it was highly competitive on the racetrack, with a "showroom stock" Talbot-Lago T150C SS Teardrop placed third overall at the 1938 24 Hours of LeMans, averaging 76.75 mph (123.515 km/h).
So strong was the car's 140 bhp, 3,996 cc inline six-cylinder engine (with hemispherical combustion chambers and triple Stromberg carburettors), that the car remained competitive in the early post-war years, winning the Spa 24 Hour race in 1948. Look closely at the images above and you'll recognize the Talbot-Lago entering the famous "Eau Rouge" corner at Spa Francorchamps circuit (top left).
These days the 14 extant "Goutte d'Eau" Talbot-Lagos built by Paris-based Italian automotive couturier Giuseppe Figoni are among the most valuable cars on the planet, as they combine Art Deco elegance with world-leading performance of the period, and when it comes to a modern day concours event, they're hard to beat.
We've written extensively about Figoni et Falaschi in our auction coverage over the last 15 years and below are just a few of the creations of Giuseppe Figoni (Falaschi was the money man). They're not all Talbot-Lagos, but an agreement between Figoni and Lago saw the companies work together exclusively for a time and the "Goutte d'Eau" became a standard production model Talbot-Lago, though be cautious not to confuse more modern mass production cars with the tailored coachbuilding of the pre-war years, when every car was different.
Look too at the prices fetched by Figoni's creations, and you'll understand why the car that will go to auction at Villa Erba is such a prize. The estimate of €3,200,000 to €3,800,000 is conservative and if two high net worth enthusiasts get competitive at the globally-important Concorso D'Elegenza Villa D'Este event, they may well move the model into eight figure territory.
There are more images of Figoni's fabulous rolling sculptures in the image gallery, each with links to the auction descriptions or source.
Want a cleaner, faster loading and ad free reading experience?
Try New Atlas Plus. Learn more