Marlene’s Motor

1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport cabriolet to be auctioned; it attracted the attentions of Marlene Dietrich and has a Hermés interior


In October 1949, the chameleon-like actress and singer Marlene Dietrich (1901 – 1992) was photographed “descending elegantly” from a custom-built T26 Talbot Grand Sport by coachbuilders Franay at the Paris Salon. That car subsequently won the 1er Grand Prix d’Honneur at the Concours d’Enghien in June 1950 and is now due to be sold at auction in May.


The “outrageously exclusive” short-wheelbase Grand Sport, chassis 110121, was first presented in white and came with a luxurious red leather interior and fitted luggage by Hermés. It was described as “an automobile destined for the serious sportsman and chic Parisian society in equal measure”.


Marlene Dietrich “descending elegantly from the car, the crowd surrounding it completely mesmerized – a very rare instance of the occupant upstaging a Grand Sport” at the Paris Salon in October 1949
As it is presented today – The 1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport cabriolet by Franay


Subsequently subject to another makeover by Franay whilst still owned by Talbot in the winter of 1950, the 4.5-litre car was presented at the Brussels Auto Show in January 1951 in black with a new, simpler grille design. After appearing at the Concours de la Grande Cascade that summer, the vehicle passed into the ownership of an unknown “manufacturer of hard candies” and was given yet another grille – this time in the style Pininfarina Ferrari 212 Inter.


Returning to the Concours d’Enghien in June 1952 and then having its final appearance on the Franay stand at the 1953 Paris Salon, the Grand Sport was sold to a butcher from Versailles. It was bought for just $800 (the equivalent of £5,100, $6,600, €6,100 or درهم24,200 today) in 1960 by Jim Bandy, an American military officer stationed in France, and then taken by him to Baltimore, Maryland in 1963. Sold on several times and subject to an engine swap with a Talbot Grand Sport Saoutchik coupé, chassis 110101, the car was partially dismantled in the 1970s and it was not until 1992 that its restoration was to properly begin under the guidance of the highly regarded Austrian restorer Egon Zweimüller.


Completed in 2010, the restored “one-off cabriolet” is now described as “compelling and unprecedented”. It again has a Hermés interior and luggage – this time in black – and has been verified by the Talbot-Lago and Saoutchik authority Peter M. Larsen.


Offered with an unsurprisingly punchy estimate of £1 million to £1.3 million ($1.3 million to $1.6 million, €1.2 million to €1.5 million or درهم4.8 million to درهم6 million) by RM Sotheby’s, the 1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport cabriolet by Franay will be sold at Villa Erba on Lake Como on the 27th May.


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  1. If Marlene had been alive today, I’d have made her mine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Phwoah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!! Beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I could imagine myself on the French Riviera or indeed by Lake Como in this beauty. Could I have George Clooney to go with it please too?

  3. It is gorgeous. Sally can see herself using it on the French Riviera, I’d like to drive it up and down Worth Avenue in Palm Beach so please send it my way. Thanking you.


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