#0038 - Talbot-Lago T-23 Coupe Royal by Figoni et Falaschi, #93041, 1938
Photographed: The Elegance at Hershey, 2012. Owner: Joseph Cantore & Family
Baroness of Industry: One of maybe two T-23 chassis to carry the New York style of Figoni's famous teardrop coachwork, this car was ordered by Beatrice Cartwright, heiress of the Standard Oil Company coffers. Hence, I like to refer to this car as the Standard Oil Car, although its livery matches that of the notable Sinclair Gasoline green. Even the curves might hint at the iconic dinosaur from that other company, and so the connection is a bit confusing in my mind.
Ho Hum: At this point, I'm a little tired of the teardrop coupes. Sure, this particular example won a concours back when the competitions held relevance to the auto industry, appeared in the MOMA's seminal Eight Automobiles exhibition in 1951, and showed up at Villa d'Este in 2011 and won its class, subsequent to a fresh restoration two years earlier...
Photographer's Woes: But the thing is, the teardrop coachwork looks even more bubbly on these rare T-23—not nearly as sporting as the notch-back coupes, and not quite so elegant as the straight-bodied cabriolets, some of which were Figoni designs, simply of a less flamboyant persuasion. Photographing this car is a horror, and if you browse the internet you'll see a fair percentage of images throw the shape into odd proportions. The trouble is, as I've explained before, how thin the bonnet is in comparison with the bulk of the slant-back body. If you move to the wrong angle off the front quarter of the car, you get an awkward point at which the far-side A-pillar aligns with the bonnet, making it look as if the car has been sliced off like a boiled ham. Keep far enough along the flank, however, and the effect diminishes.
Even in my photo, the back end is starting to look a bit small near the end point. Those little wheels can't do enough to anchor what substantial visual weight is loaded on the rear axle. That, and the hood line is very tall in proportion, so you almost have a complete circle fitted into the profile, disrupting the cohesive presumption of the lines. This is to say that, yes, the lines presume to be elegant more than they succeed at elegance.
And as much as I like green, I'm just not crazy about the colors. I admit the livery is similar to that shown on a post-War Delahaye 135 by Pennock, but here the paint has all the shine and luster of a piece of Wedgwood, whose green porcelain isn't too far off. My parents always liked that stuff, scouring antique shops when I was a kid and exclaiming, "Ooo! Wedgwood," when they spotted a piece lurking on some mahogany shelf. I was hunting for old toy cars, of course—best I could manage under the circumstances.
Personally, I like Depression glass. It's practical, colorful, varies greatly in pattern, shape, and vessel, and represents a period elegance in direct correspondence to economy. It's quite the opposite of Wedgwood. And when was the last time you opened a luncheon set on a Cadillac Series 452 and saw Depression glass?
So I've grouched quite enough. I've called this car a dinosaur, and a piece of forgotten antique shop kitsch. Nevertheless, it is a great and important addition to this collection. I just don't get too excited over it.
Ultimatecarpage.com: With a feature on this T-23 New York Coupe although mind that they mark this down as a 3-litre car instead of a 4-litre, and also claim that it's the only one, which I believe is untrue. Competing information abounds.Back to Index