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An incredible 1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport Figoni Fastback Coupé has scooped the top award at Chantilly Arts & Elegance following its return to France.
The stunning teardrop tourer is owned by Czech collector Robert Kudela and made the trip to Chantilly after winning the Post-War Touring class at last year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, becoming a hot favourite to continue its success on its return to home soil.
Originally commissioned by Mr Fayoll, an industrialist known as the ‘Zipper King’, the striking coupé featured a number of intriguing design cues including an eye-catching line of chrome stripes across the bonnet said to imitate the stock and trade of its first owner.
Shortly after being completed, the Talbot-Lago went on display on the Figoni et Falaschi stand at the 1949 Paris Motor Show before being exported to the United States and disappearing for a number of years.
It was eventually rediscovered by Lindley Locke in 1960 following a serious accident the year before, and remained in his collection until 2011 when his widow, Betty, set about its restoration. That work stalled, allowing Kudela the chance to buy the car and finish it to the extraordinarily high standard that has brought it such success on the international stage.
Other highlights from the show field included a dazzling array of Avions-Voisins topped by the class-winning 1935 C25 “Clairiere” of Franceso and Julia De Baldanza. In stark contrast, a 1957 Camionette looked like something out of a Bond villain’s mountain hideout.
Bentley’s centenary was marked by five open pre-war models ranging from 1929 Speed Six Le Mans Open Tourer to 1936 4 ¼ Litre 3 Position Drophead Coupé, alongside five closed cars from the same period and a selection of post-war models.
McLaren racing cars were also given their own class, led by the 1995 F1 GTR that took victory at Le Mans and a 1988 MP4/4 made famous by the rivalry between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost during a remarkable season that delivered the team 15 podium finishes.
Several significant Aston Martins also made the journey to Paris, including the DB4GT Zagato ‘1 VEV’, the 1952 DB3 in which Peter Collins made his sports car racing debut, and the only DBR1 not to have raced at Le Mans.
As has become tradition, the club displays at Arts & Elegance proved almost as impressive as the concours contenders, with hundreds of privately owned classics dotted throughout the Chateau’s sprawling and picturesque grounds.
French car clubs really embrace the event, evidenced by a remarkable gathering of Facels of almost every type and colour. More than 20 joined the display, including coupé and cabriolet Facel 6s, a trio of Facel IIIs, eight Facilias, five Vegas and HK500. They were joined by a Simca 8 Sport, Simca 9 Sport and a Ford Comete.
Club Datsun France brought together an enticing display of four 240Zs and a brace of 260Zs, none of which would have looked out of place in the Japanese cars class on the main show field.
DS Heritage also impressed with a fantastic selection of 20 classics, nine of which were SMs, including an achingly cool racer complete with black press steel wheels and roll cage.
Mercedes-Benz also featured prominently, with a showing of nine 190SLs from the Mercedes-Benz 190SL Club de France, and several other models clustered around a Mercedes-McLaren SLR on the Club Mercedes-Benz de France stand.
The most varied selection was offered by local group the Association des Vehicules d’Epoque de Chantilly Lamorlaye, which counted among its stars a Lotus Elan, Alfa Romeo Giulia SS, Lancia Fulvia Zagato, Karmann-Ghia T34, Fiat 500 and a rare Honda N360.
Perhaps the most intriguing display was dedicated to sign-written commercials. Few seemed original, but that didn’t spoil the overall effect and the stand was packed with appreciative visitors throughout the day. A butcher’s van in the style of Porsche’s Pink Pig was a personal favourite.
Scroll down for a few more of our favourite cars and displays – and find out what happened at Bonhams’ auction at the show here.