1937 Talbo-Lago Figoni et Falaschi

Story and photographs by Tom Strongman

The 1937 Talbot-Lago T150 C SS looks like a teardop.

 This stunning coupe, designed by French coachbuilder Figoni et Falaschi, is owned by the Nethercutt Collection of Sylmar, Calif. It won First in Class at last summer’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach, Calif., and some thought it should have been Best of Show. The Talbot has been called one of the most beautiful cars ever made.

 In the 1930s and 1940s, wealthy people often turned to coachbuilders, or automotive couturiers, to create distinctive cars that were the automotive equivalent of a hand-tailored suit or a designer gown. Figoni et Falaschi created some of their most exotic cars of this period, and often on the chassis of Talbot-Lago, Delage and Delahaye. 

 Richard Adatto, in his book Passion to Perfection: The Story of French Streamlined Styling, 1930-1939, chronicled Figoni et Falaschi’s work, among others.

 Joseph Figoni was born in Italy but moved to Paris when he was 3.

In 1935, he partnered with another Italian, Ovidio Falaschi. This pair often built two, three or more bodies for a chassis before they were satisfied.

 Long, flowing fenders were one of the key elements of many of the Figoni et Falaschi designs. Called “enveloppantes” by Falaschi, these fenders were created by welding together as many as 48 pieces of metal. The look was said to be inspired by artist Geo Ham’s paintings.

 The Nethercutt Talbot-Lago is unique because it has front fender skirts.

 Figoni et Falaschi was noted for its chrome flourishes, and the Talbot-Lago’s body is accented with tasteful swoops of bright work that take your breath away.

 The teardrop shape was aerodynamically efficient as the car had a top speed of 115 miles per hour. Addato’s book quotes Norman Bel Geddes, a visionary of American streamlined forms, as saying, “Speed is the cry of our era, and greater speed is one of the goals of tomorrow.”

 With the Talbot-Lago, Figoni et Falaschi raised automotive design to an art form. The streamlined form is as functional as it is attractive, and few are as attractive as this.

The Belgian 1906 Charron Giradot Voight (CGV) Berline de Voyage, above and left, was a forerunner of today's SUVs. It has a built-in toilet, among other things. The engine produced 90 horsepower.
The Andersons also owned the 1901 Winton Racer, right, that competed against Henry Ford in "The Race of the Century." Larz Anderson raced it in the first race in Massachusetts.