Talbot teardrop

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Antonio(Tony) Franco Lago was quite an adventurer. After a creditable career in the Italian air force during the First World War he got to know Benito Mussolini quite well, but after falling out with the Italian dictator he ran off to France. He got into the habit of carrying a hand grenade in his pocket just in case anyone tried to assassinate him; an attempt was in fact made in 1919 in which his grenade saved his life and killed one of his would-be assassins!

After a career as an engineer and businessman in America and England he moved back to France in 1933 where he successfully took over the bankrupt Automobiles Talbot S.A and turned it round completely by cutting expenses, manufacturing lightweight sports/racing cars and racing his cars to help with both development and publicity.

He was reckoned to be very hard-working in promoting and publicising the glory of France for which he received the Legion d’Honneur; strangely the fact that he received a huge subsidy from the French government to build a car with a V16 engine for Grand Prix racing in 1938, but never in fact produced the car (rumour had it he spent the money building an aircraft engine factory) never seemed to come back to haunt him.

However one major thing he did for France; he built the Teardrop there; a car which could fairly be labelled a mobile sculpture. His streamlined creation was not only arguably the most beautiful car in the world at the time, but also the most expensive. It is still one of the most expensive cars that you could buy, and when they do come up for sale the price is in the millions of pounds.

The T150C SS, as it was originally named, wasn't just a work of art though; With a 4 liter six cylinder engine putting out 140 brake horsepower it was good for a 109 mph and it sold to buyers who not only wanted to race them but also show them off at concours d'elegance. It wasn't just for showing off though, this was a real racing car; helped by its light weight body it achieved a top three position in 1938 at Le Mans.

The Teardrop remains, probably, the most coveted car in history.