The “Monoplace” and the “Lago Grand Sport,” described by T. G. Voore
One of the most interesting newcomers to 1947 racing was the Talbot single-seater, which made its debut in the Grand Prix de Nice. Large-engined unsupercharged cars are normally at a disadvantage on twisty round-the-town circuits, but in this race Chiron held his own against the lighter and faster blown 1-1/2-litres, and at 30 laps had reached third place. High temperatures and unsuitable fuel brought about the car’s retirement with a blown gasket, but the true form of the combination was shown at the end of the season, when Chiron brought his car to victory in the French Grand Prix at an average speed of 77.94 m.p.h. over the 814 miles of the Lyon circuit.
The car shows a progressive development from the four-litre sports cars which captured first place and the team prize in the 1937 T.T. race at Donington. The capacity was raised to 4-1/2-litres in 1938. Reduction of frontal area, good streamlining and an increase of horsepower, following the adoption of the double-camshaft lay-out, have all played their part in improving the performance, and the all-out speed of the Monoplace is now quoted at 146 m.p.h.
The engine is an efficient six-cylinder unit with hemispherical combustion chambers in an alloy cylinder-head and valves set 95 degrees apart. These are operated through push-rods and rockers from two camshafts carried high up on either side of the cylinder-block. The inlet valves are appreciably larger than the exhausts. Bore and stroke are respectively 93 and 110 mm., giving a capacity of 4,482 c.c.; 14-mm. sparking plugs are used, with magneto ignition. The engine has a safe maximum of 4,600 r.p.m., and the crankshaft is carried in seven main bearings.
The engine is fitted with three Stromberg-Zenith downdraught carburetters, and runs on Ternaire (60 per cent. petrol, 25 per cent. Ethanol, 15 per cent. benzol). The fuel tank holds 28 gallons and the fuel consumption is given as 8-1/4 m.p.g. Dry-sump lubrication is used, in conjunction with an oil radiator, and the system holds 5-1/2 gallons. The transmission follows normal Talbot lines, with a single-plate clutch, coupled to the operating pedal of the Wilson self-change box, an open propellor shaft and an orthodox back-axle. Independent springing is used for the front wheels. The stub axles are carried at their upper ends by transverse swinging links, the bottom ends being coupled to a transverse laminated spring.
Half-elliptics are used for the back axle. Friction and hydraulic shock-absorbers are fitted on the front and rear suspension.
The chassis is of box-section, and the car has a wheelbase of 8 ft. 2 in. The front wheels have a track of 4 ft. 5 in., with 4 ft. 3-1/2 in. for the rear wheels. The brakes are hydraulically operated, and work in 16-in. brake-drums; 5.25 by 18 in. Dunlop tyres are used in front, while the rear tyres are of 7 in. section.
The straight run of the side-members allows an exceptionally sleek single-seater body to be fitted. The bonnet is domed to clear the valve cover of the top of the engine and then sweeps down to meet the chassis fairing. The fins of the oil-cooler project slightly from openings on each side of the scuttle.
When I visited the factory last year, Monsieur Lago told me that he was planning to build fifteen or twenty single-seaters, and in fact a considerable number of racing bodies had already been completed, and were waiting for the chassis. I understand now that not more than six will be built for the present racing season.
The single-seaters are of course handmade, and at a price of £3,000 or so represent little profit for the firm. As a consequence, Monsieur Lago only sells the racing cars to drivers who can be relied upon to make the best use of them. As in 1947, the policy is to build the racing cars for “independent” drivers and teams, and it is not intended to form an official Talbot team.
As mentioned above, only a limited number of the single-seater racing cars are being produced, but for 1948 a new two-seater super-sports car is announced, the Lago Grand Sport. This car is designed with a view to being run in hill-climbs and rallies, and is produced only in chassis form. It provides room for a two-seater body, with ample luggage space behind, and the maximum speed is given as 124 m.p.h., as compared with 105 m.p.h. for the standard Lago Record sports chassis.
The engine of the Grand Sport is based on that of the Lago Record, with two camshafts operating overhead valves set at 45 degrees, and a compression ratio of 7.5, giving a rated horse-power of 190 at 4,200 r.p.m.
Transmission and chassis details follow those of the racing car, with slightly smaller brake-drums. The wheelbase is of course longer, measuring 8 ft. 8 in., with a front and rear track of 4 ft. 6 in. and 4 ft. 4 in., respectively. The fuel tank holds 23 gallons. With a low-mounted custom built coachwork the car should be an attractive proposition, and will no doubt be well to the fore in 1948 sporting events on the Continent.