- 1935 Talbot 105 Airline saloon
- First registered on 3 December 1935
- Fully restored over the course of 10 years
- 1 of only 39 built
The Georges Roesch-designed Talbots have long been recognised as being among the most beautifully engineered cars of the inter-war period – something that is perfectly demonstrated by this elegant Talbot 105 Airline saloon.
In total, 97 BI 105 Speed models were produced, of which only 39 wore the elegant, flowing Airline coachwork, which was built at Clement Talbot’s bodyshop in the former Darracq works at Acton. First registered on 3 December 1935 – on the registration number CJJ 629 – chassis number BI 4010 was acquired in 1968 by John Young, a Talbot enthusiast who was a student at the time but would go on to play a key role in the Talbot Owners’ Club and was later editor of its magazine.
The logbook is included in the history file. In 1952, the Talbot was owned by Leonard Isbitt of north London, and it stayed in the south-east of England until being acquired by Young, who was based in Yorkshire. By then, it had been dismantled and would remain like that for more than 30 years because of – as Young put it – the ‘ruinous cost of restoration’.
Eventually, Young bought himself a complete, running and restored Airline saloon, and sold CJJ 629 in October 2004. It was then painstakingly restored over the course of the next 10 years by its new owner, with help from some of the leading marque specialists. A new ash frame was built and the bodywork was restored by Ross Road Garage in Stockton-on-Tees before being painted Jaguar Squadron Blue.
The trim and headlining were renewed, and the six-cylinder engine was rebuilt – the cylinder head was crack-tested and fitted with hardened valve inserts plus new guides, valves and springs. The epicyclic gearbox was overhauled, and a new crownwheel and pinion were fitted.
The chassis alignment was checked and everything was blasted, etch-primed and finished in two-pack chassis paint. The springs were re-tempered and reset to original specification, the shackle bushes were renewed and new shackle pins fitted where needed, and the lever-arm dampers were reconditioned.
An electric fuel pump has been fitted as well as the original AC unit, and the carburettor has been replaced with a later Zenith that features choke dimensions and jet sizes that are similar to the original. A modern oil filter was fitted and a new exhaust system used with twin silencers.
The end result is a superb example of Georges Roesch’s wonderfully elegant Talbot 105 Airline saloon – an eminently usable Post-Vintage Thoroughbed, with its pre-selector gearbox and ingenious ‘traffic clutch’, and performance that is strong enough to comfortably keep up with modern traffic.
Now being offered for sale by the Classic Motor Hub, it wears brand-new Michelin tyres and comes with a photo album documenting the restoration, the original handbook, and even a book on ‘Lubrication and Care of the Wilson Pre-Selective Self-Changing Gearbox’.
The famed Talbot 105 had its roots in the 14-45 model that was launched in 1926. That car’s six-cylinder engine would gradually be enlarged over the next few years under the direction of Geneva-born engineer Georges Roesch, and it formed a cornerstone for what Talbot expert Anthony Blight would later refer to as ‘the most progressive range of cars in the country’.
It was enlarged to 3 litres in 1931 for the new AV 105 model, which gave 105bhp at 4500rpm in touring form – and as much as 140bhp for racing. The 105 enjoyed significant competition success, in fact, winning its class in the 1931 JCC Double-Twelve at Brooklands, finished third overall at Le Mans that year and again in 1932, and claiming a Coupes des Alpes on the 1932 Alpine Rally when all three team cars completed the event without penalty.
The AV 105 lasted from 1931 to 1934 and used a 9ft 6in chassis. It was followed in 1935 by the BI 105 Speed Model, which used a 10ft chassis and was introduced shortly after Talbot had been taken over by the Rootes Group.
The Autocar tested a Talbot Airline saloon in 1936, and prefaced its report by calling it, ‘A fine British car that is a sheer pleasure to handle’. The engine’s combination of power, flexibility and smoothness came in for particular praise, as did the overall level of comfort – something that Talbot had specifically set out to improve at that time, without compromising its cornering ability.
The magazine carried out performance testing at Brooklands, recording an average maximum speed over the quarter-mile of 84mph, with a best run of 89mph. The price – complete with four-door, four-light Airline saloon coachwork – was listed as being £625. That compared with £850 for the saloon-bodied version of Alvis’s latest Speed 20 SD.
Towards the end of the 1930s, the Roesch Talbots would be increasingly diluted by the use of components from other Rootes marques – Humber in particular. Shortly afterwards Roesch left the automotive industry completely, but he left behind a glittering legacy.