- 1931 Talbot 75/90 for sale
- First owned by racing driver and record-breaker Goldie Gardner
- An exceptional Roesch Talbot with continuous history from new
- Unique four-seater tourer coachwork by KC Bodies
- Period Brooklands history
The Georges Roesch-designed Talbots of the 1930s are among the most desirable British cars of their time thanks to their competition pedigree and reputation for engineering excellence. This particular Talbot 75/90 adds to that with a fascinating ownership history that begins with an order placed at the 1930 London Motor Show by renowned racing driver Major AT Goldie Gardner.
Essex-born Gardner was a veteran of the First World War who had started racing at Brooklands during the mid-1920s. He later enjoyed a long association with MG, lapping Brooklands at over 120mph in a single-seater K3, and was also a prolific record-breaker. During the early 1950s, by which time he was more than 60 years of age, he set 43 speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Gardner’s Talbot was chassis number 29518, which was fitted with engine number 236. It was supplied via Warwick Wright and registered GO 8057 on 25 March 1931. The unique four-seater tourer coachwork was by KC Bodies and it’s thought that Fox & Nicholl then upgraded this 75 model to high-performance 90 specification at the request of Gardner.
At some point during 1931, Gardner sold the Talbot via Fox & Nicholl to 19-year-old John Harris, whose family owned a construction company that specialised in building golf courses. A fine golfer himself, Harris went on to become a golf-course architect of considerable renown and designed hundreds of courses all over the world.
Harris would keep GO 8057 for 45 years, and in 1965 he wrote to Motor Sport magazine to say that the Talbot ‘has taken me in complete safety for more than 200,000 miles and I have never had an anxious moment due to the road-holding’.
He also noted that the car had received two overhauls, one in the mid-1930s and the other 20 years later. The 1950s work was carried out by Fox & Nicholl and included an engine rebuild in which new inlet and exhaust manifolds, a single downdraught SU carburettor and a Scintilla magneto were fitted.
In 1955, Harris took the car to an event at Goodwood so that it could be driven by Georges Roesch himself. Harris reported that Roesch was impressed with its performance and Cecil Clutton – President of the VSCC – wrote to Harris thanking him for making the Talbot available, saying that ‘it made all the difference having such a perfect example’.
In 1976, Harris sold the car to Peter Pollard, who had the interior retrimmed as close as possible to the original colours by local firm EJ Baker & Co. He also carried out various other repairs in time to use GO 8057 for the Silver Jubilee Rally at Ascot in 1977.
Pollard used the car sparingly over the next couple of decades, and in the early 2000s he decided to strip down the chassis until only the main body section was attached. The engine was rebuilt by noted specialist IS Polson and the bodywork was repainted, and in 2016 this highly eligible car was entered into the Concours of Elegance at Windsor Castle.
Now being offered for sale by the Classic Motor Hub, GO 8057 is an exceptional and well-known Roesch Talbot that boasts impeccable provenance and comes with an extensive history file that includes a wealth of evocative period photographs – plus invoices that go back to the 1950s work carried out by Fox & Nicholl.
This charismatic Talbot still features its original coachwork, engine and ‘silent third’ gearbox, and has real presence both on the road and at rest. The upgrade to 90 specification has given it strong performance and it makes an exhilarating road car, particularly when the small windscreen is folded flat. As long-term owner John Harris put it, ‘There is some real character in the Roesch Talbots.’
Designed by Swiss-born engineer Georges Roesch, the Talbot 14/45 had proved to be an immediate success when it was launched in 1926, to the extent that its sales helped to save the struggling marque.
Three years later, its six-cylinder engine was stretched to 2276cc for a run of larger and more powerful ‘18hp’ models. The first of these was the 75, which was introduced in 1930 on the same basic chassis as the 14/45. Surrey-based dealer Fox & Nicholl soon recognised this car’s sporting potential, so Roesch raised the compression ratio and carried out other engine modifications in order to boost power and create the 90 model, which achieved great success at Brooklands and Le Mans.
The chassis for these 18hp cars was produced in two different wheelbase options – 9ft 6in and 10ft – while bodywork was supplied by a number of different coachbuilders. The bare chassis was priced at £425, with catalogued bodies including the 2/3-seater ‘double dickey’ at £525 and the drophead saloon at £600.
These cars formed the mainstay of the Talbot range into the mid-1930s, with upgrades along the way including the replacement of the ‘silent third’ gearbox with a Wilson pre-selector unit. As the company’s catalogue put it at the time: ‘The Talbot has won a wide circle of firm friends in every section of the community to whom the superb fitness of this thoroughbred motor has special appeal’.
When parent company Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq got into financial difficulties in the mid-1930s, Talbot was taken over by the Rootes Group. As the decade progressed, the famous ‘Roesch Talbots’ would be increasingly diluted by the use of components from other Rootes marques and Roesch eventually left the automotive industry, his legacy secure thanks to the brilliant cars he left behind.