(The Age)

Doug Whiteford is as pleased-as-punch after winning the 1953 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park aboard his self-prepared Talbot Lago T26C (Course).

It was too good to be true, he had won his second AGP at Bathurst 17 months before aboard the same machine. He took victory in the 250 miler in the park from Curley Brydon’s MG TC Spl s/c and Andy Brown’s MG K3. The dude with the fag at the far-left is Bill Wilcox who retired his Ford V8 Spl after 37 of the 64 laps.

I’ve written about this race before, the appearance of this high-resolution shot from The Age/Fairfax archive stimulated this reprise. 1953 Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park… | primotipo…

The photograph is so sharp you can see the instruments, quadrant for the four-speed Wilson pre-selector gearbox, chassis plate and front suspension.

#110007 was part of Paul Vallee’s Ecurie France team between 1948-1950 before being sold, via Henry and Peter Dale, to Geelong’s Tom Hawkes in 1950 and shortly thereafter to Whiteford. See Bob King’s article on the Dales and their contribution to the number of European racers which came to Australia; ‘Words from Werrangourt’ 1, by Bob King… | primotipo…

Louis Chiron jumps away from the rest of the field at the start of the April 1949 Jersey Road Race at St Helier aboard 110007. From the left, Raymond Mays’ ERA B-Type, Peter Whitehead’s Ferrari 125, and the Maserati 4CLT-48s of Gigi Villoresi, Bira and Emmanuel de Graffenried. Gerard won from De Graffenried and Mays Chiron DNF brakes (MotorSport)
110007 in the Silverstone pitlane during the July 1949 British GP meeting. Q15 and DNF universal joint for Chiron, up front De Graffenreid’s Maser 4CLT-48 won from Bob Gerard’s ERA B-Type and Louis Rosier’s T26C (MotorSport)

Strong results for 110007 before coming to Australia was Louis Chiron’s 1949 French GP victory and Harry Schell’s second place at the Coupe du Salon at Montlhery that October.

The car had chassis rails derived directly from Talbot sports car pattern. Front independent suspension was by lower transverse leaf spring and upper pressed steel rockers while at the rear a simple rigid axle was suspended by semi-elliptic leaf springs. Friction and hydraulic shocks were fitted as were Bendix cable operated brakes. A Wilson pre-selector gearbox was used.

The arrival of this modern straight-six cylinder 4482cc, 210bhp @ 4500rpm triple Zenith/Stromberg fed F1 car (4.5-litres unsupercharged, 1.5-litres supercharged) heralded the need for topline Australian competitors to have cars capable of outright wins as the sport evolved away from handicap events in our premier class.

Doug Whiteford passes the abandoned Jack O’Dea MG Spl aboard 110007 during his victorious ’53 AGP run at Albert Park (The Age)
1949 Talbot Lago T26C cutaway by Leslie Cresswell

Technical Specifications…

The head and block of Walter Vecchia’s 4482cc six were of aluminium alloy. The engine was considerably undersquare with a bore/stroke of 93x110mm. Its two camshafts were located halfway up the block with short pushrods operating two valves per cylinder, the cost-effective design had some of the advantages of a more traditional twin-cam layout.

It produced circa 240bhp @ 4700rpm in the early stages of development, rising to 280bhp @ 5000rpm in 1950 when fitted with a twin-plug, twin-magneto cylinder head.

Carburation was by triple downdraught Zenith-Strombergs with two rocker covers proclaiming the name Talbot-Lago. A Scintilla magneto provided the spark, initially to one centrally located plug per cylinder.

Engine shot of Yves Giraud-Cabantous T26C #110006 in the 1949 Silverstone paddock. That motor swallowed a piston after 39 of the 100 laps (MotorSport)

A Wilson preselector gearbox was used, while heavy it was reliable and favoured by the drivers. The prop-shaft was offset to the right to allow a low seating position.

Front independent suspension incorporated top rockers, a lower transverse leaf spring and friction shock absorbers. The rear axle was suspended by good old fashioned semi-elliptic leaf springs, funds didn’t allow development of an independent design; the T26 was the last GP car to use semi-elliptic cart-springs.

Chiron watches while his car is readied at Silverstone in 1949 (MotorSport)

Credits…

The Age/Fairfax Archive, Peter Valentine’s Old Melbourne Town FB page, oldracingcars.com, Leslie Cresswell, Adam Gawliczek

Tailpieces…

(MotorSport)

A swarm of Talbot Lago T26Cs during the 1949 British GP.

‘Our’ 110007 in Chiron’s hands is at left, #17 is Yves Giraud-Cabantous machine (110006), DNF piston and Louis Rosier’s third placed machine #110001 at right.

In mid 1954 Whiteford sold the car after updating to the twin-plug headed T26C #110003. The car was raced by Rex Taylor, Ken Richardson, Owen Bailey and Barry Collerson in-period before becoming a historic racer. Bernard Charles Ecclestone has owned it since the early 1980s.

Whiteford heading up Mount Panorama on the way to victory in the 1952 AGP

Finito…

Comments
  1. David Wilson says:

    Jersey road race 1949 won by bob Gerard ERA . Very nice photo .regards

  2. Mr Squiggle says:

    Interesting. From the schematic and the photo in The Age, it looks like the gear lever was positioned between the driver’s legs.

  3. Graham Edney says:

    Virtually very article about this car notes that Louis Chiron drove it to win the 1949 French GP (officially the “Grand Prix de France) and he did; but there is a small catch.

    Period historian George Monkhouse’s famous book of race results warns that “The title ‘Grand prix de France’ must not be confused with that of the classic event the GP de l’Automobile Club de France (A.C.F.) commonly known as the ‘French Grand Prix’ “.

    In reality Chiron’s win was in a fairly minor event held just this once after WW2.

    To add to the confusion, while Chiron’s event was held at Rheims, the GP de l’ACF that year was run at Comminges and was for sports cars. It was won by a C. Pozzi whose Delahaye, if it still exists, has an equal or stronger right to wear the battle honour the Lago wears on its scuttle.

    France was still in pretty serious post-war disarray in 1949 and things took a while to settle back into their traditional routines.

    • markbisset says:

      Hi Graham,

      You might be a little harsh given post-war recovery difficulties, while noting French Grands Prix were held at Lyon-Parilly and Reims in 1947-48.

      These days the organising club, in looking at the continuum of events which comprise a country’s national GP are irrelevant. As are their original names (in the UK – Royal Automobile Club Grand Prix – , the US – The 1908 Grand Prize of The Automobile Club of America – for example without thinking too hard. In Australia we are so fuggin’ stupid we call an event held in December 1936 – The South Australian Centenary GP – The 1937 Australian GP).

      I note Charles Pozzi’s Delahaye win in the August 1949 GP De L’Automobile Club De France.

      The AIACR (as in 1948) nominated the Grands Prix of Britain, Belgium, Switzerland, France and Italy (European GP) as Grands Epreuves in 1949. It is the single-seater race (of course) which is recognised as the French GP in that year by most historians. For example MotorSport magazine describe their record of it as “1949 Unofficial French Grand Prix”.
      17 cars started the 310 mile French GP at Reims Chiron won, 25 started in Britain, 14 at Spa, 20 in Switzerland and 24 at Monza. In addition, in 1949, there were between 17 and 21 ‘other GPs’ depending on your source.

      It isn’t correct, I don’t think, to call the race a minor event held just once. To pick up one of your sentences and recast it; In reality Chiron’s win was in a Grand Epreuve regarded as such in the long history of one of the oldest races in the world, and the first Grand Prix.

      Finally, I note the continuum of the French GP was lost by its absence from the F1 calendar between 2009 to 2017.

      If Monkhouse was still with us it would be interesting to see his view today!

      Mark

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