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The Talbot and the gangsters

Some time ago, an amateur of the Talbot brand, pointed out to us an article of the very respectable and serious site “crimino corpus” which, in 2014, evoked a link between “the prestigious Talbot-Lago T23 bodied by Chapron” (sic) and Pierre Loutrel, otherwise known as “Pierrot le Fou” considered to be public enemy No. 1 in post-war France.


So the question arose : « Did our Talbot T23 bodied by Henri Chapron belong to one of the greatest gangsters of the 1940s?».

It was worth going back into our archives to expose what we know about its history.

The Talbot T23 bodied by Henri Chapron in 1939 - Photo after restoration
The Talbot T23 bodied by Henri Chapron in 1939 - Photo by Charles Huc around 1947

already, in a delahaye...

Last April, we evoked, through a press photo from 1946, the improbable meeting between Public Enemy No. 1, Pierre Loutrel (known as Pierrot le Fou) and the famous Swedish consul Raoul Nordling, who left his name in the history of the liberation of Paris for having been able to negotiate the surrender of the German troops with General Von Scholtiz in 1944. All this with the involuntary participation of a Delahaye!

We reproduce the photo below as well as the comments on its back.

Big offensive of the Parisian police against the gangsters of the capital. A den of bandits was discovered last night in an inn in Champigny during a huge police operation.
The leaders of the gang tried to flee in a Delahaye stolen from the Swedish consul, but they were chased by the Prefect of Police himself and forced to abandon the car.
The diplomatic Delahaye, with punctured tires and machine-gun bullet holes in the doors, was brought back to the Quai des Orfèvres where the inspectors examined it thoroughly.

What the journalists didn’t know at the time was that among the gangsters who had managed to escape from the police was Pierrot le Fou.

The result is tragic: Pierre Loutrel’s body will be found a few weeks later on an island in the Seine. He had accidentally shot himself in the stomach after a last hold-up and murder of a jeweler in Paris.

Let's go back to our T23 Baby

Did our T23 Baby belong to the public enemy n°1, Pierrot le Fou?

Let us quote the site ” crimino corpus ” :

« Among the cars attributed to Pierrot le Fou, there is – in addition to the famous Citroën “Traction-Avant” (front-wheel drive) – the prestigious Talbot-Lago T23 bodied by Chapron, in 1939. The one of Pierre Loutrel would have been of red color »

First point: the T23 #93267 is indeed a prototype ordered by Talbot to Henri Chapron. Georges Dubois, Henri Chapron’s confidant, explains it in a 1967 letter.

Excerpts from the letter of G. Dubois : … The body was built for the company of Automobiles Talbot and was sold to a customer whose name is not noted on our book of orders … This body was indeed manufactured in 1939 … This car was carried out with only one specimen as prototype …

On the other hand, Talbot T23 #93267 was never red as we could see during the stripping of the black paint layer during its restoration (2011 -2012).

Reasonably, as we have developed in the book “Welcome Home Baby” (*), the most probable thesis remains a discreet sheltering during the whole conflict. Indeed, the Talbot was found in 1947 at the home of Charles Huc, a friend of Louis Rosier, who was himself very close to Antony Lago. Louis Rosier and Charles Huc worked together a lot, his wife told us.

Another hypothesis: What if the date of May 9, 1940 – the day before the German invasion – which states in the official registers that the car is no longer at Talbot’s was a pretense intended to make it escape a probable requisition? Who can say? but we would like to think that this is the truth.

(*) welcome home baby

The book

“Welcome Home Baby” is a book of just over 100 pages, lavishly illustrated, with a print run of 1,000 numbered copies, telling the story of the historical research we have done on the successive owners of the T23 Baby.

It is written in French with English translation.

The book is sold for 50 €. These 50 € are entirely donated to the Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Epinère. You can subscribe by contacting us.