1930 Talbot AO90 ‘PL3’
Georges Roesch’s Talbot AO90 Team competition cars run by famed preparation specialists Fox and Nicholl caused a sensation when they appeared at the 1930 Double Twelve race at Brooklands, humbling far more complex and vaunted designs from Alfa Romeo, Bugatti and Bentley. They continued this form throughout the 1930 season of international sports car races. With strong results at the Irish Grand Prix, Ards TT, 500 Mile Race and perhaps most impressively Le Mans, with 3rd (1st in the coveted Index of Performance) and 4th places overall, beaten only by two Works Bentleys of much greater capacity and complexity.
The AO90 arguably combines all the best parts of the Roesch Talbot design era - the ultra-smooth, light and torquey 2,276 cc engine, the beautifully precise 'silent-third' manual gearbox, with the strong yet still compact 9 ft 3 in chassis. To make a car which is arguably superior to the more famous AV105, being lighter to drive and more nimble, with a real feeling of vintage era quality matched by very few other cars.
The team cars were specially constructed by Talbot for racing and were bodied by Hoyal with a striking lightweight fabric body, although mechanically fundamentally virtually standard. The three Team cars were issued the registration numbers PL 2, 3 and 4 and were chassis numbers 29901, 2 and 3.
At the end of that very successful 1930 season, the cars were sold off. ‘PL3’ was re-bodied by her new owner and appears to have taken part in a number of sporting trials, which are notoriously rough on a car. Sometime after this she seems to have disappeared, being last heard of in 1938. At this distance it is safe to assume that ‘PL3’ ceased to exist at some point prior to the Second World War.
During the 1970s arch Talbot enthusiast Nigel Wills read Anthony Blight’s book, 'Georges Roesch and the Invincible Talbot', and became fascinated by the Team Car 90s, as a result deciding to recreate the long since disappeared ‘PL3’, in order that the 90 Team would be complete once again. Having first received Anthony Blight’s blessing for the project, great trouble was taken to source the correct parts - a 2276cc ‘90’ specification engine, silent third gearbox and all the other correct mechanicals were assembled onto a 14/45, 10-foot wheelbase chassis shortened to 9 foot 3, as Talbot had done in period. The Hoyal built body that still survived on the very original ‘PL2’ was copied as accurately as possible. Ian Polson and the late Arthur Archer did most of the work on the car during the early 1980s. Nigel was also able to recover the ‘PL3’ registration number from DVLA and the result, finished in the mid 1980’s, is an accurate and sympathetic recreation of the 1930 Fox and Nicholl Team car, ‘PL3’, that had finished 3rd at Le Mans in 1930 and was 1st in the Index of Performance that year.
Following its completion Nigel used the car extensively for touring in England, France and Switzerland.
In 2014 the decision was made to take the car to Le Mans to compete in the 2016 running of the Classic race meeting, scene of the original greatest success of the Talbot 90s.
To this end FIA HTP were granted (valid until 2025) and with the event in mind, ‘PL3’ was sent to our sister restoration business I.S. Polson to have a stronger and more powerful engine built. Higher compression pistons, stronger con rods and a higher lift cam were fitted, whilst every aspect was carefully checked and very carefully reassembled. The resulting engine gave much improved power whilst still being fundamentally very standard as the Team Cars were at Le Mans in 1930.
In the true spirit of the 1930s Nigel drove ‘PL3’ from our premises near Newmarket on the road out to Le Mans. Once at this hallowed circuit ‘PL3’ hummed effortlessly around and was running strongly in upper mid field in the hands of the owner and John Polson, in a grid of 70 of the quickest and most coveted of pre-War sports cars, when frustratingly a fuel blockage dropped her back with the finishing line in sight.
Having now achieved all he dreamed of with ‘PL3’ and wishing to turn his attention to a VDP bodied Talbot AV105 Alpine tourer. Nigel reluctantly decided to part with ‘PL3’ and it passed to the current owner, who had for many years hankered after going pre-War racing and particularly competing in the Le Mans Classic event. To this end an entry was made for the 2020 Le Mans Classic which was accepted.
Whilst in his ownership the car was invited to the Goodwood Members meeting in 2019 where piloted by John Polson ‘PL3’ humbled much more famous marques and finished strongly.
In preparation for the owner racing the car and in particular Le Mans Classic 2020 ‘PL3’ received a full check-over and service by I.S.Polson in the summer of 2020, since which point it has been used sparingly.
Now that due to Covid 19 Le Mans Classic has been rescheduled to 2022, the owner has reluctantly decided that he is at the wrong time in his life to start racing and has decided to part with ‘PL3’.
The car’s entry has currently been carried over to the 2022 running of the event, but it is of course at the organisers discretion as to whether or not any potential new owner would be able to take over this entry with the car.
An exact recreation of one of the 1930s most successful British sports racing cars and with a proven record of eligibility for the world’s top historic racing events, ‘PL3’ is ready to punch above its weight and give the lucky new owner the opportunity to use this wonderfully driveable car on the world’s great motoring events.
Keyword Search Terms:Le Mans Classic, Goodwood, pre war, sports racer, rally car
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