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Restoration Talbot-Lago T15 Cabriolet: Swiss Beau

Restoration Talbot-Lago T15 Cabriolet
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D the newly wedded couple was in seventh heaven. The opera and operetta tenor Max Lichtegg trilled a little song on the first exit in the new car, and his wife Olga sat beaming in the passenger seat. Her father had given the two of them a Talbot-Lago for their wedding, a T15 with a particularly elegant special convertible body from the Swiss company Carosserie Worblaufen.

Mothballed: Almost 40 years in the barn

The wedding trip in the Talbot-Lago T15 Worblaufen Cabriolet took place in 1937. Almost 20 years later, Ferdinand Hediger, now known as a classic car expert and author, bought this wonderful vehicle, which he finally mothballed on the threshing floor of a barn in early 1965 at a mileage of 115,000. Hans Vögtli celebrated his 19th birthday that year. The fan of sporty cars, who had already secretly practiced driving at the age of 13, concentrated in the following years on the newly released compact sedans from BMW. Later he drove various Ferraris at a gallop across the streets. But in the mid-80s he suddenly discovered tranquil travel in a classic car. Today he doesn't know exactly why that happened, but it certainly played a role 'that the police were getting more and more strict,' he laughs. In any case, he decided to buy a Rolls-Royce 20/25. 'The whole family enjoyed this convertible,' says Vögtli, and from then on the old-timer bug grabbed him.

He worked his way into the subject, bought and sold a number of classics and built a small collection. At one point he expressed the wish for a convertible with a Swiss body among like-minded people. About two years passed before Ferdinand Hediger got in touch. On the phone he was talking about a Talbot that he had once put away in driving condition. Vögtli was immediately hooked, but Hediger initially slowed his euphoria. It took another year until he finally got the Talbot-Lago T15 Worblaufen Cabriolet off the stage and he got in touch again. Vögtli went there immediately, was enthusiastic and bought. He transported the Talbot-Lago T15 Worblaufen Cabriolet home and looked at it for a long time.

Good substance makes the restoration of the Talbot-Lago T15 easier

The trained machine mechanic restored the Rolls-Royce himself after an engine failure, but an expert had to be found for this wonderful one-off. Thehe found in the immediate vicinity. Paul Müller brought the good piece to his company Classic Auto Müller in Moosleerau in the canton of Aargau and began with a detailed inventory. 'The Talbot-Lago T15 Worblaufen Cabriolet turned out to be complete, and apart from the completely rusted taillight housing, all add-on parts were preserved in such a way that they could be refurbished,' says Müller. And adds, 'That should prove important.' First, however, he delighted his new customer with a surprise.

Vögtli still remembers the call and Müller's amazing request that he come over for a test drive. In fact, Müller had started the six-cylinder engine with the help of rust remover and a few tricks. With the enthusiasm of two teenagers, the two raced through the area with the dusty and rather worn-out Talbot-Lago T15 Worblaufen Cabriolet. In curves you had to hold one of the doors that did not stay in the lock because of the rotten wooden frame. But for Müller it wasn't just a fun tour. He paid attention to noises in order to be able to identify damage to the gearbox or the rear axle, for example.

Joint project with specialists

After the exit, the restoration of the Talbot-Lago T15 Worblaufen Cabriolet began. Müller involved Spengler, Sattler and Wagner in the work at an early stage. The saddler himself dismantled the top of the Talbot-Lago T15 Worblaufen Cabriolet so that he could see it when it was installed. He discovered a strange copper wire in the rear area that led from the convertible top to the body panel. A sewn-in copper mat appeared in the top itself. The solution to the riddle: At that time, Worblaufen provided lightning protection for the passengers.

Müller placed the dismantled body of the Talbot-Lago T15 Worblaufen Cabriolet on a mobile frame, similar to an alignment bench, so that Wagner and Spengler work independently could. Wagner in particular had a lot to do because of the poor condition of the wood, but the craftsman who was about to retire turned out to be an excellent expert.

Engine block damaged by frost: a specialist from France helps

Meanwhile, while cleaning the engine, which was totally dirty on the outside, Müller had discovered a crack in the block. During the test drive of the Talbot-Lago T15 Worblaufen Cabriolet, the thick and oily layer of dirt had sealed the crack, which was presumably frost damage. Vögtli had got a second of these rare 2.7-liter engines from Hediger, but that too had a crack. After a long search, someone was finally found in France who could weld the block of the Talbot-Lago T15 Worblaufen Cabriolet. Other parts such as pistons, valves and guides were made from scratch. The engine had to be drilled out and fitted with new liners.

The procurement of parts such as the gearbox bearings or the wheel bearings kept Müller and Vögtli busy. Both made use of their numerous contacts. But especially the add-on parts that are not from Talbot originated, but had been assembled by Worblaufen, could not be found. Müller therefore spent a lot of time working on everything possible, because luckily the car was complete. He also coordinated the work of the other craftsmen involved. After about three years, the painting was due. After careful consideration, Vögtli decided not to go for the original black, but for two shades of blue, 'in order to emphasize the side bead a little more', as he justifies this step.

After another year, the mammoth project approached Towards the end. A lot of work, a lot of sweat and a lot of patience went into this restoration. But on the day when the Talbot-Lago T15 Worblaufen Cabriolet was approved, all efforts were forgotten. Hans Vögtli can now go on tour with his wife in a magnificent and unique automobile. Will it then also sing a song like the first owner once did?


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