1931 Talbot AV105 Brooklands Speed Model For Sale
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|Offered from the personal collection of Talbot restorer and aficionado Ian Polson, here we are proud to offer an example of the purest and undoubtedly the rarest variant of Talbot Designer George Roesch’s legendary AV105.|
In conjunction with racing team Fox and Nicholl Talbot had done incredibly well in International Sportscar racing in 1930, with many class wins and overall placings, doubly remarkable given they were competing with the very standard 90 model which was a 2.3-litre car having to run in the 3-litre class. The only comparable car which had consistently outperformed them were the Works supported 6C 1750 Alfa Romeos.
For the 1931 season Clement Talbot made a conscious decision to go for outright race wins on the world stage. As such they went to enormous effort and expense to create a full 3-litre contender, the AV105, which would be lower but no heavier than the 90. To achieve this extensive use was made of the then cutting edge alloy Elektron (90% Magnesium) wherever possible. The cylinder blocks were made of aluminium alloy and the car offered here was fitted from new with such a block numbered AV10. It also has its original cylinder head which is cast iron. There are reasons to believe the first cars also had aluminium cylinder heads, although it has never been possible to prove this conclusively.
The resulting competition cars were highly effective and achieved a great deal of success in international sports car races. Sadly for Talbot however Alfa Romeo had leapfrogged them in competitiveness by bringing out the legendary 8c for the 1931 season. This was virtually a Grand Prix car in drag and the AV105 could never quite beat it so the big international wins Talbot craved would never happen.
Clement Talbot sales ledgers show that in addition to the four ‘GO’ Team racing cars another 7 cars were made in 1931, incorporating all or some of the features of the racing cars, before the design was productionised in 1932. PJ2288 is the only known survivor of these seven cars and as the GO cars were rebuilt for the 1932 season with new engines, chassis frames, brakes etc., the car offered here, chassis number 31060 (the tenth car built) registered from new PJ 2288, is the earliest surviving AV105 which is not a ‘GO’ Team Car and the only survivor in full 1931 specification. It incorporates most of the special features of the GO cars, namely Elektron sump, gearbox casing, rocker cover, brake back plates and many other smaller parts, even the dip-stick being in Elektron. The sump also has the mounting flange for a float type automatic filler to top it up during a long race, a feature only found on the early competition cars. It is fitted with brake drums unique to the 1931 AV105, high ratio steering worm and the radiator shell has a profile unique to this car.
Given its very special specification and pre-dating productionising of the AV105 ‘PJ 2288’ must have been ordered new by someone with a lot of clout at the Talbot factory. Sadly it has not so far been possible to determine who the first owner was, the factory sales ledgers only recording that it was delivered to agents Warwick Wright as a bodyless chassis on the 5th November 1931. ‘PJ’ appears to have been very little used by the buyer and it is next heard of when Peter Hawker, son of a wealthy Australian grazing family, enquired in 1935 of famed London sports car dealer Jack Bartlett as to the availability of fast sports cars from his stock. In reply in June of that year Bartlett wrote outlining various SS Mercedes Benz cars, Grand Prix Bugatti and Maserati he had for sale and then mentioned ‘PJ’ as a special early “hand-built” 105 “exactly the same chassis as the Fox and Nicholl racing cars”, Bartlett also mentioned that the car has done few miles and had been in store for three years.
Hawker bought PJ2288 as it was just the fast and exotic sports car he had in mind and, as Australia had a heavy tariff on imported coachwork, the original body was removed from the car before shipping and an ugly replacement was built for it on its arrival in South Australia.
Peter Hawker was a founder member of the Sporting Car Club of South Australia and an active competitor. He even made an unsuccessful attempt on the Australian Land speed Record with a twin engined special he constructed himself. He died while a very young man in 1939 and PJ2288 was sold to Peter Tilley in Adelaide.
In 1948 Peter Hawker’s brother, David, imported the mechanical remains of BGH22, a 1934 Alpine Rally Team Talbot, which he had owned while an engineering student in Cambridge in the 1930s. Peter Tilley swapped the engine, gearbox and steering box/column from PJ2288 for those parts from BGH22.
Tilley used the car with swapped parts until it was sold to Lawrie Rofe in Melbourne in the 1950s. It then found its way to Sydney where it was owned by Russ Short, the long term secretary of VSCC of Australia. Russ used the car once at the 1962 Silverdale Hill Climb and then put it away for the rebuild he felt it required. He started to re timber the ugly Australian body but no further work was done.
Meanwhile in 1967 Ian Polson, a young Australian engineering student desperate to acquire a Roesch era Talbot, heard a tip-off that the Hawker hoard of special Talbot parts was still in Adelaide. These parts were located and Ian was astounded by what he found including the now unique 1931 engine with its original aluminium cylinder block, gearbox and steering box/column from ‘PJ’, together with a substantial number of parts from ‘BGH 22’.
These were purchased by Ian and almost immediately he established the whereabouts of the rest of ‘PJ’ with Short in Sydney. A visit was made to Sydney but Russ had no intention of selling the car which he still intended to restore. Ian appreciated the importance of the parts and stored them for future use.
Time passed and by 1978 Ian had setup in the UK as a Roesch Talbot specialist. Regular contact had been maintained with Russ Short but all attempts to obtain PJ2288 failed. Russ died in 1999 and left the still unrestored PJ2288 to his nephew. Another visit to Sydney was arranged and finally Ian was able to acquire the car and reunite it with the missing original parts.
Restoration commenced under the personal supervision of Ian with all aspects being carried out to his exacting standards. The condition of the mechanical components confirmed the car had done very few miles during its life, all mechanical parts which are numbered on a Talbot being found to be correct to the car, even the carburetter being stamped with the correct engine number. Because of its uniqueness and age a decision was made not to use the original aluminium block, a newly manufactured exact copy replacement being fitted, the original block being offered with the car.
No photos have so far been found showing ‘PJ’s original body and the only period reference to its coachwork is Bartlett describing it as “touring” in his letter. Given the cars very sporting specification and the fact it retained the correct type heart shaped fuel tank and chassis fittings the decision was made to body it as a Brooklands Speed Model, one of the rarest models catalogued by Talbot. This is a wider and more civilised version of a ‘GO’ Team car body. The majority of this work was carried out at our sister restoration business, Talbot specialists I.S. Polson, with panel work by Caspar Killick and trim by John Foy.
The restoration was completed in 2014 since then ‘PJ’ has been used extensively on the road by Ian, including a six day Alpine tour in 2015. He has delighted in its smoothness, performance and light and nimble handling; just as Talbot and Georges Roesch intended. Although rebuilt for Ian to a virtually entirely standard specification ‘PJ’ has also been used extensively in rallies, races and hillclimbs, completing the Flying Scotsman rally three times without problem, various races and hillclimbs with many class wins and most recently an overall race victory at Snetterton in October. It has always been driven to and from competitive events.
Only offered for sale because advancing years mean that Ian is no longer able to enjoy ‘PJ’ as the manufacturers intended. PJ 2288 will offer a new custodian the most sophisticated specification and the purest vision of Talbot and Georges Roesch’s push for international sports car racing glory. A great all round sports car eligible for the world’s great historic motoring events.
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