My Car Quest

November 11, 2019

This Talbot Lago Too Rare to be Discovered Stolen?

Think again…

by Wallace Wyss –

The Talbot Lago is flat out beautiful. Possibly the most beautiful car ever designed before the war.

I am speaking of the ’38 Talbot Lago T15-CSS.

Now ya think that a car that beautiful, the owner would keep an eye on it right. Or that nobody would steal it because, hell it’s so rare it’d be spotted in an instant.

And yet the car-dissembled–was stolen almost two decades ago from a Milwaukee garage. The deal was that the old man that owned it, a car collector, who had been restoring it since he bought in in 1967 for a mere $10,000, was building it as his own lifetime project.

But then his son died and he was so disheartened by that, it apparently sidetracked the project. The owner was Roy Leiske, and the theft from his shop took place on March 4, 2001.

Turns out the car, and nearly all the parts that go on it, was stolen by means of a crane where the thieves plucked the car up and put it in a truck, and maybe it was an industrial area and nobody noticed.

When Leiske died in 2005, his relatives inherited the car, except nobody knew where it was. The original owner’s survivor then found out the car dealer had it and sued.

By the time he discovered its whereabouts it had been restored in France and sold for $7.5 million in 2015. In the search for the car it was found that the thieves forged papers to ship the car to Europe. It was only when the car dealer that bought it attempted to title the car in Illinois that it popped up as stolen.

Leiske’s cousin, Richard A. Mueller, was the family member who had inherited ownership. When he asked the car dealer, a Mr. Workman, for the $7 million car back, and the businessman refused, Mueller sued. It looked at first like the family was going to lose because ordinarily Wisconsin law sets the clock for suing over unlawful possession at six years but fortunately for the family it turns out that the clock was started ticking by the date the car dealer refused to give back the car. An independent action that can “begin” the clock running at a different time than the initial theft.

The Court of Appeals reinstated Mueller’s lawsuit and ordered the lower court to finalize the case. A copy of the ruling is available in a 250k PDF file at the source link below.

1935_Talbot_Lago_T150C_SS_Teardrop_by_Figoni_et_Falaschi_800w

1935 Talbot Lago T150C SS Teardrop by Figoni et Falaschi

LESSONS LEARNED

This was simply too rare a car to steal, with the number of these models made very small. It seems to me, in buying a rare car, someone should pay a club historian for that particular marque to “vet” the vehicle’s history right back to the day it rolled out of the factory.

One amazing thing is that the car was once owned by Brooks Stevens a famous Wisconsin-based industrial designer who had apparently abandoned the car. But that explains how it got to Wisconsin.

 

 

The car, after it came back from Europe, was also housed at a famous East Coast exotic car restoration shop and that makes me wonder why those famous shops should keep their reputation unsullied when, with a little fact checking, they could find a car that is so rare had been reported stolen. It seems to me that anyone in the chain of ownership who knew it was stolen is taking a risk in selling the car on.

Source: Mueller v. TL90108 (Court of Appeals, State of Wisconsin, 7/24/2018).

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

 
 
 
 
 
THE AUTHOR/ARTIST: Wallace Wyss painted a portrait of a similar Talbot. Information on availability is available by writing mendoart7@gmail.com

 
 
 
 

Summary
This Talbot Lago Too Rare to be Discovered Stolen?
Article Name
This Talbot Lago Too Rare to be Discovered Stolen?
Description
This was simply too rare a car to steal, with the number of Talbot Lago models made very small. It seems to me, in buying a rare car, someone should pay a club historian for that particular marque to “vet” the vehicle’s history right back to the day it rolled out of the factory.
Author

Comments

  1. I have some photos I took of a red T150 SS that I took at Brook Steven’s museum in Mequon, Wisconsin. Also got a triptych poster set that featured the car. His museum had a very friendly and engaging feel, with the cars on gravel and visitors walking on concrete sidewalks. I don’t recall all the other collecter cars in the museum since the Talbot Lago is the lust of my life, but he also had a variety of the Studebaker styling models.

    • Forgot to mention the year I visited, 1982 or 83. Not sure what happened to the rest of the collection since then.

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