This is the story of a 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C SS, a.k.a. “Teardrop,” one of only two models built with a race-cars engine. With chassis number 90108, the masterpiece car has a current value of over $7.6 million.
The story begins in 1967 when a self-made millionaire named Roy Leiske bought the “Teardrop” in pieces for $10,000. His aim was to restore and re-assemble the vehicle, tinkering with the car amid towering piles of machine parts.
Roy Leiske’s obsession continued for decades until, in 2001, the Talbot-Lago disappeared. The car had remained in pieces at the back of his former factory, from where it was stolen, also in parts, together with all the paperwork connected to it.
After Leiske’s death, his cousin Richard Mueller inherited the stolen car and his estate. The Teardrop could be located neither by the police nor by the FBI or Interpol. Finding the precious vehicle seemed to be a lost cause until one day, an attorney specializing in locating stolen classic cars contacted Mueller.
The name of the attorney is Joseph Ford. He never actually worked in a law firm but kept his legal license. The self-employed detective used his legal qualification to represent himself successfully in similar cases. Long story short, Ford offered Mueller to help him locate the car, take care of the legal requirements, sell it, and split the funds.
Skipping forward to 2016, when a shell corporation popped up, trying to register the now-fully-restored 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C SS in Illinois. However, somebody named Workman had purchased the car the previous year for $7 million from a European broker and refused to give up the vehicle.
While Workman is no amateur in this field, Ford’s efforts and knowledge of the law may finally pay off. The vehicle is currently being held at a high-end restoration business in Massachusetts until the Wisconsin Supreme Court arrives at a decision. Federal prosecutors have announced a five-count indictment in the case – four counts of transporting a stolen motor vehicle in international commerce.
Today, the T150 sits in limbo in the Essex shop of Russel, as Workman battles with Mueller and Ford over who will possess it. The nature of the theft remains a mystery, and not the only one when it comes to rare sports cars. And the 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C is a real masterpiece!