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1936 Delage D8-120 news, pictures, specifications, and information
Aerosport Coupe
Designer: Letourneur et Marchand
Chassis Num: 51012
Sold for $1,705,000 at 2007 RM Auctions.
This 1936 Delage D8-120 Aerosport Coupe carries chassis number 51012, has an eight-cylinder engine with 105 horsepower on tap, a Cotal four-speed electromagnetically actuated transmission, and four-wheel drum brakes. It has a body designed by Letourneur & Marchand in aerodynamic and sporty form. It is the prototype example for the short run of bodies that would soon follow. In 1936 it was shown at the Salon de Paris, which opened on October 1st.

The D6 was introduced in 1930 and provided a wider range of buyers the opportunity to purchase a Delage. It had a six-cylinder engine and a sticker price that was more reasonable than some other cars in the marque's lineup. The four-cylinder D4 followed in 1933 which was another attempt to keep the marque afloat during the difficult Great Depression era.

As the years of Great Depression progressed, the struggle continued. Delage was forced to sell his showroom on the Champs Elysees and was left with limited funds for new product development. He turned to Peugeot but they were unwilling to offer assistance. A variety of refinancing efforts were tried but to no avail; in 1935 the company entered receivership. The assets were liquidated with many purchased by Walter Watney, the Paris distributor. He sold the manufacturing rights to Delahaye which resulted in a line of Delahaye vehicles wearing Delage badges, radiators, and hoods.

Engineer Jean Francois developed an eight-cylinder engine from the pushrod overhead valve Delahaye 138 and 135 sixes. It was placed in the D8-120 and quickly became the highlight of the Delage marque. The D8-100 was the long wheelbase version and the D8-120 was the shortened wheelbase version. The D8-120 was offered as a rolling chassis and supplied to coachbuilders to work their craft and create custom and unique creations to their exclusive and demanding clients. Before the commencement of the Second World War, around 100 examples were created.

This vehicle was offered for sale at the 2007 Monterey Sports & Classic Car Auction presented by RM Auctions, where it had an estimated value of $1,500,000 - $2,000,000. It is the prototype Salon Paris Show Car and has traveled just 36,000 kms since new. It is the last and only fully unrestored example in existence. Bidding was fierce on auction day, as the value continued to climb. As the gavel fell it found a new owner for the selling price of $1,705,000 including buyer's premium.

By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2007
Aerosport Coupe
Designer: Letourneur et Marchand
Chassis Num: 51012
Sold for $1,705,000 at 2007 RM Auctions.
Introduced in late 1929 and noted for its six-foot long hood and graceful sweeping fenders, the Delage D8 was among the most handsome cars of its era. The D8-120 was one of several later versions of this luxury car. This example is the prototype Aerosport Coupe, and was exhibited at the 1937 Paris Salon on the Delage stand, where it was purchased on the spot. Reaction to the car was so positive that six more were built. The car remained with the original owner until 1953, when it was sold to the Mashek Collection, where it remained until 2004. It has since been very sympathetically restored to its original colors and configuration.
Coachwork: Henri Chapron
This Delage D8 120 was created for the 1936 Paris Auto Salon. It has a cabriolet body built by Henri Chapron, who started his atelier in 1919 and who was by the late 1930s developing custom body designs for French luxury vehicles, like Talbot, Delage and Delahaye. This early Chapon design was built on less than a dozen Delage D8s. This car's first owner, a Parisian poet by the name of Adrien Saint Ange Plet, took it to the Concours d'Elegance on the French Riviera in 1937 as well as in Nice and the glamorous resort of Juin Les Pins. During the war years, the Delage was hidden away. Subsequent owners used it on many European tours. A restoration was completed in 2008.
Louis Delage was born in 1874 and was handicapped by blindness in one eye. This handicap would not hinder him at all in creating some of the most elegant and beautiful creations of the pre-WWII era, and into the early 1950s. He acquired his engineering abilities while working for Peugeot. He worked with the company until 1905, when he left to build cars bearing his own name.

Delage had a strong loyalty to France, and he endeavored to build cars that would bring honor to his country. He began racing in 1906 and acquired some success. By 1913, he had constructed a worthy racing machine to claim the Grand Prix de France. His racing machines continued to evolve. In 1914, they featured double overhead camshafts and brakes on all four wheels.

Rene Thomas drove a Delage in the 1914 Indianapolis 500 where he emerged victorious. In 1924, he set a land speed record at just over 143 mph.

During World War I, the newly built factory in Courbevoie was used for the production of military items.

During the mid-1920s, the Delage cars were powered by eight-cylinder engine displacing 1.5-liters. In 1927, Robert Benoist drove a Delage with an inline-eight cylinder engine to a victory at the Grand Prix de France, Spanish Grand Prix, British Grand Prix at Brooklands, and the Grand Prix de l'Europe at Monza. After this brilliant accomplishment, Delage announced his retirement from racing.

Delage had left the sport on a high-note, but there were troubled times in its future. The Great Depression rattled many industries, including the automotive world. By 1935, Delage had felt the strains of this painful time in history, and was forced to enter liquidation. A Delage dealer named Walter Watney purchased the company's assets. This proved to be a pipe-dream for Watney, and soon was looking for aid from an automotive partner who could help bear the costs of engineering, development and manufacturing. Luckily, he found the assistance he was searching for - at Delahaye. An agreement was reached which allowed the Delage name to continue.

The first new product from this union was the D8-120. Mounted in the long, graceful bonnets were an eight-cylinder engine. The engine was basically a Delahye 135MS six with two additional cylinders. Some of Europe's greatest coachbuilders were tasked with creating designs for the chassis. The list includes Saoutchik, Chapron, Pourtout, and Letourner et Marchand.

The Delage D8's were very impressive automobiles that had style and glamour in a high-performance package. Though the economy disparity of the time begged Delage to move down market, the company refused, and continued to produce their high-priced machines.

The Delage D8-120 had hydraulic brakes, Cotal electromagnet gearbox, and a suspension comprised of transverse leaf springs in the front. The 4.3-liter eight-cylinder engine was capable of producing nearly 100 horsepower in unmodified guise.

The Delage D8-100 was a long-wheel base version of the short-wheelbase D8-120. Both the D8-100 and D-120 were built as a conventional rolling chassis and supplied to the coachbuilders for completion. The coachbuilders would often construct the final product to the exact specifications and requirements supplied by the customer. Because of this, many of the vehicles and their specifications vary considerably. Prior to World War II, around 100 examples were created.

Production of the Delage vehicles continued until 1953.

By Daniel Vaughan | May 2010
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