Sold for $1,000,000 at 2021 RM Sothebys : Monterey.
Grand Prix Racer
Chassis #: 18488
Engine #: 3/4
Automobiles Delage was founded in Paris in 1905, and like so many other early automobile manufacturers, quickly added motor racing to its list of activities. Albert Guyot won the Grand Prix des Voiturettes at Dieppe in 1908, arguably the company's first significant racing victory, helping to promote the brand and showcase the vehicle's capabilities. By 1910, Delage was building their own engines, and a year later Paul Bablot won the Coupe des Voiturettes at Boulogne, followed by a victory at the Grand Prix de France at Le Mans in 1913. In 1914, Delage introduced their Type S Grand Prix model equipped with twin overhead camshafts, desmodromic valve operation, four valves per cylinder, and four-wheel brakes. Proving they could win on any continent, Rene Thomas and riding mechanic Robert Laly drove a Delage to victory in the Indianapolis 500.
During World War I, Delage excepted a lucrative contract to manufacture munitions, after which they resumed road car production in 1918 with its four-wheel-braked CO model. They focused their engineering talents on building cars for the road, and would not return to serious competition for another five years. In 1923, they introduced the 2 LCV Grand Prix car equipped with a 2-liter, four-cam V-12 engine designed by Delage's cousin Charles Planchon. The 2 LCV GP made its racing debut at the French Grand Prix in 1923, however, its true competitive form arrived in 1925 with the addition of a supercharger, helping it win at Montlhéry and at San Sebastian.1926 Grand Prix
Grand Prix racing regulations for the 1926 season dictated a maximum engine capacity of 1,500 cubic centimeters, either supercharged or un-supercharged, and a minimum car weight of 600 kilograms. Albert Lory was tasked with designing the new Grand Prix racer, which was eventually dubbed the 15-S-8 when it made its race debut at that year's European Grand Prix at San Sebastian. It used a chassis, transmission, and braking system to that of its predecessor, the 2 LCV, and powered by a new 1.5-liter straight-eight engine with a two-stage Roots-type supercharger, nickel-chromium crankshaft, nine roller bearings, and gear-driven twin-cam valve operations. It developed 170 horsepower at a remarkable 8,000 RPM.
1927 Grand Prix
The car was competitive but not without fault. Among the early Achilles Heel was its driver's side-mounted exhaust which added excessive heat and poor ventilation. A temporary solution was to have drivers share driving duties. Bourlier and Senechal finished second at San Sebastien, with Senechal and Wagner doing the same en route to victory at the RAC Grand Prix at Brooklands.
Delage constructed four Works examples to contest the 1927 Grand Prix season, utilizing many components from the 1926 cars. The engines were shifted four inches to the left, allowing for the driver's seating position to be lowered, and the troublesome exhaust system was relocated.
The Delage 15-S-8 and Robert Benoist were a dominant combination, winning all four European-based Grand Prix and securing the World Manufacturers' Championship. Throughout the season, all four 15-S-8 chassis were driven to podium finishes.Chassis Number 4
Among the accolades earned by chassis number 4 during the 1927 season was a third-place finish, driven by André Morel, at the Grand Prix de l'ACF at Montlhéry, giving Delage a 1-2-3 sweep at the race. It retired early at the Spaid Grand Prix before securing another 3rd at the British Grand Prix at Brooklands by Albert Divo.
Chassis 4 was sold to Louis Chiron around 1928, and he drove it to a 7th place finish in the 1929 Indianapolis 500. Upon returning to Europe, the car was sold to Robert Senechal, who placed 6th in the French Grand Prix in 1930. During the 1931 season, he finished 9th at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza and 5th at the French Grand Prix before selling the Delage in the winter of 1931 to Earl Howe. At the time, Mr. Howe also owned another 15-S-8, chassis number 3, which he later crashed in 1932 at Monza. Howe used 15-S-8 regularly on continental events, achieving a Voiturette class victory at the 1933 Eifelrennen at the Nürburgring, a 2nd at the 1935 Grand Prix d'Albi, and 3rd-place finishes in the 1933 Avusrennen and 1935 Prix de Berne, amongst other appearances.
Richard Seaman became the car's next caretaker in 1936, who quickly entrusted Giulio Ramponi to perform further development. The braking system was converted to hydraulic brakes and weight was reduced as much as possible. Seaman was very successful during the 1936 Voiturette season, taking victories at Donington, the Isle of Man, Pescara, and Berne. His accomplishments in the Delage were noticed by Mercedes-Benz Team Manager Alfred Neubauer, who signed him for the 1937 season. Without a need for chassis 4, it was sold to noted racing team owner HRH Prince Chula.
After World War II, chassis number 2 and 4 were acquired by Reg Parnell. He would eventually re-assemble three complete cars, mixing and matching components, and using a pile of original spares. He had two original 1927 rigid front axle chassis and two additional chassis which had been commissioned by Prince Bira's mentor and cousin, Prince Chula. Parnell had acquired engine number 3, from Howe's crashed Monza car, and much of this engine including its crankcase were installed into chassis 4. In this guise, chassis 4 was sold in 1946 to David Hampshire who raced it in that year's Grand Prix d'Albi and the Grand Prix des Nations in Geneva.
The car's next owner was Rob Walker who acquired it in 1950 and retained it for over three decades. In 1968, the car's original body and firewall were destroyed in a garage fire, and these components were later rebuilt by Mr. Walker's mechanic John Chrisman. Walker's final public appearance with chassis 4 was at the 1984 Nice Grand Prix retrospective event, whereupon it joined the collection of Serge Pozzoli.
After Pozzoli passed away, the car was sold to a Brazilian collector and historic racer who commissioned Auto Restorations of Christchurch, New Zealand to carry out an exacting restoration of the car to 1936 specification, which included recreating its five-speed gearbox. Further engineering and race preparation work was performed by Auto Restorations after it was purchased by Peter Giddings in 2012.By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2021