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1937 Delage D6-3L

1937 Delage D6-3L 1937 Delage D6-3L 1937 Delage D6-3L Sold for $210,000 at 2007 Monterey Sports and Classic Car Auction.
Sold for $165,000 at 2009 Sports & Classics of Monterey.
From the beginning of the Delage & Cie Company, racing played an important role. A year after the company opened its doors, two of their cars were entered in the weeklong Coupe des Voiturettes de L'Auto. One of the cars crashed but the second emerged in second place behind a Sizaire et Naudin. In 1908 three single-cylinder Delages were entered in the Grand Prix de l'Automobile Club des Voiturettes at Dieppe. The finished in first, fifth and twelfth. The success on the racing circuit inspired sales for their production vehicles and soon Delage had to enlarge his factory.

In 1913 a team of Type Y cars powered by six-liter engines finished the Grand Prix de France at LeMans in first, second and fifth place. Two of them were taken by drivers Thomas and Guyot to the 1914 Indianapolis 500. Thomas won the race and Guyot finished in third. On some of the worlds greatest racing scenes, the Delages had proven victorious.

Following on this success and in preparation for the 1914 French Grand Prix, Delage commissioned his designer, Arthur-Leon Michelat, to create a double-overhead-cam four that displaced 4.4-liters. The engine was given vertical shaft drive for the camshafts and operated the valves desmodromically, without springs. Powered by the new engine, the Type S finished in eight place.

After the First World War, the Type S cars were purchased by Harry Harkness. Barney Oldfield drove the car at the 1916 Indy 500 and placed fifth. At various other circuits, the cars were met with varying results.

The Type S was followed by a series of six-cylinder sprint cars. A 10.7-liter V12 Type DH soon followed and set a new European speed record in March of 1927 and a new world's record of 143.31 mph in July.

During the mid-1920s Louis Delage aggressively competed in the European Grand Prix Championship which he eventually won. The racing program had been successful in Grand Prix competition, the Indy 500, and numerous other sporting events but it had cost the company dearly. It was too much for the Delage Company to afford, so at the close of the 1927 season, the racing program was abandoned. When the world entered the Great Depression, the writing was on the wall for the Delage Company. It entered into receivership in 1935 and was soon taken over by rival Delahaye. Under the new regime, the racing program was revived, with Delahaye 135 Speciale chassis powered by Michelat-designed six-cylinder 3-liter pushrod engines. In 1937 a D6-3L came in fourth at LeMans. A second place at LeMans was achieved in 1939. Another second place was achieved at LeMans in 1949.

This 1937 Delage D6-3L Grand Prix Race Car has chassis number G4331 and its early racing history is unknown. By the late 1970s it second racing career was embarked in Argentina when Luis 'Lucho' Clucellas purchased a bare chassis. The car was put together by Juan Rocha and clothed in aluminum by Hugo Galicio.

The Cotal electromagnetic preselector gearbox was built up by Rocha out of accumulated parts. The body was fashioned after the car driven by Gerard in the 1938 Tourist Trophy race. Visually, it is similar in many ways but different in others, such as the tail and the fenders which are more in style with a Bugatti. The car was never painted. The car was later sold to Michael Dellepiane who used it in competition for several years during the 1980s. In the early 1990s it was imported to the U.S. It was purchased by its present owner in 1998 who commissioned a restoration in the early 2000s. The car has participated in the Colorado Grand, the annual 1000-mile vintage rally, in 2005 and 2006, earning honors as 'Prime Motoring Fool.'

This vehicle was brought to the 2007 Monterey Sports & Classic Car Auction presented by RM Auctions, where it had an estimated value of $250,000 - $350,000. Though the bidding did not reach the estimated value, the lot was sold for a high bid of $210,000 including buyer's premium.

In 2009, this D6-3L Grand Prix Race Car was offered for sale at the Sports & Classics of Monterey auction in Monterey, California presented by RM Auctions. The car was estimated to sell for $175,000-$225,000. The lot was sold for the sum of $165,000 including buyer's premium.


By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2009
Louis Delage was born in 1874 in Cognac, south of France. His family had a modest income which allowed for him to attend and graduate from the Ecole des Arts et Metiers in Angers in 1893. He then moved to Paris and began working with the Turgan-Foy company. Later he accepted a position with Peugeot. He left soon after to start his own company. Louis Delage began designing and building cars in 1905 with Augustin Legros as his chief engineer. Legros had left Peugeot with Delage and stayed with the company until 1935. The company focused on building cars that were of high quality and reliability. Their first cars were produced in 1906, and called the Type A and B. The cars were powered by a single cylinder de Dion engines producing about 6-7 horsepower.

Louis Delage was a very ambitious man. He had a passion for racing and a competitive edge that led him to produce some of the greatest sports cars of the era. In 1906 he participated in the Coupe des Voiturettes and was awarded a second place finish. This accomplished fueled sales. In 1908 he had three cars entered in the Coupe des Voiturettes race where their achieved a fist place victory.

In 1909 Delage moved away from the de Dion engines and began using their own 4-cylinder engine. However, some of the models they produced did use engines produced by the famous engine supplier, Ballot.

Throughout the years, Delage had many successes in the racing arena. Sadly, it was not enough. In 1935, their fortunes change. The company closed due to bankruptcy and was bought by Walter Watney, the owner of used Delage car dealerships in Paris. A machine tool company purchased the main factory in Courdevoie. Delahaye, another famous automobile manufacture of the time, bought the rights to manufacture cars under the Delage name. The Delage models that followed were based on the six and eight-cylinder Delahayes, though many retained unique Delage qualities, styling, and abilities.

The Delage marque's first visit to the 24 Hours of LeMans was in 1923, the inaugural running of the event. Under Delahaye's care, a revisit to the event was planned for 1936. Delahaye realized the importance of racing and how it promotes brand recognition and wanted to continue the legacy of the Delage marque on the racing circuit. Monoposto racing was deemed to competitive and expensive as government backed teams were battling it out for ultimate supremacy. The idea to return to LeMans was approved, and Delahaye supplied Louis Delage with a chassis and three-liter engine. Delage outsourced the body to Joseph Figoni, a noted stylists and aerodynamicist who carefully clothed the capable rolling chassis in a wind-defiant body. It was given the name, D6-70 Speciale and expectations were high for the nimble machine. Unfortunately, the car would have to wait to prove its potential, as a strike across Europe cause the event to be postponed.

All was not a complete loss; the car was shown on the concours circuit where its elegant body impressed and amazed onlookers. It was brought to sprints races, hill climbs, and various other races where it enjoyed its intended purpose. It was driven in the Rallye Monte Carlo and Rallye Du Maroc before being brought to the June edition of the LeMans race. The car did well, finishing Fourth overall and First in Class.

After the race, the Figoni coupe body was removed and given a roadster body with coachwork by Figoni & Falaschi. The racing pedigree for the machine continued, acquiring a victory in the 1938 Tourist Trophy. The success at this venue inspired the creation of two similar cars. Much attention was given to reducing the vehicles weight as much as possible. They were given lightweight chassis and other improvements and brought to the LeMan where they were driven to a Second place finish, and First in Class.

The outbreak of World War II brought the program to a temporary close, which resumed when peace was re-establish. Five more cars, based on the successful LeMan entries, were commissioned. The cars were given three-liter engines that now produced just over 140 horsepower. Cycle-fendered bodies, that were both lightweight and attractive, were fitted and completed the ensemble. The cars were driven with some success beginning in 1946. In 1949, four cars were brought to LeMans. Again, the cars did rather well by securing a second and fourth finish overall, and First and Second in Class. A Ferrari 166MM emerged the victor. A year later, a Delage finish in seventh overall. By now, it was showing its age and being outclassed by the competition. Its glory days were coming to a close. The Delahaye marque was facing other challenges which prohibited an updated racer from being constructed. Bankruptcy concerns and the demise of the company were Delahaye's main focus. The company managed to stay afloat for a couple of years, finally closing its doors in 1953 and bringing production to a halt.


By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2007

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