1924 Delage 2LCV

1924 Delage 2LCV 1924 Delage 2LCV 1924 Delage 2LCV The Delage 2LCV is arguably the first modern Grand Prix car due to its agile handling and powerful V12 engine, built by Charles Planchon. Louis Delage released the 2-liter 2LCV in 1923; it debuted at the French Grand Prix on July 2 of that year, impressing both Ettore Bugatti and Enzo Ferrari. Albert Lory redesigned the 2LCV chassis and engine for the 1924 Grand Prix season and, after much testing, four cars were finished in time to race. At the French Grand Prix at Lyon, these revised Delage 2LCVs finished second, third, and sixth behind the winning Alfa Romeo P2 of Giuseppe Campari.

This car, chassis number three, was built in 1924 and raced that year by Rene Thomas. It has remained in 1924 specification and has never been upgraded with the supercharger.

After the car's racing career came to a close, it disappeared for a number of years, eventually being found in South America. American Bob Sutherland purchased it in the late 1990s and returned it to Europe. While there, it was given a five-year restoration.
The French-based Delage Company was founded in 1905 by Louis Delage. The company was based in Levallois-Perret near Paris. Production would continue until 1953, though it was acquired by Delahaye in 1935.

By 1910, sales had increased enough that a new facility was needed. The company moved to 138 Boulevard de Verdun, Courbevoie. By 1912, 350 workers were creating over 1000 cars each year, powered by both four- and six-cylinder side-valve engines.

The company had a history of proving their product through racing, and by 1912 they moved up to Grand Prix racing, with a Leon Michelat-designed car powered by a four-valve 6235cc four-cylinder engine developing 1180 horsepower. The car had a five-speed gearbox and a 43 imperial-gallon fuel tank. Three cars were built for the Amiens grand Prix though only two examples were entered. At the conclusion of the race, it was the Delage driven by Bablot that finished fourth. Fifth place went to the other Delage driven by Guyot, who was actually in the lead when it suffered a puncture leaving first to Peugeot. At the French Grand Prix, Bablot finished first followed by Guyot. Next came a Mercedes GP car driven by Pilette followed by Salzer in a Mercedes. Fifth place went to the other Delage driven by Duray.

When World War I broke out, the Delage Company supported the war effort by making munitions. Though Louis Delage was passionate about racing, in the post-War destruction, motor racing was not that high of a priority. After the War, the company moved away from small car production to focus on larger cars. The first of such cars was the CO with a fixed-head side-valve six-cylinder engine, later joined by the DO with a 3-liter four.

The hunger for victory could be subdued for a period of time. At the persistence of Rene Thomas (one of their star drivers), Louis Delage made the decision to return to racing. Instead of returning to Grand Prix competition, they built a one-off special for Thomas which did very well in hill-climb competition, breaking several world records.

In 1923, the international motorsport's governing body announced new racing regulations. Delage instructed Charles Planchon (Delage's cousin and the head of the company's design department) to design a new Grand Prix car to comply with the new rules. The result of their work was the 2LCV, which was prepared in time for the French Grand Prix at Tours. The team had done this in just three months - designing and creating a new and complicated engine that displaced just under two liters with twin overhead camshafts. The new engine was fitted into a conventional ladder frame chassis with live axles in both the front and rear with double friction dampers. The nearly 100 horsepower produced by the engine was sent to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual gearbox.

The one 2LCV produced in time for the French Grand Prix was entrusted to Rene Thomas. The extremely short schedule and lack of time to properly test and tune the car was met with predictable results. After just six laps of the race, the car broke down. The outcome was both disappointing and embarrassing. Planchon was blamed and replaced by Albert Lory.

Where Planchon was pressed for time, Lory had a reasonable amount of time to improve and perfect the vehicle. Lory modified the engine by moving the intakes to the outside and allowing the exhaust to exit in between the banks. Two additional oil pumpers were added to the lubrication system and several other changes were made to enhance the engine's performance and durability. The result of the work was an improvement of horsepower to 120 BHP. With proper time to test and tune, the 2lCV was ready for the next edition of the French Grand Prix.

The upgraded 2LCV was joined by three more 2LCV models for the 1924 European Grand Prix at Lyon. An Alfa Romeo P2 would finish in first, followed by a pair of 2LCV's. This impressive outing was followed by a third and fourth at the San Sebastian Grand Prix in late 1924.

The supercharged Alfa Romeo P2 inspired Lory to update the 2LCV with a supercharger system of its own. The setup had two Roots-Type Superchargers that enabled the engine to produce just over 200 horsepower. This new iteration of the 2LCV made its debut at the 1925 Spa Grand Prix. The power and performance may have been impressive, but the reliability left much to desire. All four entries were forced to retire. With the lessons learned, and further modifications and improvements made, the team entered the French Grand Prix at Monthlery with high hopes and expectations. This time, the 2LCV was victorious, and finished in first and second place.

For the 1926 season, new rules to the two-liter formula left the 2LCV obsolete. Displacement size was limited to just 1.5 liters. Lory was sent back to the drawing board, where he came up with the Delage 15 S8, which would result in a World Championship for Delage.

In total, five examples of the 2LCV were created during the three seasons of racing. It was constantly improved upon and it helped score important victories for Delage. More importantly, it paved the future for the Delage Company and helped them with the 1927 championship winning season.
By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2012

1924 Delage 2LCV Vehicle Profiles

1924 Delage 2LCV vehicle information

Chassis #: 3

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