Delage D8S – 1931

Louis Delage was born two decades before the first automobile wheel turned in anger, but from 1910 this gifted engineer’s cars were winning glory on the track a process culminating in a world land-speed record in 1923 and victory in every major Grand Prix race of 1927.

Naturally, track success was seen as a powerful incentive for discerning customers to purchase road cars, and Deluge duly specialized in luxury saloons, tourers and roadsters for a rich clientele.

This policy led to the introduction of various evolutionary models throughout the 1920s, but it was not until the D8 model of 1929 that the company’s cars really came of age, with the introduction of a superb eight-cylinder engine that replaced the earlier straight-six power plants.

This led on the Delage D8S, considered by many to be the most attractive French car made in the 1930s. It’s easy to see why. A principal delight of the D8S is that top-flight coachbuilders like Chapron, Pourtout, Figoni, Fernandez & Darrin, Freestone & Webb, Letoumeur & Marchand, Labourdette and Vanden Plas all applied their skills to cladding tills low-slung beauty, ensuring a huge variety of mouthwatering styles, all with huge headlamps. There are saloons, sports coupes, tourers, cabriolets and roadsters to savor. But they’re rare, with just 99 made in two years; though more D8SS models did follow and this lightweight machine was both nimble and sporty.

Is the Delage D8S a bit special? It looks that way. At least two people obviously think so – a spirited bidding war pushed the hammer price of a stunning white sports coupe to $3.4 million in 2007. This delightful roadster was originally shown at the Paris Motor Show in 1932, and obviously gave somebody a pretty serious attack of must-drive fever!

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

France

FIRST MANUFACTURED:

1931 (until 1933)

ENGINE:

4,050 CC OHV Straight Eight

Performance:

An average speed of over 110 mph (175 km/h) was achieved by a lightweight model in a 24-hour endurance test in 1932. The 0-60 mph (97 km/h) time was 15 secs.

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

The Great Depression took its toll on many a specialist luxury car manufacturer and Delage folded in 1935, though the name lived on until 1953 on a Delage model made by the Delahaye company.

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