OF FRENCH VINTAGE

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OF FRENCH VINTAGE SOME OBSERVATIONS RELATING TO THE DISS DELAGE AND AM80 HOTCHKISS CARS JwArrEN was with the old London and Parisian Motor Co., in the ° capacity of works manager, until 1934. He started with this famous firm, which introduced the Delage and Hotchkiss marques to this country, in 1916. When the concern closed down he started up in business on his own account, and now runs a Delage and Hotchkiss service and repair shop at 55, Wandle Road, near Trinity Road tube station, London, S.W.17 (‘phone: Bat. 7076). Watten naturally knows the Delage and Hotchkiss models very thoroughly indeed, and. so does his assistants. Moreover, he has a very fme set of metric tools and a unique brake-relining plant. To watch him working on one or other of these makes is to appreciate a first-class engineer at work on a job with which he is absolutely familiar. During a recent visit we gleaned some interesting facts about the 14/40 Delage models, which can now be obtained very cheaply secondhand, and which are of interest to those who seek an individualistic vintage car of high performance. In 1928 and 1924 Delage made the s.v. four-cylinder DE model, and the o.h.v. ” 14/40 “—the model Di—was made from 1925-28. The sports edition was the DISS model, made in 1926-7, followed in 1928 by the semisports DIS-type. The six-cylinder DM

and DMS cars followed. The fourcylinder ” 14/40″ was noted for excellent four-wheel-brakes, a nice four-speed gearbox Delage and a sound rear axle. It was notably fast for a push-rod 2-litre, and dependable into the bargain. MOToR SPORT tested this particular Delage in June 1927. The DISS model is capable of 80 m.p.h. or a bit more in standard trim when in good condition, and thus merits the consideration of the enthusiast. T. P. Breen, who is a friend of lArattens, has a beautifully re-conditioned example, which we hope to test in the near future. The Di model does about 65 m.p.h. and the performance of the later DIS model falls between this and that of the sports DISS-type. When buying a DISS Delage, first ascertain whether the starter is noisy. If so, trouble is likely to result from the internal gearing. London and Parisian replaced some 200 starters with dynamotors and it is desirable to purchase a car on which this conversion has already been made, as the cost is in the neighbourhood of L25. If the original Delage pistons are still in use, they should be replaced by appropriate Zephyr or Aero lite pistons. It is probable that the engine will be undesirably noisy, but L5 or so spent on new tappet-pins, rollers and guides will effect a cure. The single Zenith carburetter can hardly be improved upon. Braking inefficiency can be overcome by altering the position of the catnlevers on their segments. As the compression-ratio is already quite high there is little point in raising it. Indeed, hotting-up, involves a new balanced crankshaft, new rods, etc., ancras the speed is already 80 m.p.h. there is little point in undertaking such modifications for

ordinary purposes. If the car has 820 X 120 high pressure tyres, braking and road-holding can be vastly improved by changing to 775 x145 covers, which were used on the later examples. Watten’s own car is a Type AM80 3-litre Hotchkiss; saloon, which type came out in 1980. He was servicing another example when we called and, admiring its lines and build, we enquired, what it would do, expecting something In the sixties. We were surprised to learn that these six-cylinder push-rod cars do 75 to 78 m.p.h. with closed bodyviork, while possessing modern layout of the controls and functioning very silkily. The single Solex carburetter is quite satis factory. The engine is especially susceptible to post-polishing, but there is little point in raising the compressionratio, though this can be done. The engine runs cool and the fan should be removed during the winter. The smaller 2f litre car has extremely fine acceleration and does 70 to 75 m.p.h. Some idea of how cheaply a Hotchkiss can be acquired can be obtained if we mention that Watten has for sale a very smart 1984 21-litre chassis for £85, the body having been put on to another chassis. This car was crashed, but everything has been rebuilt. Incidentally, the 3-litre has plates on the valve cover carrying maintenance notes and the clean design is typically Continental—firing order is 1, 5, 3, 6, 2, 4. The later ” Paris-Nice ” Hotchkiss is now coming on to the second

hand market at attractive prices. It is 50 per cent, better all round than the standard 3-litre and it is capable of 90 to 95 m.p.h. Of the later Delage models, the sixcylinder DMS achieves about 85 m.p.h. and the straight-eight, type D8S, of which Watten services a very fine saloon, does 95 m.p.h. and still gives about 16 m.p.g. The standard straight-eight does 70 to 75 m.p.h. Perhaps sufficient has been written of these individualistic French marques to indicate that they are worthy

of the enthusiast. Their construction and maimer of running is that of the real motor-car.

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