Delage - I

The Delage coupe pictured in the March issue was built in 1937 using some Delahaye 135 components in its construction and was fitted with an Albert Lory-designed V12 power-plant that was entirely separate to the unit fitted in the V12 Type 145 Delahaye. How the two different V12s came to be developed simultaneously whilst matters Deluge were effectively under the control of the directors of Delahaye I cannot imagine — it would be interesting to learn. The coachwork was executed by Jean-Henri Labourdette in accordance with the principles of the aerodynamicist Andreau, and also employed the newly-fashionable “Vutotal” system of a cantilevered roof with no “A” or “B” pillars and the screen and side glass bolted directly to the bodywork. Louis Delage entered the vehicle for the 1937 Grand Prix de l’ACF to be run as a sportscar event at Montlhery, but unfortunately the nominated driver, Fretet, experienced brake failure with the car and suffered a minor accident, causing the entry to be withdrawn.

After repair, the car was exhibited at the 1937 Paris Salon in October, together with a superficially similar Letourneur et Marchand car, also of “Vutotal” design, and featuring a virtually identical tail-fin suggesting Andreau involvement. The Labourdette body was subsequently removed and replaced with an open competition hood, and in this form the car was involved in the tragic accident during the 1938 JCC International Trophy Race at Brooklands which cost the life of a spectator and Murray Jamieson, as described on pp 319-320 of “The History of Brooklands Motor Course 19064944)”. The wreck was rebuilt in open competition guise once more and competed in Belgium immediately post-war. Soon after, the V12 was removed to be supplanted by a diesel installation, but I have not established the fate of either chassis or motor.

Clive Watson