Lot 444: 1929 Delage DMS Roadster
“Louis Delage created an important part of the tradition and heritage of the automotive golden age in France. Delage cars have all that is meant by ‘la belle voiture français,’ together with Bugattis, Hispano-Suiza and, later, Talbot-Lago, which inspired France’s coachbuilders to produce moving works of art.” – William Stobbs, Les Grandes Routières
Founded in Levallois, France in 1905 by Louis Delage, the company commenced production with a single-cylinder De Dion-engined runabout and within a few years was offering multi-cylinder designs. The publicity value of racing was recognised right from the start, a single-cylinder Delage winning the Coupe Des Voiturettes as early as 1908 and Louis himself taking the 1911 Coupe de l’Auto in a 3.0-liter four-cylinder. Victories at the Grand Prix du Mans and the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race were achieved prior to WWI, the company going on to become a major force in Grand Prix racing in the 1920s and setting a new World Land Speed Record mark in 1924 with a 10.7-liter overhead-valve V12.
“Delage have to their credit many world’s records, including a world’s championship, and more awards at the principal Concours d’Elegance than any other car in the world… To these achievements Delage have added a third and greater. They have made the highest known degree of luxury and performance available at the price the average motorist can pay.” Delage’s publicity had every right to sing the praises of what, arguably, was the finest French car of its day.
Four-cylinder DI and six-cylinder DM cars formed the mainstay of touring car production in the 1920s, and then at the 1929 Paris Salon Delage launched the D8 model, a magnificent 4.0-liter straight eight destined to attract the creative attentions of Europe’s finest coachbuilders: Figoni (et Falaschi), Henri Chapron and Fernandes et Darrin to name but three.
Yet despite the unquestionable quality of its products and peerless competition record, Louis Delage’s company was ill prepared to face the economically troubled Depression years following the Wall Street Crash. Attempts to sell the firm to Peugeot and then Gnome et Rhône both failed, before its assets were purchased in 1935 by Walter Watney, who almost immediately sold them on to erstwhile rivals Delahaye. The Delage tradition of building fine quality Grandes Routières was continued by the company’s new owners, but with increasing Delahaye influence as time went on.
The car we offer here is an example of the Delage DM range’s sports model – the DMS. Derived from the DI and powered by a 3,181cc overhead-valve six, the Delage DM series was manufactured from 1926 to 1929, the two-seat (plus dickey) roadster offered here being a rare surviving example of the more powerful (75 as opposed to 62 horsepower) short-wheelbase DMS, a mere 340 of which were made.
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Bonhams & Butterfields, Quail Lodge Resort & Golf Club, Carmel, California
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