Historic Car Brands
Many early car makers who loved racing drove their own brand vehicles, but Louis Delage probably couldn’t do that competitively, because he lost the sight of one eye as an infant. However, that one-eyed focus helped him make some of the most outstanding racing and touring cars of the 1920s and 1930s.
It all started for Louis Delage in 1905, when he borrowed 35,000 francs and set up a small factory, making parts for established car makers. A year later he released his first Delage-branded models powered by De Dion-Bouton, single-cylinder, 4.5hp and 9hp engines. At the same time, he began the company’s racing career, with two 9hp entries in the Coupe de Voiturettes at Rambouillet, scoring a second place and a DNF.
Next year was devoted to establishing larger production facility, before the triumph of 1908, with a victory for Delage’s single-cylinder, 1.3-litre, 28hp entry in the Grand Prix des Voiturettes. The three-car Delage team also took home the regularity prize.
1914 Delage Type S – ABC
The racing success put Delage on the buying map – ‘race on Sunday; sell on Monday’ – and the company sold 300 cars in 1908.
Delage began producing four-cylinder 1.5-litre cars in 1909 and by 1912 was producing 1000 four- and six-cylinder, 2.6-litre side-valve cars per annum.
During World War I Delage produced a limited number of military-service vehicles and munitions.
1914 Delage Type S – ABC
After the War, Delage moved from small to larger cars, powered by the CO-model’s 20hp, 4.5-litre side-valve six; the DO’s three-litre four and the two-litre, four-cylinder DE and DI models.
The 30hp GL was aimed directly at Hispano-Suiza, but at less than half the price, powered by a six-litre, overhead-camshaft six. Other sixes of this period were the 3.2-litre MD and the 2.5-litre DR that became the top-selling Delage model.
1930 Delage D8C ‘Lalique’ – Murgatroyd49
In 1922 the CO became the CO2, powered by an 88hp, overhead-valve, twin-plug version of the 4.5-litre engine. The Co2 completed the Paris-Nice drive in 16 hours, at an average speed of 67km/h.
In 1923 the DI adopted overhead valves and a racing version with triple Zenith carburettors scored hillclimb victories at La Turbie and Mont Ventoux.
Somehow, an 11-litre, twin-cam Delage V12 was shoehorned into this chassis and set a hillclimb record at Gaillon, before braking the land speed record, with a timed run of 230.52km/h.
1925 Delage 2LCV engine – LarryStevens
Also, the racing 2LCV model, powered by a two-litre V12, won the 1924 European Grand Prix in Lyon and the 1925 Grand Prix of ACF Montlhery. This four-cam engine put out 110hp at launch and 195hp by 1925, thanks to supercharging.
The small V12 gave way to a 170hp, supercharged straight-eight, 1.5-litre, twin-cam racing engine in the 15S8 of 1926 – the last Delage GP car. It won four GPs in 1927 and the Car Builders’ Word Championship.
1927 Delage straight-eight racing engine – Larry Stevens
Another variation of the six-litre six, with twin-overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder broke the Mont Ventoux course record on debut.
In 1925 came the DIS and DISS models that became the Series 6 in 1927, adding coil ignition (in place of magneto) and water pump (in lieu of thermo-syphon) cooling.
The 3.2-litre overhead-valve six DM arrived in 1926, followed by the performance DMS version. Delage also produced side-valve engined models, in the the 2.2-litre and 2.5-litre DRs.
1929 Delage 15-S8 1.5-litre straight-eight supercharged – Brooklands Museum
A Delage 155B won the first Grand Prix of Britain in 1926.
In 1930, Delage launched the six-cylinder D6 and the straight-eight, four-litre D8 models. The D8 and D8S models were top-of-the range vehicles, capable of speeds up to 160km/h.
Delage D8-120 – Simon Davison
The Great Depression killed off luxury car sales, so Delage countered with downsized with D6-11, two-litre and D8-15, 2.8-litre engines. These models featured transverse-leaf independent front suspension that was licensed the Studebaker. A bottom-range, 1.5-litre four was also available.
Financial disaster loomed, forcing the company into voluntary liquidation, in 1935. However, Louis Delage soldiered on, marketing Delage-branded cars that were produced by Delahaye.
1935 Delage D8 105S – Buch T
After Word War II, Delage-branded D6 and D8 models, produced by Delahaye were available, but Louis Delage died in poverty in 1947. Sales of Delahaye and Delage cars faded away and in 1953, production of both brands ended, and the names were acquired by Hotchkiss in 1954.