One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide,1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer  Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163

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Lot 257
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide, 1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer
Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163

AU$ 240,000 - 300,000
US$ 170,000 - 220,000
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide
1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer
Chassis no. 12868
Engine no. 163
'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 - France's Classic Grand Tourers.
Founded in 1905 by Louis Delage in collaboration with Augustin Legros, a fellow engineer-graduate of an Arts et Métiers college, Automobiles Delage 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-litre 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-litre overhead-valve V12. Delage's publicity had every right to sing the praises of what - arguably - was the finest French car of its day: '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.'

The manufacture of munitions during The Great War increased Louis Delage's personal fortune greatly, but when peace returned his company's first all-new offering – the six-cylinder CO – got off to a sluggish start. First seen at the Paris Salon in 1919, the CO in its initial form was powered by a 4,524cc sidevalve engine developing 65 horsepower. Sales were disappointing, so in 1922 the CO's engine was modernised with pushrod-operated overhead-valves, a cross-flowed cylinder head, upping power output to around 88bhp, although it seems likely that this claimed power output may have aired on the side of caution for tax reasons. This ample power was delivered to the rear wheels via very robust a four-speed gearbox, while the highly regarded contemporary Hispano Suiza relied on a 3 speed gearbox. The CO2, as it became known, featured a conventional ladder frame of 3,430mm wheelbase with suspension by semi-elliptic leaf springs and friction dampers all round. Like the CO, the CO2 had brakes on all four wheels, an advanced feature at that time.

Sadly, the CO2 was unable to rid itself of the CO's lacklustre reputation and, while records are a little hard to find it is suggested that only 200-or-so (plus a further 80 CO2 Grand Sports) were constructed in the period 1922-1923. Unfortunately only a handful has survived to the present day, many having been scrapped for their high aluminium content. Stobbs again: 'The ohv CO2 is a splendid, heroic vehicle; the public, as is so often the case, were wrong...'

A number of these superb Delage cars made their way to Australia via the local agents Joubert and Joubert. Perhaps the best known of the CO2s in Australia was the car owned by Owen Platt Hepworth a founder member of the VSCCA. In a recent edition of The Vintage Car it is noted that OPH's CO2 was used in numerous competition events and more often than not was able to outperform Vauxhall 30-98s, WO Bentleys and Bugatti Type 37s. Indeed a member of the Bonhams Australia motoring team was allowed the pleasure of a drive of the particular example offered for sale here, and given plenty of experience with Vauxhall 30-98s can happily confirm that the performance certainly matches that of any 30-98 he has driven - the only noted difference being that the brakes on the CO2 are 'considerably more effective!' Also of note is that a CO2 Delage broke the Sydney to Melbourne record on Thursday the 15th February 1923 in a time of 13 hours and 47 minutes – impressive when even on today's tarmac freeway the journey takes in the region of nine hours.

The current owner of this example has previously restored another example, chassis '12034', which has since been sold to Europe and continues to participate in rallies and events and has been photographed as such high profile events as the Concorso D'Eleganza Villa D'Este. This particular example has been superbly restored over a period of over 2 years by the Delage Garage in Melbourne and features a triple carburettor set up with a custom designed inlet manifold allowing superb breathing through the cross-flowed cylinder head. Power output is thought to be in excess of 100bhp.

This particular example, with its lightweight sports tourer coachwork and well-tuned motor, would be ideal for long rallies, concours events and even competitive motorsport, indeed the French may not be to averse to the idea of one of these French sporting cars competing at the splendid Le Mans Classic event. It is, as they say, 'on the button'.

The Delage CO2 is an often overlooked contemporary of the Hispano-Suiza H6, Vauxhall 30-98, etc and offers outstanding performance and driving characteristics thanks to its powerful engine. The quality of these fine cars is perhaps best described by Bill Boddy when bestowing the virtues of the CO2 Delage in the July, 1948 Edition of Motor Sport he concludes his article by stating 'So, among the great cars of the past, let us not forget this masterpiece of Monsieur Delage.'
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide,1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer  Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide,1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer  Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide,1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer  Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide,1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer  Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide,1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer  Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide,1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer  Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide,1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer  Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide,1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer  Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide,1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer  Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide,1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer  Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide,1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer  Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide,1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer  Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide,1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer  Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide,1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer  Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide,1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer  Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide,1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer  Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide,1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer  Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide,1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer  Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163
One of fewer than ten examples known to have survived worldwide,1922 Delage CO2 4½-litre Six Cylinder OHV Dual Cowl Tourer  Chassis no. 12868 Engine no. 163
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