<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114

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Lot 95Ω
One of two known survivors
1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' COUPE
Coachwork designed by Letourneur et Marchand for Delage

Sold for US$ 649,000 inc. premium
1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe
Coachwork by designed by Letourneur et Marchand for Delage

Chassis no. 38186
Engine no. 114

4,050 cc OHV Inline 8-Cylinder Engine
118 bhp at 3,800rpm
4-Speed Manual transmission
Solid front axle and semi-elliptical leaf-springs, live rear axle, and semi-elliptical leaf-springs
4-Wheel Hydraulically-Actuated Drum Brakes.

*One of two known survivors
*Original Delage factory chassis with S-type specification
*Modified to the rare "100" specification
*Exquisite coachwork with stunningly beautiful proportions
*Fresh from restoration and yet to be shown in U.S.


THE 8-CYLINDER DELAGE

In the early 1930s, the eight-cylinder Delage D8 was the only French car which could be mentioned in the same breath as the six-cylinder 32CV Hispano-Suiza in terms of elegance and engineering excellence. Founded in 1905 by Louis Delâge, the company had commenced production with a single-cylinder De Dion-engined runabout, and within a few years was offering multi-cylinder designs. Delage began racing right from the start. A single-cylinder model won the Coupe Des Voiturettes as early as 1908, and Louis himself took the 1911 Coupe de l'Auto in a 3 liter four-cylinder. Victories at the Grand Prix du Mans and the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race were achieved prior to WWI, and the company went on to become a major force in Grand Prix racing in the 1920s, setting a new World Land Speed Record in 1924 with a 10.7 liter V-12.

Four-cylinder DI and six-cylinder DM models formed the mainstay of touring car production in the 1920s. By then, the Delage factory in Courbevoie was the most modern in the French industry, equipped with the finest tools that money could buy. In 1929, Delage launched its crowning engineering achievement, the D8 model designed by Maurice Gaultier. This new chassis was the sensation of the Paris Salon with its smooth and silent 4.1 liter overhead-valve straight-eight engine and a strong X-braced structure with servo-assisted braking.

The impressive list of D8 owners was promoted by the factory as "experienced and justifiably demanding clients, men of industry and of the world, businessmen and elegant women" and included King Gustav V of Sweden, King Alexander of Yugoslavia, and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, as well as leading businessmen and politicians. The most glamorous film and cabaret stars of the day such as Betty Spell and Josephine Baker often added sex appeal whenever a D8 was shown at the major concours d'élegance where prizes were often won.

The standard D8 engine developed 102 bhp using a single carburetor, but for the sporting enthusiast, the 118 bhp D8 S model was available, adding both power and torque to the mix. In England, a special "Super-Sports 100" dealer-fitted option was available, consisting of four SU carburetors – so named because the retrofit put the Delage D8 S chassis into the exclusive club of automobiles capable of achieving 100 mph. Chassis 38186 is fitted with this rare option.

THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

The 130 inch wheelbase D8 chassis was destined to attract the creative attentions of Europe's finest coachbuilders. As William Stobbs has written in his book Les Grandes Routières, "This thoroughbred of engineering was given outstanding coachwork by Chapron, Figoni, Letourneur et Marchand, Saoutchik, Labourdette, Vanden Plas, Freestone & Webb, Barker, Pourtout, Fernandez & Darrin...."

Yet while the great coachbuilders did their very best to out-perform one another, the factory coachwork was no less attractive. In 1932, Delage commissioned the famous carrossier Letourneur et Marchand to develop a small series of new and exciting bodies that could be offered to clients as catalogue customs, thereby ensuring quicker delivery. In short order, Letourneur came up with a torpedo roadster as well as two versions of a rakish coupé-like design that in typical French fashion was termed a conduite intérieure, what the English would call an owner-driver. One of these styles had enveloping front and rear fenders, a sloping rear deck and a step plate, while the other more classical conduite intérieure design featured full running boards, a semi-integrated trunk for a bustleback effect and a prominent rear mounted spare in the continental style.

There was little superfluous ornamentation on these quintessentially French bodies, and correct and beautiful proportion was everything. D8 S chassis 38186 was bodied to the bustleback style and featured a low rounded coupé greenhouse coupled with a hood of seemingly unending length, a narrow vertical windshield, and gorgeous sweeping fenderlines. One superb detail was the glass-covered rear license plate, sandwiched into the body between the top of the trunk and the rear window: simple, elegant, and functional at the same time.

Mounted on the powerful D8 S chassis, the conduite intérieure was a potent long-distance touring car with impressive appeal. But in 1933, the Great Depression still held France in an iron grip, and only four of these magnificent cars were completed, all with detail differences. A mere two survive. The bodies were either built by the Letourneur et Marchand subsidiary Autobineau or at the Delage factory. The bare chassis sold for a hefty 72,000 francs, while the fashionable bustleback body added another 21,000 for a total of 93,000 francs for a complete car. As Louis Delâge had dreamed for many years, Delage was indeed entering Hispano-Suiza territory in terms of beauty, mechanical prowess ̶ and price.

Chassis 38186 was finished in 1933. In October 1934, a light colored D8 S conduite intérieure was displayed prominently on the Delage stand at the Paris Salon, and based on a comparison of surviving period images, it is believed that chassis 38186 may well have been the actual Salon car. In 1936, a D8 S conduite intérieure featured in the French film Prends la route, which is also likely to be chassis 38186. The film which also included a Grand Prix Bugatti, was a musical comedy by Jean Boyer where the young hero, on his way to his own arranged marriage, falls in love with a woman who after multiple misunderstandings turns out to be the one he was supposed to marry in the first place. At least the film compensated for its rickety plot by showcasing a beautiful Delage D8 S.

Little is documented of the early life of 38186. The car was found in the mid-1950s in southern France by a certain Mr. Retornaz who registered the car in Marseille. Retornaz used 38186 for some years, but lost interest for reasons unknown and laid the car up in his garage. There, it remained forgotten until 1999 when it was discovered by Charles Howard, the famed classic-car-dealer-at-large who had unearthed many of the world's most fantastic automobiles over the years. In his book An Auto Biography, Howard describes the condition of 38186 as "virtually untouched original". When found it sported a Chromos style bumper, which coincidentally the car in the French movie can also be seen to wear. Not long after, he sold the car to another classic car dealer in Madrid, who fell so much in love with the car that he decided to keep it and completed a restoration in a green and yellow color scheme. About five years ago, 38186 was acquired by the present owner, who re-restored the car to its present stunning black livery.

Today, resting on its long 130 inch wheelbase, 38186 has lost none of the captivating elegance with which its design wowed the crowds at the Paris Salon. From any angle, the low bodywork with its narrow windows and subtle curves exudes the presence, balance, and sophistication of line that French coachwork is so justly famous for. The eight-cylinder engine is the most powerful version of the D8 S that was available, and as the coachwork is not overly heavy, the car remains easy to drive, and performance does not suffer. It is a car that will be welcomed at quality concours and road events alike. Coupled with its great originality and authenticity, this D8 S 100 conduite intérieure indeed presents a seldom seen opportunity for a collector of rare French automobiles.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that the terminology for the four carburetor specifications that the car was uprated to is 'SS' and not 100 as catalogued. Also, the roofline of the car was lowered approximately 1.5 inches during its restoration, in all other respects the bodywork remains original. Also note, the title for this vehicle is in transit.
Contacts
<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114
<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114
<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114
<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114
<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114
<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114
<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114
<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114
<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114
<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114
<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114
<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114
<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114
<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114
<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114
<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114
<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114
<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114
<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114
<b>1933 Delage D8S 'Conduite Interieur' Coupe</b><br />Chassis no. 38186<br />Engine no. 114
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