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D8-120 S Pourtout Aero Coupe
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  Delage D8-120 S Pourtout Aero Coupe
 

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Country of origin:France
Produced from:1937 - 1939
Numbers built:66 (all versions)
Introduced at:1937 Paris Auto Salon
Designed by:Georges Paulin for Pourtout
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:August 29, 2005
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Click here to download printer friendly versionOne of French motoring's most flamboyant figures, Louis Delage catered almost exclusively to the ever dwindling niche market of the super rich. Especially during the early 1930s, Delage increasingly struggled to find customers for his beautifully engineered but very expensive machines. The almost inevitable bankruptcy was filed in 1935. Rival Delahaye eventually stepped up and acquired the company's assets. Production of Delage vehicles resumed shortly after.

Delage enthusiasts feared that under the new ownership the famous oval badge would simply be stuck to existing Delahaye products. This was certainly the case for the new range of six cylinder models launched in 1935. Fortunately the Delahaye executives recognised the beauty and quality of Delage's own eight cylinder engine. For the D8-100 and D8-120 models that followed in 1936 a new, Delage exclusive eight cylinder engine was developed. These top-of-the-range machines did employ a Delahaye sourced chassis.

Using Delahaye's proven straight six racing engine as a basis, engineer Jean Francois created a new straight eight. Displacing just over 4.3 litre, it was fitted with overhead valves and a single carburettor. It produced around 105 bhp, which matched Delage's original D8 engine introduced at the turn of the decade. Another Delahaye influence was the use of the semi-automatic Cotal gearbox with four forward gears.

Delahaye also supplied the wholly conventional steel ladder-frame chassis. It was suspended by wishbones and a transverse leaf spring at the front, while the rear end consisted of a live axle with longitudinal leaf springs. Of the two models, the D8-100 featured a slightly longer wheelbase; 3400 mm (later 3630 mm) compared to the 3350 mm of the D8-120. Hydraulic drum brakes were fitted all around.

Just like most luxury cars of the day, the new D8 was available as a rolling chassis only. The customer could then have the car clothed by his (or her) coach-builder of choice. Chapron was the natural pick for a more understated design, while the likes of Pourtout and Letourneur & Marchand provided the more extravagant bodies. Surprisingly few D8s were sent to Figoni & Falaschi for their metalwork.

In 1938 the D8 range was extended with the D8-120 S and the D8-100 B. These featured a 4.7 litre version of the straight eight, which produced around 120 bhp in the D8-120 S. Around 100 examples in total were built by the time the War broke out. Delage production did resume but in 1946 only the Delahaye based D6 models were offered.

Even Louis Delage himself bought a D8-120 S and today the final D8 variants are generally considered to be among Delage's finest products. This is also partly due to the artistic highs achieved by the coach-builders and their designers. Particularly the creations Pourtout and Letourneur & Marchand for the luxurious Delage remain as pure works of art.

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