Page 1 of 1 From the very first car he built back in 1905, Louis Delage aspired to combine high quality and luxury with the racing derived running gear. In rapid succession new models were introduced with more powerful engine and more sophisticated chassis. In 1918 the Delage range was expanded with the 'CO' model. This was the first Delage production car to feature a six cylinder engine. Three years later the engine was reworked and the model name updated to CO2.
The earliest straight six engine was constructed in 1913 but development was slow as Delage supplied the French military during the Great War. In its original guise, the engine displaced just under 2.7 litre. By the time it hit production in 1918 the bore and stroke were increased to give a swept volume of 4.5 litre. On the CO the engine featured a single camshaft with side valves. The valve-train was upgraded to push-rod actuated overhead valves for the CO2 engine. The official output numbers for the two evolutions were 70 bhp and 85 bhp respectively. Considering the horsepower based French tax system, it is safe to say these ratings were very conservative. Figures in excess of 100 bhp for the more powerful variant are more realistic.
Mated to a four-speed gearbox, the six cylinder engine was mounted in a conventional ladder frame chassis. Suspension was by solid axles, semi-elliptic leaf springs and friction dampers on both ends. What set the CO and CO2 apart from their contemporaries was the use of drum brakes on all four wheels. Although regularly used on racing cars, in 1918 most other road cars featured brakes on the rear axles only. The six cylinder Delage was available in 3.43 metre and 3.675 metre versions. Built using the finest materials, the CO and subsequent CO2 could be delivered as a rolling chassis or complete cars with factory built bodies. These ranged from elegant 'Torpedos' to stately 'Landaulets'.
Despite being launched into a market recovering from a devastating war, the six cylinder Delages were built in considerable numbers. Although not quite as powerful as similar Hispano Suizas and Rolls-Royces, the CO and CO2 were also very highly regarded by the motoring presse. It is believed that close to 1400 examples of the CO were constructed before it was replaced by the CO2. When production stopped in 1923, another 200 CO2s had rolled off the line. Delage built another 80 of the sportier CO2 Grand Sport model. A real replacement of the CO2 was not built; the 1924 Delage range consisted of a modest four cylinder model and the 'Grand Luxe' powered by a 6-litre, single overhead camshaft straight six. Many were later scrapped for the large quantities of aluminium used throughout the cars. As a result only a handful have survived. Page 1 of 1