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  Article Image gallery (39) Chassis (2) Specifications  
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Country of origin:France
Produced in:1946
Numbers built:5 (880001 - 880005)
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:January 30, 2014
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Click here to download printer friendly versionNot long after the automobile was introduced, drivers discovered the fun of racing their horse-less carriages. For manufacturers it was a particularly powerful marketing tool; a customer could buy Sunday's race winner in the showroom on Monday. Louis Delage understood this concept very well and shortly after establishing his company in 1905, he started racing his cars. Within a year his De Dion powered 'voiturettes' were racking up great results in French races like the 1906 Coupe de Voiturettes.

Over the next years the racing cars grew in performance and complexity. All of this work culminated in the legendary 15 S8, which debuted in 1926. As its name suggests, it was powered by a 1.5 litre straight eight engine. Helped by a Supercharger this sophisticated twin cam unit produced around 170 bhp. In its 1927 specification the sleek Delage won the World Constructor's Championship with a series of victories, including a 1-2-3 in the French Grand Prix at Monthlery. The exceptional success had come at a big price, and Delage was forced to withdraw from racing at the end of the season. The four 15 S8s produced went on to race competitively for another two decades.

While the racing cars continued to be successful, the Delage's situation was slowly deteriorating. When the recession hit in the early 1930s, the company was dealt a final blow; the demand for high quality, sophisticated vehicles was at an all time low. In 1935 the company was liquidated and in a series of complex transactions all assets were picked up by competitor Delahaye. Fortunately Delahaye saw a future still for Delage and with Louis Delage on board as an 'advisor' two new road cars were introduced in 1936. Although the six and eight cylinder models were based on Delahayes, they were sufficiently different to silence the critics. Delahaye also recognised the importance of racing and set out to prepare a new Delage competition car.

Single seater racing was not a viable option with costs quickly spiralling as a result of the German and Italian government backed factory efforts. This left the French and British manufacturers to concentrate mainly on endurance races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Delage only competed in the inaugural 1923 running, but looked set to return in 1936. Just a few months before the race Delahaye approved of the competition car and supplied Louis Delage with Delahaye chassis and engine. Together with Paris Delage distributor Walter Watney, Delage prepared the three litre six cylinder engine and Delahaye 135 chassis. Joseph Figoni was commissioned to construct an aerodynamic body to complete the package.

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  Article Image gallery (39) Chassis (2) Specifications