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  Delage 2LCV      

  Article Image gallery (19) 3 Specifications  
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Country of origin:France
Produced from:1923 - 1925
Numbers built:5
Designed by:Charles Planchon & Albert Lory
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:November 03, 2008
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Click here to download printer friendly versionA racer at heart, Louis Delage was forced to take a step back at the end of the Great War. Designed by the talented Arthur Michelat, the very powerful Delage racers were highly competitive on both sides of the Atlantic on both sides of the Atlantic. Michelat's talents were also noticed by the French government and he was enlisted to improve the country's military vehicles. His place at the head of the Delage design department was taken by Louis Delage's cousin Charles Planchon, but in a destructed world, motor racing was not on the top of anybody's priority list.

Eventually it was the persistence of one of Delage's ace drivers, Rene Thomas, that persuaded Louis Delage to take up manufacturing racing cars once again. The French company did not return to top level motor racing right away and first constructed a one-off special for Thomas based on their latest production car. Best known as 'La Torpille', it was highly successful in hillclimbs and also broke its fair share of world records. After the international motorsport's governing body announced new regulations for the 1923 season, Delage had Planchon design a brand new Grand Prix car.

Delage's goal was to have the new Grand Prix machine, dubbed the 2LCV, ready for the obviously very important French Grand Prix at Tours. This gave Planchon little over three months to complete the design and construction of the engine. It did not help that he had come up with a rather complicated V12 engine, displacing just under two litres as per the new regulations. This layout is today commonly accepted in racing car circles, but in those days in-line engines were the norm. To add to the complexity, Planchon also fitted his new engine with twin overhead camshafts.

Beautifully finished, the V12 engine was a true work of art. It was installed in a conventional ladder frame chassis with live axles on both ends. A somewhat unusual feature was the double friction dampers on each of the four corners. The engine's 95 bhp was fed to the rear wheels through a four speed gearbox. Despite the tight schedule, Planchon managed to get one 2LCV ready for the French GP, but only barely and without proper practice. Of course Rene Thomas was on hand to drive the new GP racer, but it was a very poor showing with the car breaking down in only the sixth lap of the race.

Probably not completely justified, but Planchon was blamed for the failure and was replaced by his right hand man Albert Lory. He set about modifying Planchon's design, but only in detail. The biggest change was to invert the flow through the engine with the intakes now on the outside and the exhaust coming out in-between the banks. He also modified the lubrication system by adding two more oil pumps. Lory's changes boosted the power to around 120 bhp and with the entire year to test, he also ensured the performance was backed up with sufficient reliability.

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  Article Image gallery (19) 3 Specifications