Here’s a little information about the beautiful 1938 Delage D8-120 ‘de Villars’ which was on display at the 2022 Concours of Elegance. What a beautiful car, which made our top 10 cars from this event. You can see more Concours of Elegance news, reviews, videos and galleries here.
Delage had made its name with flamboyant machines for the super-rich, but the financial rigours of the 1930s left the firm bankrupt as customers dried up.
Delahaye took over, and rather than rebadge its own cars, allowed the brand to flourish with a new eight-cylinder engine in 1936, and the D8-100 and D8-120 were born. The engine was based on Delahaye’s race-tested straight-six, but with a spot of engineer Jean François’s magic it sprouted two extra cylinders, a 4.3-litre displacement, overhead valves and a single carburettor, to deliver around 105bhp.
The ladder-frame chassis was provided in rolling form only, for customers to choose bodies as they wished. This particular car was styled and bodied by de Villars as a special one-off two-seater. The sport body coachwork closely follows the original design sketches from 1938.
The car was first shown at the Concours de l’Auto de Printemps in 1938 and was presented by Madame Richer-Delavau, wife of the owner of Bayard’s garage in Paris. It won the Grand Prize, quite a feat considering that at the pinnacle of the streamline era it was competing against all the major marques of the day. The Delage, whose original registration was 7981-RL3, sold new for USD$7200, making it one of the most expensive models in the world.
During those pre-War years, Otto Zipper was one of the first importers of foreign cars in California and the owner of Precision Motors in Beverly Hills-the dealer to the stars. While in Paris in 1938, Zipper saw the Delage and fell in love with it. He asked the price but it ‘was not for sale’.
Twenty years later, at the Paris Auto Salon, he met Armand Veressi, a Paris editor, and asked about his old love. Veressi, it turned out, had bought it a year-and-a-half earlier. To Zipper’s delight, Veressi agreed to sell him the car, which had 100,000km on the clock at the time. Once Zipper had shipped the Delage to California he restored it to running condition, before selling it in the early 1960s.
In 1969 stewardship passed to Frederick Berndt, thence to Sam Mann in 1994. In 1996 Mann entered the car in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it won the European Classics section and Best in Show.
The current owner bought the Delage in 2019, and some immediate work had to be done to pass the import MoT in Switzerland, such as direction indicators on the lower front. On the rear, a special electrical arrangement has been installed to not disturb the rear design.
The current owner of this car is a Fritz Burkard, The Pearl Collection.
This car was the best in show winner, uniquely chosen by the Concours car owners themselves. Beautiful