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Lot 553: Delage D8 Four-Seater Sports Tourer

Grand Palais Sale, Bonhams (7 February 2013)

This magnificent Delage D8 with coachwork by Henri Chapron was purchased by the immediately preceding owner from Bonhams' Sale of the famous George Milligen Collection, held at the Goodwood Revival meeting on 3rd September 2004 (Lot 156). The Delage marque was always a favourite of George Milligen, who bought this lovely car, with its elegant helmet wings, from that well-known dealer in Veteran and Vintage cars, Cecil Bendall of Hitchin in 1962. Now finished in George's 'house colours' of RAF blue with red and gold coach lining, it remained close to his heart throughout his 42 years of ownership. The car was completely overhauled in 1964-65, Milligen's records showing that as part of this comprehensive rebuild, which included much work on the transmission, brakes and front axle, the crankshaft and flywheel were balanced, the block was welded and sleeved, the big-end and main bearings were re-metalled and the valves were built up and re-seated. At the same time the body was repaired and repainted by local coachbuilder R Robinson & Company, the car was reupholstered to match the original trim and the plating was renewed. The Delage was driven to France in the early 1990s after a new distributor was fitted, and George Milligen started and ran it just a couple of weeks before his death in 2004. In its day, the Delage D8 was the only French car which could be mentioned in the same breath as the 32CV Hispano-Suiza in terms of elegance and engineering excellence, while the Delage factory at Courbevoie was the most modern in the French industry, equipped with the finest tools that money could buy. 'Delage have to their credit many world's records, including a world's championship, and more awards at the principal Concours d'Elegance than any other car in the world,' the company's advertising proudly boasted, adding: 'To these achievements Delage have added a third and greater. They have made the highest known degree of luxury and performance available at the price the average motorist can pay.' Designed by Maurice Gaultier, the D8 was the sensation of the 1929 Paris Salon, with its smooth and silent 4.0-litre, overhead-valve straight-eight engine breathing, in its normal 105bhp version, through a single Delage-built Smith-Barriquand five-jet carburettor. The chassis was a strong X-braced structure with servo-assisted braking. The impressive list of D8 owners - promoted by the factory as 'experienced and justifiably demanding folk, men of industry and of the world, businessmen and elegant women' - included King Gustav V of Sweden, King Alexander of Yugoslavia and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia as well as leading businessmen and politicians, while the most glamorous film and cabaret stars of the day like Betty Spell and Josephine Baker added sex appeal to the glorious coachwork that adorned the D8 chassis at the major concours d'´┐Żlegance of the day (which a Delage usually won). Bodywork on this car is by Chapron of Levallois-Perret, Paris, a company founded in 1919 by 33-year-old Henri Chapron, a native of Nouan-le-Fuzelier in the Sologne region of France. Unlike so many fashionable French carrossiers, Chapron carried none of the mental baggage that came from having graduated to cars from building horse-drawn carriages; consequently, his work had a freshness and innate sense of proportion that was well suited to the long-bonneted Delage D8 chassis. The wooden dashboard of this car, with its delicate metal inlay and inset instrument panel, is particularly elegant. The immediately preceding owner sympathetically re-commissioned the car: fixing some minor faults, overhauling the carburettors, adding a radiator mascot and having the interior re-trimmed in crocodile skin leather. Presented in very good running condition, this wonderfully stylish example of French motoring excellence is offered with UK Swansea V5 document for the registration mark 'GP 7334'.

Lot Details
Auction Grand Palais Sale
Bonhams, Paris, France
Lot Number553
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Condition rating2
Registration number
Chassis number34785
Engine number1474
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors