Peugeot 402 Special Sport Roadster by Darl`mat by Pourtout

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402 Special Sport Roadster by Darl`mat by Pourtout





Emile Eugene Henry Darl'Mat was born in Villers-en-Prayères, in the Aisne region of France, in 1892. He apprenticed with his cousin Herluison at Nangis in 1907, the very man who had helped Clement Ader to develop his steam-powered aircraft. He learned trimming, soldering, forging for automobiles. Then assuming that he had learned everything that he needed to, Darl'Mat moved to Paris to seek his fortune, where he found employment as a mechanic-driver of a wealthy businessman, who befriended him and took him to San Francisco for a year. On his return to Paris in 1921, Darl'Mat bought a property at 35, rue Malar, with a loan from his former boss. He opened a garage that was first dedicated to a French car brand called Buire, and then from 1923 for Peugeots.

The garage Darl'Mat developed very rapidly as Emile offered his customers improved mechanicals and even special bodies on Peugeot chassis. By 1930, the company employed 160 people, and by 1932, was producing the Peugeot 301, which becomes a good basis for Darl'Mat and the famous dental assistant-turned-automobile-designer Georges Paulin, who was no less passionate about automotive design. Paulin designed and patented a system for a retractable roof that would drop into the boot of the 301, and which he offered to Darl'Mat to transform a Peugeot 301 and exhibit the on their stand at the Paris Auto Salon of 1933. Peugeot was seduced, and they ordered a limited production series of this model called the "transformation Eclipse." But it was the 302, an offshoot of the 402 that was launched in 1935, which provided Darl'Mat the opportunity to go to town. On the chassis of the 302 Darl'Mat mounted that 2.0-litre engine of the 402 and its rear axle, and changed the front suspension to independents. The mechanicals were slightly modified, specifically with changeover to twin carburetors, and the body design was the master stroke of the genius, Georges Paulin. Driven by Charles de Cortanze, Marcel Contet and Jean Pujol, this car ran for 25 hours on the Montlhéry circuit, averaging 139.282 km/h, with a best lap speed of 147.728 km/h by Cortanze.

Given this success, Peugeot gave its go-ahead to build this car in limited numbers and the first to be made were the Special 302 Sport, followed by the Sport Special 402 in 1938. Chassis from the 302 and engines from the 402, with slight modifications, would leave Peugeot's Sochaux plant for Darl'Mat's coachbuilder Marcel Pourtout in Rueil-Malmaison, with Paulin designed body styles in three versions: coupe, convertible and roadster. In 1937, Emile Darl'Mat entered three of his cars, carefully prepared, for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The engines were prepared at Peugeot by Giauque, the engineering director. Incidentally, these engines, unlike the series production, featured a single carburetor but it did not develop less than 73bhp at a reasonable 4500rpm. With a four-speed "Cotal" 'box, the cars reach a top speed of 170 km/h and finished in seventh, eighth and tenth places, driven by Cortanze, Serre, Pujol, Contet, Porthout and Rigal. In the 1938 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Darl'Mats are even quicker and though two cars dropped out, the car with Cortanze and Contet came in at fifth overall and won its 2.0-litre class.

With war approaching, customers for such cars dropped and Emile Darl'Mat stopped production in July 1939, after building 104 of the 302 and 402 Special Sport all combined. Georges Paulin's amazing design and the Peugeot 402 made at the initiative of Emile Darl'Mat reflected a poetic and elegant interpretation of the aerodynamic phenomena that at point was still poorly understood. And if Darl'Mat means "hold on" in Breton, the DSE of the 402 stood for Darl'Mat Sport with gearbox Electromagnetic ... the famous 'box Cotal.

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