Delage D8-120 Aersport Coupe by Marchand

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D8-120 Aersport Coupe by Marchand





The first major new product of this marriage was the highly regarded D8 120. A well-assembled team of engineers worked with Louis Delage in an effort to design a suitably powerful and efficient engine for their flagship motor car. The solution was found in a completely new eight-cylinder inline engine that found its roots in the successful six-cylinder Delahaye 135M engine. The new engine would power both flagships of the new Delages and was employed not only the with the beautiful and sporting D8 120 but also with the longer wheelbase luxury models of the D8 100. This would require a truly dual-purpose design that would serve its clients exceptionally.

It was a perfect solution – the car’s long hood and striking external exhaust struck just the right note, and before long many of Europe’s leading coachbuilders were crafting new designs for the chassis – Saoutchik, Chapron, Figoni et Falaschi and Letourneur et Marchand.

Among them perhaps none was so astute as the firm of Henri Chapron. Never given to extravagance like Figoni et Falaschi or Saoutchik, Chapron had built a reliable following among discriminating clients, all of the wealthiest families in both the continental United States and especially in Europe, who sought elegantly prepared motor cars that were as suitable on the show fields of the concours events of the day as they were on the roads. For this reason among others, the Parisian firm of Henri Chapron was among the most successful Carrozzerie of the era.

While Chapron built many closed cars, it was his open cars that earned his reputation in concours d’elegance competition, as the lines of the lovely Drophead coupe offered here so eloquently demonstrate. Chapron’s clean but elegant design, with its sweeping bodylines proved a perfect complement to the graceful, long hood of the new Delage.

Delage’s signature external exhaust provide exactly the sporting touch needed to convey the capabilities of the superlative chassis – and the coup de grace in the case of this striking Chapron bodied three-position drophead coupe. The lovely side spear serves to underscore the remarkable subtlety of the design, while the rear spare adds a continental touch, visually lengthening the car while leaving the sensuous curves of the body sides unobstructed.

By October 1937 Delage were also listing at the Paris motor show a « D8-120 » model, which was essentially a « D8-100 » with the cylinder bore/diameter increased by 4mm. Listed power was now 120hp (89 kW) at 4,500 rpm.

In 1939 the larger engine from the D8-120 also found its way into the D8-100. However, with the declaration of war in 1939 and the invasion of northern France, in 1940, passenger car production came to an end, as the Delahaye plant was taken over by the German military occupation. Although the six cylinder Delages would return in 1946, after the war, the eight cylinder D-8 did not.

Letourneur & Marchand

Jean-Arthur Marchand was a country boy from a village on the Côte d’Or. Jean-Marie Letourneur was from Le Creusot, a city of iron foundries. Both had come to Paris at the turn of the twentieth century to learn the art of coachbuilding. They met in the shops of Henri Binder, where Letourneur had been hired and the younger Marchand was completing an apprenticeship. Both men were ambitious, so they decided to strike out on their own, taking the workshops of a body company that had gone bankrupt. In the beginning they did contract work for other coachbuilders –Labourdette, Franay, and their old boss Binder – and supplied a few complete bodies to manufacturers like Darracq.

By 1930, Letourneur & Marchand were turning to streamlining. Their masterpiece in this regard, the “Coach JELM,” also known as “Coupé Panoramique,” was created by Letourneur’s son Marcel. Commonly called the “Yo-Yo car” from the Art Deco accent line on its body, its hallmark was a sweeping sidelight extending from the door into the rear quarter, with overlapping glass and no center pillar. Similar bodies were built on the Delage D6 chassis and for Hispano-Suiza during 1935. Both the “homologation mule” and test car for the D8-120 series (chassis 50774 and 50789, respectively) received JELM bodies. A third example, also the last of its kind, would subsequently be built adorned with the same coachwork.

The D8 Aérosport.

If there is any car that deserves the nickname “Super Delage,” it is the Aérosport Coupé. For the D8-120’s first formal introduction at the 1936 Paris Salon, a special presentation was called for. Louis Delage himself entrusted Letourneur & Marchand with the task of drawing a more radical design, to be both more aerodynamic and sporting in appearance than their already well know JELM design.

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