Delage D6-3L Grand Prix Race Car

From the beginning, Louis Delage believed that racing success would sell cars. A year after founding Delage & Cie. he fielded two cars in the Coupe des Voiturettes de L’Auto, a grueling weeklong contest. One crashed, but the other finished second to a Sizaire et Naudin. Thus began a long and quite successful association with the sport.

In 1908, three single-cylinder Delages ran the Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club des Voiturettes at Dieppe, finishing first, fifth and twelfth. Louis Delage had been right: orders for new cars poured in and he had to enlarge his factory. In 1913, a team of Type Y cars with six-liter engines finished the Grand Prix de France at Le Mans in first, second and fifth places. Buoyed by success, drivers Thomas and Guyot took two of them to the 1914 Indianapolis 500, where Thomas’s victory and Guyot’s third established Delage’s reputation abroad.

Heady with success, Louis Delage commissioned his designer, Arthur-Léon Michelat, to work up a double-overhead-cam four cylinder engine of 4.4-liters for the 1914 French Grand Prix. Michelat chose vertical shaft drive for his camshafts and operated the valves desmodromically, without springs. The performance of this Type S was underwhelming, finishing eighth place in the race. Then war intervened and the cars were mothballed. In 1916, they were purchased by the American sportsman Harry Harkness. Barney Oldfield placed fifth in one at Indy that year, and a cadre of drivers campaigned them at Sheepshead Bay with varying results.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August 2009 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.

137 hp, 2,988 cc overhead valve six-cylinder engine, four-speed Cotal electric preselector gearbox, independent front suspension with transverse leaf spring, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 125.5".

Source: RM Auctions

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