reviving the lost classic car website 

  A collection of photos taken By Pat Davis during  AUS 2000 International Rally 4th -5th March 2000



Vintage Vintage Vehicle Club.

an all makes vintage and classic car club based in Bundaberg Queensland Australia

                 1927  1926 Delage DIC Sports.
                              owned by St John and Pauline Herbert

Some DIC's were imported by Jouberts of Melbourne and Chassis  23332 was one of these - and ended up in a Sotheby's auction in Canberra on a Sunday in July 1993

In 1905, Louise Delage, a qualified 30 year-old engineer working for Peugeot, decided to build his own cars and by the end of the year he had formed his own company and exhibited two cars in the Paris show in December.

    For the next thirty years he would strive to produce cars that were masterpieces of  engineering and styling, cars to be appreciated by those that owned them, a work of art rather than just transport.

By the 1920's he was well established with a record of building fast and elegant cars.

But his side valve DE model was not selling well.  Unsold DE's were fitted with pushrod overhead valve gear,  given a wider track and more ground clearance and shipped off to the French Colonies as the DI Colonial or DIC for short.

Pauline was baby-sitting in Sydney that weekend, Her parting words were "Yes you can go to the auction, but don't buy any more cars." . . .She was quite right of course.  I had  quite enough to keep me busy.  But the catalogue had a picture of the Delage Roadster which was clearly worth a look even if purchase was disallowed.  Besides the  estimate in the catalogue was $25,000 to #30,000 which was much more than I could afford.

    But the car looked more genuine than most of the cars and had a distinct French flavour.  The headlights were by Ducellier of Paris, the firewall plate gave the Delage address in the Chaps D Elysee,  there was a Le Nivex fuel gauge and a Jaegar  "quatre Jours"   Clock.

    The bidding seemed a little slow, so I made a bid and it was knocked down to me for $19,000.   In the excitement I had forgotten the purchase embargo.

     The next morning I was leaning on the door of my friendly bank manager who eventually gave me a bank cheque to collect the car and trailer it home.   The rest of the day was spent trying to  fire it up.  I cranked the motor by hand and started experimenting with all the switches on the dashboard to get a spark.  This procedure obviously left some petrol in the muffler, because having traced the magneto earth wire to a switch behind the facia, when it did fire there was a loud explosion from underneath and the muffler disintegrated into a pile of rusty chips on the shed floor.

    Sadly the engine proved to be in poor condition.  The oil pump feeding the rocker box passed through the water jacket where it had corroded through, leaving water and oil in the sump.  The oil pump gears had been eaten away and looked more like a piece of coral,  while many oil channels were blocked up with gunk.  However Parry's Engineering of Arncliffe in Sydney rebuilt the motor expertly, routing the rocker oil pump outside the block to ensure it didn't happen again.

But back to Louis Delage - he continued to build elegant cars as well as racing cars, winning races all over the world including the Indianapolis 500 and the Grand Prix all over Europe, breaking records including the World Land Speed Record ion 1924 at a speed of 143.31 mph.  However, for Louis Delage the depression of the 1930's hit hard.  With his enormously expensive racing teams, high production costs and relatively small production numbers. Survival proved to be impossible.    For Delage himself, once reputed to be the richest man in the world.  With a vast mansion, a large yacht, a socialite and womaniser, known for his spectacular parties and extravagance, the downfall was spectacular. With the demise of Delage in 1935, he was forced to retire to a small cottage with only a bicycle for transport.  He died in poverty in 1943, but his name remains synonymous with elegance and speed.  

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