1906 DELAGE TYPE B REAR-ENTRANCE TONNEAU
Registration No. Not Registered.
Car No. 4
Engine No. 18819
Red with varnished wood body and mudguards.
Engine:De Dion Bouton single cylinder, 699 cc, with automatic inlet valve; Gearbox: 3-speed and reverse; Suspension: semi-elliptic front and rear; Brakes: rear wheels and transmission. Right hand drive.
Louis Delage was an engineering graduate who became head of Peugeot's testing and research department before leaving in 1905 to set up, with limited capital, his own company in Levallois-Perrot, a suburb to the north-west of Paris. With Delage from Peugeot came Augustin Legros and together they designed a neat small car, using a De Dion Bouton single-cylinder engine in a shaft-drive chassis that featured an attractively shaped radiator.
It is unlikely that any cars were sold in 1905 but for 1906 the Type B was produced, having the same chassis as the preceding Type A (of which only a handful were made) but with a smaller engine. This was initially a 5 cv (½-litre) unit, but the more familiar 6 hp De Dion Bouton engine soon became the standard fitting. The well known British importer of Peugeot cars, Charles Friswell, added these Delage vehicles to his agency, rather cheekily selling the Type B as the 'Baby Friswell'. As Louis Delage was struggling to make ends meet at this time he was probably pleased with sales, however obtained.
To promote his cars Delage commenced racing his products at the earliest opportunity, entering two cars in the 1906 Coupe de Voiturettes. This gruelling event consisted of 960 miles of eliminating trials run over six days (during which one of the Delages was eliminated in a crash) and for those that lasted the course a straightforward race of 140 miles on the final day. The surviving Delage came home second just 5 minutes behind the winning Sizaire-Naudin (which had a larger engine) at an average speed of 34.2 mph. The only difference between the racing car and the standard product was a 9 hp De Dion Bouton engine under the bonnet, thus demostrating the soundness of the basic design.
This example of the Delage Type B has a 6 hp De Dion Bouton engine. The steel chassis is fitted with a most attractive four seat rear-entrance tonneau body by coachbuilders Kreff & Heckenbenner of Neuilly-sur-Seine, made just down the road from the Delage works.
Whilst this car has not been used for a number of years, without too much work it should be ready to take to the road again. Of proven design and with one one of the best engines of the period it is a delightful little motor car. It could well be the earliest surviving Delage, a make that went on to obtain acclaim for both its production and racing cars in the years that followed.