c.1924 DELAUNAY-BELLEVILLE TORPEDO TOURER
Registration No. 1203 FJ75 (French)
Chassis No. Tba
Engine No. Tba
Yellow with black wings and fawn leather interior
Engine: four cylinder, 2.6 litres; Gearbox: four speed manual; Suspension: front and rear, semi-elliptic leaf spring; Brakes: two wheel drum. Left hand drive
With the most aristocratic of names, this famous French firm enjoyed the best of reputations in the first 25 years of the century. The company's background was in industrial, marine and locomotive boiler manufacture, and it had been highly successful. Through the Edwardian era, the name was ranked with Napier and Rolls-Royce, and the firm's illustrious clientele ran from the Russian Royal Family downwards. First appearing at the 1904 Paris Salon, and a quality car from the start, very soon much larger models were added to the range. Specification was not adventurous, but standards of engineering and finish were of the highest, and the make was characterised by its round radiator and bonnet, recalling the products which had founded their fortunes.
The much-contracted market for luxury cars in the 1920s saw Delaunay-Belleville concentrating on smaller models, but, weakened by the departure of the designer Barbarou, then the death of Delaunay-Belleville himself and the turmoil of the War, a slow decline continued through the 1920s and 30s, culminating in the last handful of cars immediately after WWII.
This early vintage Delaunay has much in common with its Edwardian counterparts, in as much as there is design and thought in many of simplest of aspects of the car. These range from the discreet single button on the bonnet which, when lifted, pulls to reveal a handle which may be twisted and then the bonnet sides would part. Similarly it would have had the same pull-up radiator cap of its predecessors.
The car is also most interesting from a coachwork point of view, as although there is no maker's name on the body, it is a very attractive, almost dual cowled torpedo style tourer, with boat-decking on its top surface. The car also retains stirrup mounted original head lights and scuttle mounted sidelights as well as spare wheels to each running board and a period trunk to the rear.
The Delaunay was purchased by the Sharpe Family in France and brought to the UK some years ago, since when it has been stored in sympathetic conditions at the 'The Gables' until earlier this year. The car does run, but it is noted that there is a hole in the cylinder block.
From the various detail features peculiar to the model, to the attractive coachwork, in Christie's opinion this represents an intriguing basis for a concours style restoration, which in due course would enable its new owner to have one of the most interesting cars on the field.