Among the world’s finest artistic masterpieces — as beautiful as any painting by masters such as Picasso, Cézanne or Matisse — are works of art known as “rolling art.”
In other words, cars.
If you do not believe it, perhaps you suffer from a bit of snobbery, or lack imagination, or simply have never experienced the fine craftsmanship and artistic genius that gave rise to some of the world’s most beautiful vehicles.
One of these is the Delage D8SS that is shown in these photos. It is the only one the French company ever made.
While photographing this masterpiece at the Danville, Calif.-based Blackhawk Automotive Museum, I was amazed by its beauty.
Its craftsmanship was perfected, from the Delage’s curves to its unique color to the Peacock hood ornament that adds an exclamation point to an antique classic.
Of the Delages produced, the finest masterpiece was the D8 with its four-liter straight-eight engine that was introduced at the Paris Salon in October 1929.
For nearly five wonderful years, Delage produced these elegant beauties until 1933.
Blackhawk said such attributes inspired “coachbuilders,” as auto designers were then called, “to create their most-stylish designs.”
In the Delage, auto building became an art.
In the single D8SS, the Delage became a masterpiece.
The D8 developed into the D8S, a 102-hp engine, only to have a power increase up to 118-hp at 3,800 rpm, according to Blackhawk.
Not content with that, the D8SS had a power increase up to 145 hp at 4,500 rpm.
With elegance and power, the D8SS surely made a statement. So much so, that anyone seeing this vehicle would never, ever forget it.
As with most automobiles in that era, partnerships were formed, as manufacturing autos even then was a very expensive undertaking since so much work was done by hand.
“The coachbuilding firm of Fernandez & Darrin was formed through a partnership between American designer Howard ‘Dutch’ Darrin and Mr. Fernandez, a Parisian banker,” according to Blackhawk.
Darrin was a former partner of the Hibbard & Darrin coachbuilding company, which Blackhawk said created “concours-winning body designs for the chassis of Europe’s most-prestigious luxury marques.”
The beautifully elegant cabriolet shown in these photos “has a removable panel over its front seat and length that is accented with polished aluminum on the hood and belt molding,” Blackhawk notes.
“The Lalique crystal radiator mascot, ‘Tete de paon,’ depicts the proud peacock’s head in profile,” Blackhawk notes.
- 7-cylinder, straight-eight, OHV
- 3.03″ bore, 4.29″ stroke
- 247 cubic inch
- 145 hp at 4,500 rpm
- Fernandez & Darrin, Paris, France.
- Automobiles Delage, Courbevoie, Seine, France
Price when new
- $3,000 (chassis only)