Delage 6.11N Coach: Adieu, ma belle

Mutschler, Hardy
Delage 6.11N Coach
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This trick is very old. What looks like a top chop on the Chrysler 300 today - this low ribbon of windows that makes it appear so grim was a design element at Delage more than 70 years ago. Striking, just incomparably more elegant, and: impressively casual. Delage could. Build good cars that were full of esprit. This six-cylinder has lost none of that to this day. The Delage survived the last decades 6 .11 N largely unaffected.

Modern construction

Maybe the Delage 6.11 N so present because it was never turned inside out and restored. Since Monsieur France, as the first owner was really called, gave up his Delage in the mid-1960s, the condition of the car has probably hardly changed. Why Monsieur France from Paris decided on a Delage 6.11 N in 1934 remains a secret. The letter N stood for the normal version. Delage is also said to have offered an S as a sportier variant. Its line must be even lower, more impressive. But the choice is easy to understand when you start the car.

The Delage 6.11 N, very gentle on top of that. Compared to the offers at that time, its engine ran as smooth as silk, and with a displacement of around 2.1 liters it offered a more than respectable output of around 62 hp at 4,000 rpm. The Delage reached around 115 km /h - it was considered a faster car at the time. He owed the high level of performance, among other things, to the valves that he already had in the cylinder head. The almost square six-cylinder engine was designed by Delage engineers Albert Lory and Maurice Gaultier themselves. They had plenty of experience, as eloquent in-line eight-cylinders and crazy racing engines prove.

Grand Prix victory with in-line eight-cylinder in 1927

A V12 with just two liters displacement, for example, the 1925 thanks to twoCompressors made 190 hp, or - a little later - a 1.5-liter in-line eight-cylinder, following the new class, with 170 hp at 8,000 rpm. With him Delage won the Grand Prix World Championship in 1927. The brand sparkled like a gem. But the crash came quickly, despite the high quality and exquisite technology. The whirlpool of the global economic crisis had swept the rich customers with it, the demand for Delage vehicles collapsed, and at the same time the company's capital base had become thin. What racing had not consumed was burned to the brim, Louis Delage, who enthusiastically emulated the feudal life of his clientele.

Hectic model changes, high prices

The model policy remained unrelenting. New types were constantly replacing those that had hardly been introduced. They experimented sometimes with front-wheel drive, sometimes with a supercharged V12 aircraft engine, getting bogged down hopelessly under an autocratic but conceptless Louis Delage, who was also committed to perfection. Everything got out of hand. That was in the early thirties. Only one last chance remained. In 1932, three new models were pushed forward hectically, which were to finally produce quantities: a four-, six- and eight-cylinder each. Immense effort was required to convert the production. Delage particularly relied on the D 6.11. It was strong, well made, but not cheap. Manufacturers closer to the people such as Citroën or Renault already offered similar vehicle configurations for around half of the Delage tariff. However, the competitors usually lacked class and sophistication, including in terms of technology. Vehicle construction in those years relied on proven solutions such as rigid axles. Delage was a step further.

The front wheels of the Delage 6.11 N were individually suspended from wishbones, which the advertising underlined: Delage attested its hopefuls to outstanding driving stability and excellent directional stability. That was true. In its day, the Delage 6.11 N was one of the most advanced that could be bought in this segment. A low center of gravity, plus an almost balanced weight distribution between the front and rear, ensured that the car had a handling that was considered sporty among the five-seater of those days.

The driver in the Delage 6.11 N sorts four unsynchronized gears with a little patience, and of course this transmission, like the rear axle, also comes from the drawing boards of the Delage engineers. Nothing was off the shelf. The claims of the patron were only satisfied with a vertical range of manufacture that clung to the 100 percent mark. They produced their own spark plugs and carburettors, albeit under license. Who afterStrives for perfection, does not like to delegate.

Disgraceful takeover by Delahaye

Automobiles like the Delage 6.11 N bear witness to this consistent line. Even the impending doom did not offer enough arguments for compromise. Louis Delage paid dearly for it, his self-centeredness and lack of economic vision caused his company to stumble. La belle voiture française, the beautiful French car, was written by Delage in advertisements shortly before the end. They praised the perfect silence and the absence of any vibration. The engine is so well stored that it could keep up with significantly more powerful automobiles.

Anyone who has the pleasure of driving the Delage 6.11 N des Monsieur France today will feel its finesse in every detail. They are still the same cushions on which Monsieur France once sat. Your fabric has held up, it is a little brittle, but still the old one. This applies to the instruments and the switches, even to the glass, which does not allow a view in the rear because its film is yellowed. Just looking at it is a pleasure.

The coach body of the Delage 6.11 N, presumably designed by Letourneur & Marchand, masters the game with surfaces and proportions. Because the Delage 6.11 N is not as low as it seems: The flat glass ribbon belies the true dimensions. But getting up was a wasted effort. The longed-for success failed to materialize, and Louis Delage, the autocratic factory, castle and yacht owner, slipped away from his life's work. In 1935 the name and factory belonged to the competitor Delahaye. In 1946, the year before his death, the patron is said to have stood alone in front of his former showroom on the Champs Elysées in Paris, shabbily dressed and splintered glasses in front of his eyes. He knew that he had lived his lavish dream. But that was long gone.


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