1939 Delage D8-120 Cabriolet
AS SEEN IN THE FEATURE FILMS “KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE”,
“CARMEN JONES” AND “AN AMERICAN IN PARIS”
THIS DELAGE was delivered by Henri Chapron on June 21, 1939. It was from the second series of the model, and as such had a lower and lighter chassis than its predecessor. The ending of the Type D8-120 series had aluminum pistons with four rings, steel connecting rods, and overhead valves. The car possessed a single two-barrel downdraft carburetor and Cotal electric planetary transmission.
Its early history was colorful, as it was reportedly appropriated by a French general of the Vichy government who was a German collaborator. In 1946, after the war’s end, the general sent the car to California but was unable to obtain a visa for himself, so he went to Argentina and sold the car to RKO Studios.
In Hollywood, the car’s styling earned it roles in feature films, including the 1951 classic “An American in Paris”. The producers commissioned changes to the car’s design, including taillight modifications and a new green pain job. Chapron himself was involved in the alterations. The film showed Gene Kelly being chauffeured around the City of Lights in the Delage with actress Nina Foch.
When the movie was completed, the car was returned to Los Angeles. In 1955 it was acquired by Thol “Si” Simonson, a member of the RKO Studios production team who took the car in lieu of the $15,000 severance pay he was owed by RKO. Si sold the Delage through auction in 1987, where it was purchased by Peter Mullin.
Henri Chapron Carrossier
Chassis No. 51760
Production No.: 1 of 66
Engine No. 51760
Inline Eight-Cylinder Engine
115 BHP At 4,000 RPM
4-Speed Cotal Preselector Gearbox
Independent Front, Transverse Leaf Spring with Upper Control Arms and Lever Action Shock Absorbers. Live Rear Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs and Lever Action Shock Absorbers
4-Wheel Hydraulic-Operated Drum Brakes