1924 Delage DI Kelsch style boat-tailed Sports Tourer


Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a beautiful 1924 Delage DI Kelsch style boat-tailed Sports Tourer

The early history of this car is not known, however, it was understood to have been sold new in Australia and spent its early years in and around Bundaberg in Queensland.

In January 2000 the car was advertised in Unique Cars magazine. The advert read:

Delage DI 1924. Restoration project, high quality vintage French tourer, original bonnet, fire wall, front guards, 4-cylinder, overhead valve, 4 speed manual. The car was offered for sale in Victoria.

A well-known vintage car enthusiast from Brisbane saw the advert and subsequently purchased the car. He has a long history of owning and restoring vintage cars and was keen to take on another project. The car was transported to Queensland but it was not until July 2003 before the work started.

The car was in poor condition. It was completely taken apart and every part was examined to determine what needed to be done. There is a saying ” . . . a picture is worth a thousand words” and that is very true here. There are hundreds of photos on file showing the restoration of this car step by step from the very first moment it arrived until it was ultimately completed in 2008.

There was no information available about the type or shape of the original body fitted to this car, though it is possible that an Australian built tourer body was once fitted, perhaps from a Brisbane based coachbuilder. A decision was made to build a new body in the style of a Kelsch boat-tailed, four door tourer, which was a popular design for the Delage DI in the 1920’s. The bonnet, scuttle and front mudguards are from the original body.

This Delage DI was restored with subtle modern improvements to make it a more usable classic.

The car is powered by Delage’s own 2.2 litre, 4-cylinder OHV engine. The original engine has been rebuilt and is now fed by twin SU carburettors which provide increased performance. A more modern Borg & Beck clutch replaced the original multiplate type. The original gearbox was rebuilt and fitted with a modern Laycock De Normanville electric overdrive, which can be engaged with 3rd and 4th gears. Engaging overdrive on 4th gear allows for relaxed highway cruising at 80 to 90 km/hr. Other improvements include a coil ignition (discretely hidden in the case of an original magneto), an electric fuel pump and upgraded brakes. For safety turn indicators and brake lights have been installed.

The gentleman who restored the car was ably assisted by one of his best mates. The whole project to bring this car back to its former glory can be best described as a ‘labour of love’ for two vintage car enthusiasts. In total it took them approximately four years to complete the project and the end result is simply fantastic. This car is a credit to everyone who was involved.

Today this car starts easily and it runs and drives superbly for a vintage car that is incredibly coming up to its 100th birthday! The engine has a surprising amount of power and the brakes work well, which gives you confidence driving the car in modern traffic. The gear change is a traditional ‘H-pattern’, with reverse up and beyond first gear. The car also has a traditional pedal layout of left to right – clutch, brake and accelerator. The gearchanges, as with most vintage cars, take some getting used to, but once you do it is most rewarding. The car sits quite squat on the road and as a result the ride and handling are both surprisingly good.

The car carries an older paint job, which still presents well. On close inspection there are a few minor blemishes and defects here and there.  The two-tone maroon over black colour scheme and black wire wheels suits the car perfectly. The radiator and headlights, which are in very good condition, are a real feature of this car and give it quite an imposing presence.

Inside the cabin of this Delage is just ‘a lovely place to be’! The interior has been thoughtfully and beautifully done. The timberwork, which is in excellent condition is a real feature, it is on the rail that runs around the top of the cabin, the boat tail, as well as the dash board and glove boxes in the rear passenger’s compartment. The wooden steering wheel completes the look. A nice touch is the lovely clock fitted in the middle of the rear passenger’s dashboard. The metal dashboard and instruments present well and look to be in working order. All the upholstery and carpets are in very good condition.

The car is best enjoyed top down, however, there is a soft top and frame that is neatly stored behind/on top of the rear seats if required. The soft top is incredibly well thought out and is something of an origami exercise, albeit quite a simple one once you know how! The top unclips from the frame which enables it to collapse into a very small ‘parcel’ that is neatly covered by a tonneau. There is also a tonneau cover for the rear compartment.

What a fabulous vintage car!


  • A beautifully restored French vintage car.
  • Sympathetic upgrades.
  • Excellent history file since, with hundreds of photos of the restoration.
  • Ready to use and enjoy.

Price –


Born in 1874 in Cognac, France, Pierre Louis Adolphe Delage joined the “Ecole de Arts & Metiers” in Angers, France at the age of 16. He graduated three years later, in 1893 as an engineer. He was a real automobile enthusiast and in 1900 he created a research office that worked for the main brands of the time, including Peugeot. In 1903 Peugeot hired him directly, however, Louis Delage soon realised that working for someone else restricted his entrepreneurial freedom. He found a financial backer and with the borrowed 35,000 Francs founded his own company in 1905.

During its first year Delage focussed on producing parts for another French automobile manufacturer, Helbé, from its factory on the Rue Cormeilles in Levallois-Perret, near the centre of Paris.

In 1906 the company produced its first car, the Type A, which was powered by a small single cylinder De Dion-Bouton engine of 4.5 or 9 hp. The cars quickly increased in size, engine capacity, and seating capacity. The one defining feature of his cars was the quality of the workmanship. Even his light (voiturettes) cars were very well built.

Like so many other automobile manufactures, Delage had a keen interest in racing and in November 1906 he entered two 9 hp racers in the Coupe de Voiturettes held at Rambouillet, France. One of the cars finished in second place and the other failed to finish following an accident in the rain.

By 1907 Delage had outgrown its location on Rue Cormeilles and the company moved to a larger premises on Rue Baudin Levallois.

In 1908 Delage won Grand Prix des Voiturettes held in July of that year with the Type ZC. Times were good for Delage and by 1910 they had again outgrown their facilities and moved to a new premises at 138 Boulevard de Verdun in Courbevoie.

Delage’s ongoing success also resulted in more talented employees joining the company. One of them was a designer by the name of Arthur Michelat. He was a brilliant engineer and his work for Delage included designs for twin ignition, four valves per cylinder, desmodromic valves and five speed transmission. In 1911 his Type X racer won the Grand Prix de Voiturettes of Boulogne. His designs resulted in Delage building some of the most advanced racing cars in the world. In 1914 a Delage Type Y won the Indianapolis 500 with an average speed of 129.06 km/hr.

World War I arrived and Delage stopped building cars and was forced to focus on the war effort producing ammunition. After the War, Delage returned to building cars and started to focus more on the production of larger cars. The first one was the CO powered by a six-cylinder, 4,524cc engine. It was soon joined by the DO with a 3 litre four cylinder engine.

The 1920’s were good times for Delage. During that time they built some of their most well-known models; the DE and the DI. These were soon followed by the new six-cylinder cars, the MD and the DR. In fact, the DR became their best-selling vehicle ever.

The 1929 economic crisis had a big impact on the luxury car market and as a result had a big impact on Delage and its finances. Delage soldiered on and in 1930 introduced the six cylinder D6 and eight cylinder D8. Both were world class cars that were successful, however, the company never resolved its financial situation and on the 20th April 1935 the factory in Courbevoie went into voluntary liquidation. The company was then acquired by Delahaye which continued building cars under the Delage brand.

Louis Delage would not admit defeat and with a new business partner he founded Société Nouvelle des Automobiles Delage (SAFAD) to market his cars which were now manufactured at the Delahaye factory. However, with another war approaching it didn’t work out and by December 1940 the presidency of the SAFAD business had also passed directly into the control of Delahaye.

Following the second World War, the European economy struggled and times were tough for luxury car manufacturers. Delage production officially ended in 1953 and in 1954 Delahaye (and Delage) was absorbed into Hotchkiss and car manufacturing ended.


  • -
  • Delage DI
  • 1924
  • Tourer
  • Manual
  • 49,241 miles
  • 2,120cc


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