Some cars are simply perfect for concours events, and the one-of-one 1938 Delage D8-120 ‚de Villars‘ that has just been awarded the 2022 Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award is such a car.
With its muscular „straight-eight“ engine and the valanced lines on the 5-meter body, this car has a powerful presence. It is a presence that been winning automotive concours events since the very first day it rolled out of the doors of Parissienne Automotive Coutourier De Villars.
On that day in May 1938 it won the Grand Prix at Concours de l’Auto de Printemps in Paris, defeating a field of the most beautiful cars you can imagine.
The automotive Concours d’Elegance was first held in Paris during the Interwar period and spread to other European countries. As the capital of coachbuilding at the time, these concourses must have been remarkable. This was a time when the most expensive cars were delivered as a chassis and drivetrain to the couturier of the owner’s choice, and Paris had an extensive array of superb coachbuilders: Pourtout, Chapron, Facel Vega, Letourneur et Marchand, Franay, Vanvooren, Hibbard & Darrin, Saoutchik, and perhaps the best known of all, Figoni et Falaschi.
Winning its first concours in its very first showing was a great achievement, but pales in comparison with what the car has achieved since.
The car was then brought to America and, after being in the possession of the most renowned automobile collectors of the time, Sam Mann purchased it.
Mann can claim fame on many fronts, having made many fortunes with different inventions, but his eye to pick a winning concours car is perhaps the keenest in existence.
Cars purchased and restored by Sam and Emily Mann have won the world’s most important and prestigious concours event – the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance FOUR TIMES! Two people have also achieved that feat: Cosmetics billionaire J.B. Nethercutt and famous Las Vegas Casino Magnate William Harrah.
Sam Mann restored the car and it subsequently gave him his Best in Show at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1996.
In recent times the car has been in the collection of Fritz Burkard of Switzerland, and over the last few years it has been shown at all the major European events, many of which are in the gallery to this story.
The car’s most recent win was at the 2022 Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace, where the Best in Show award is chosen by the owners of the Concours contestants.
Today’s announcement means the D8-120 ‚de Villars‘ has once more been to the summit, confirming it is indeed one of the finest examples to emerge from the storied Delage brand.
Also competing for the Peninsula Classics Best of the Best Award this year was a distinguished group of finalists, including a 1932 Duesenberg Model J Sports Torpedo by Figoni, a 1934 Duesenberg LaGrande Convertible Coupe and a 1937 Bugatti 57S Cabriolet by Vanvooren. Other nominees were the 1938 Dubonnet Xenia Coupe by Saoutchik on a design by Andreau, a 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Coupe by Zagato, the 1966 Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale „Tre Posti“ by Pininfarina and a 1956 Jaguar D-Type racer.
The winning car will be on display later this week at „The Quail, a Motorsport Gathering“ and for those who can’t be in Monterey, there are dozens of images of the car in the image gallery for this story.