Coachbuilders of the 30’s Series # 2 : 1937 Delage D8-120 S Pourtout Aero Coupe

The next time you visit your dentist, consider this. Lurking behind those protective plastic goggles may be the next Georges Paulin, the genius sculptor of the aluminum-dressed loveliness you see here, gracing the impeccably manicured Pebble Beach Golf Links fairway. In 2005, when these photos were taken, this beautiful example had stolen the “Best In Show” award at the 55th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Georges Paulin was a dental technician who preferred to spend his spare time creating achingly gorgeous aerodynamic auto designs for French coachbuilder Marcel Pourtout. When this prototype appeared at the 1937 Paris Auto Show, it caused a sensation. Louis Delage commissioned it himself, and adored the car so completely he took it into his personal collection.

To fully appreciate the car’s bloodline, we must backtrack to 1905, where an ambitious Louis Delage began designing and building cars in Levallois-Perret near Paris, placing emphasis on quality and reliability. He’d just departed from Peugeot, bringing Augustin Legros with him. Legros became Chief Engineer, and together the two men set about creating one of the premier luxury automotive brands of the age. Delages were entered into races very early, and immediately took prestigious titles across Europe and the U.S., including eventual victory at the 1914 Indianapolis 500. At it’s zenith in 1930, the company employed 3,000 people working in a factory laid out over 51,000 square meters. However, in 1935, like so many other car makers, they went into liquidation, and were purchased by rival Delahaye, who continued to produce cars under the Delage name, with Louis installed as director. The D8 120 was constructed after the acquisition, and became the basis for the Paulin-Pourtout masterpiece.

Cast your eyes over the clean lines, unblemished by fussy fittings and embellishments. Admire the frameless door windows, and that derriere–poetry could be written about it. Nothing is allowed to detract from the coachwork, shaped in a wind tunnel, coherent from every angle. Surely, somewhere out there are design courses based solely on Paulin’s chef d’œuvre. Under the skin lives a 4.75-liter straight eight developing 120 brake horsepower at 4,200 rpm, enough to propel this two ton beauty to a rapid 160 kph.

Paulin was an authentic hero. He worked for British Intelligence during the German occupation as part of the Resistance. He was captured and executed by the Nazis in 1942, and later posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Medaille de la Resistance by the French government. We must remember Georges for his courageous services to freedom-loving humanity, and not least of all, design.

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