The late Sir Peter Ustinov summed up the Delage best: "One drives, of course, an Alfa Romeo; One is driven in a Rolls-Royce, but one only gives a Delage to one's favorite mistress".
Founder Louis Delage did not earn this accolade on luck.
Delage was a graduate engineer, and a former chief draftsman and tester for Peugeot.
When he created his namesake company in 1905, he strictly enforced two codes for building automobiles: one, they must be of the highest-quality engineering, and two, his automobiles had to exude beauty and art.
Under his rule for the next thirty years, Louis Delage's wonderful machines exceeded these expectations.
Although Delage never personally built bodies for his cars, he dictated that the contracted coachbuilders achieve a constant level of elegance and finish.
Indeed, while the coachbuilders were responsible for the actual design and completion, it was Delage himself deciding which style bodies would grace his chassis.
This exclusivity brought the finest coachbuilder's creations to the Delage chassis, making them the darlings of the Concours circuit.
What made Delage grand also became its undoing.
Saying that Louis Delage ruled his company could be an understatement.
Even though he employed the best engineering people available, Delage ultimately had the last word.
Grossly excessive amounts of money were spent on prototypes that proved inadequate.
More capital was spent on racing endeavors- which did bring success in winning the 1927 Grand Prix world championship- that should have been put towards better use.
Chassis were being sold at very low rates to usher them out the door.
Finally in April 1935, Delage was in receivership.
Louis Delage lost his entire fortune, and died virtually penniless in 1947.
But that was not to be the end of the car bearing his name.
After liquidation, the marque was purchased by a former agent for the brand.
In August of '35 the newly rescued Delage entered into contract with Delahaye, and two year later was fully absorbed by the manufacturer.
All Delages from then onward were essentially built from Delahaye components but using the traditional Delage styling cues.
Although no longer in control of the company, Louis Delage was still retained, using his experience and name recognition to shape future models.
Enter the Delage D8-120 and D8-120S.
Debuting as a Sport model in the autumn of 1936 along with the longer-wheelbased D8-100, the D8-120 featured the Delahaye-designed 4.3 liter straight eight coupled to a Cotal electro-magnetic gearbox.
Chassis arrangement mirrored Delahaye's finest as well.
Almost immediately Louis Delage would push for an upgraded chassis, and in June 1937 the D8-120S was ready for production.
This new flagship chassis was lower and more powerful, with the 4.3-liter engine now bumped to 4.75 liters.
Bare chassis would be priced at 94,000 French Francs, and would be slated to receive some of the finest coachbuilt bodies ever to grace a Delage.
The D8-120S chassis #51643 featured here has been cloaked in what many have considered the most beautiful Delage of all, the Aerosport coupe.
Crafted by the Parisian firm of Letourneur & Marchand, this dramatic aerodynamic body is one of just twelve produced.
The bodies, produced in three series, were fitted to four of the lower S chassis.
As typical in coachbuilt cars, each had individual styling cues, ranging from head- and fog- light placement to the number of louvers on the hood.
51643 was completed in September of 1938, and was immediately displayed at the 1938 Paris Salon.
It was purchased new by Rene Giordano, who kept the car for a number of months before selling it to someone who in turn sold it to Maurice Ragou in the 1940s.
Ragou kept the car in his possession until 1980, restoring the car in his restoration shop.
Pierre Carayon de Metz purchased the car from Ragou, keeping it until 1986 when he sold it to the Musee de Nancy in France.
The car was displayed in the museum until 1988, and the consigned to the Sotheby's Geneva auction in March 1988.
It was purchased by the Blackhawk Collection in Danville, California, and restored to its present condition shortly afterwards.
The car was sold to the Samsung Collection, where it was kept privately until December of 2008.
It now resides in the John W. Rich automobile collection of Pennsylvania.