1924 Delaunay-Belleville P4B
Year of manufacture1924
1924 Delaunay-Belleville P4B Drophead Coupé
Chassis no. 13338
Engine no. 11924
Motor manufacturers from 1904, Delaunay-Belleville was already a well-respected engineering firm, selling its steam boilers to, among others, the Royal Navy. Louis Delaunay recruited Marius Barbarou, formerly with Benz and Clement, to design his cars, the first of which appeared at the Paris Salon in December 1904. Right from the start, Delaunay-Belleville motor cars were of the finest quality and within a few years the firm had built a reputation that ranked it alongside Daimler, Panhard and Rolls-Royce. Considered by many to be better than a Silver Ghost, the Delaunay-Belleville was greatly favoured by European nobility, among them the King of Spain, the King of Greece and the Norwegian Royal Family, while the Czar of Russia owned a sizeable collection. In 1911 the company published a lavish book, with contributions from all members of L'Académie française yet containing only one picture of a car: the HB6 belonging to the Czar of Russia.
Characterised by their round radiator and bonnet, most models carried formal coachwork and were chauffeur driven; indeed, rival motor manufacturer Fernand Charron once declared, 'No owner ever drives his Delaunay it just isn't done.' A wide variety of models continued to be offered after WWI, one of the smaller being the 2.6-litre P4B, the overhead-camshaft four-cylinder engine of which was much admired by W O Bentley. The P4B was in production from 1922 to 1927.
Probably deliverednew to the UK, this 1924 Delaunay-Belleville P4B Drophead coupe is pictured in The Complete Encyclopaedia of Motorcars by Georgano, and is most likely bodied by Park Ward as it features the British coachbuilder's signature spring-loaded sliding side windows. In the late 1980s the car found its way into the collection of Mr Martin Button, who later became one of the key figures at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Élégance. In the mid-1990s the Delaunay returned to Europe and since then has resided in the Netherlands. An older restoration, the car has always been carefully maintained and comes with a nice history file containing photographs and maintenance bills accumulated over the years. This Dutch-registered Delaunay-Belleville P4B Drophead Coupé has had four happy owners over the course of the last 25 years and is said to be a pleasure to drive, turning heads and bringing smiles wherever it goes.