Grand prix classic rebuilt in Chch to ship to UK
Media release – September 20, 2006
Famous old world grand prix classic rebuilt in Christchurch about to be shipped back to England
One of the most priceless classic cars ever restored in the southern hemisphere is about to be shipped to England after a total restoration project in Christchurch.
The 1927 Grand Prix Delage has undergone massive rebuilding at Auto Restorations Ltd.
The owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, lives in Monaco and wants to race it again on the classic circuit in England and Europe.
He visits New Zealand regularly and had asked Auto Restorations to rebuild the vehicle as it was when Dick Seaman owned and raced it.
Auto Restorations general manager, Alan Stanton, said the 79 year old vehicle was one of the most amazing projects they have ever undertaken.
When it arrived some work had been carried out but everything had to be stripped and started from scratch to ensure not only authenticity but also mechanical reliability. One of the biggest undertakings was to manufacture a complete gearbox.
``This has been a real challenge and a lot of fun. We had to scour the world for needle roller bearings for the engine before we could make a new crankshaft to suit the rollers,’’ Stanton said.
``We have done several cars over the years for the same owner and we have the expertise to carry out these complicated jobs.
``The Delage owner is a very keen car enthusiast. This car will be sent back to Europe next month to be added to his collection and for racing again.”
``We have already started another project for the same client, building a new body on a Delahaye chassis and he is sending us another exciting project very shortly.’’
When he founded his car factory near Paris in 1905 Louis Delage sought the highest quality that could be achieved.
“The year 1927 was great year for Delage; the cars swept the board, winning every Grand Prix they entered and this sort of dominance was never seen before nor after,’’ Stanton said.
“At the end of the season, with his goals achieved, Delage split the racing team and sold the Grand Prix-winning cars.”
This Delage was one of the four team cars raced in 1927 before passing into the hands of Sir Malcolm Campbell, Lord Howe and then Dick Seaman who was regarded as one of the best pre-war drivers.
Seaman’s mechanic Ramponi then modified the car greatly and even more astonishing was the fact this car, 9 & 10 years later was defeating cars of the new era 1936-1937.
“So we are thrilled after all these years to play a small part in the Delage history,’’ Stanton said.
Auto Restorations was set up in Christchurch in 1973 by three car enthusiasts with one employee, some of their friends wanted work done so they took on a wood worker, then an engineer and it grew from there.
Thirty three years later they have worked on more than 8000 jobs, employ 28 people and many of their projects are from off-shore. The original shareholders, Bill Clark, Gavin Bain and Leon Witte, are still with the company along with the Pidgeon family.
The majority of cars have been restored for clients living in Australia, Japan, the US, Europe and England. Clients have raced their cars in historic events and shown them at shows around the world.
Some of the finest cars they have restored include Aston Martin, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, OSCA and Maserati.
Other special cars they have worked on include Bugatti, Stutz, Cadillac, Vauxhall, Bentley, Sunbeam, Delahaye, Talbot Lago, Rolls Royce, Pierce Arrow and Jaguar.