Start your day with a Delahaye: C’est une VLR, a Véhicule Léger de Reconnaissance! A light reconnaissance vehicle. And it’s amazing to see the French have such a name for creating so many great designs as this was clearly, nothing more than, a copy of that small military car that helped liberating Europe a few years earlier. When it comes to it’s looks that is.
Prior to the war Delahaye only made luxury cars but after the war the demand for that was little. Especially in France in which luxury cars were heavily taxed and the government decided which company got raw materials in the first place. So Delahaye did what every sound thinking company did: Try to win a government contract for something automotive.
After WWII lots of allied material was left behind for the local armies to use. Often in not that great shape, you can imagine the war-situation not to be a really good environment for a car to act in. So in 1947 Delahaye actually won a contract to create the VLRD (with the D for Delahaye).
Two prototypes were presented to the DEFA (Direction des Etudes et Fabrications d’Armement, the test-organisation of the French army). One using an engine designed by Delahaye themselves, and another using a Renault powerplant. After those DEFA tests some changes/decisions were made.
The engine used would be Delahaye’s own Type 182 engine, a 2 liter 4 cylinder putting out 63hp. As it was no leightweight (1400 kgs!) hardly any speed was reached, barely 100 km/h (60 mph).
A 4 speed transmission was mounted and by installing a separate auxiliary transmission both low and high gearing were offered. A locking differential was standard and suspension was independent on all 4 wheels.
The 1st of August 1950 the VLR (Model 51) was homologated for military use so Delayahe started producing it early 1951. All those nifty features were not entirely capable of the abuse by the army, blocking differentials often led to accidents and damage to the transmission.
After all complaints and producing 9,621 units (some for private use but that wasn’t a success either as many GP’s were still available for next to nothing) Delahaye did a quick redesign and proposed the Model 53 but it was too late already: The army didn’t have any faith in the solutions and ended up at Delahaye’s competitor Hotchkiss. And bought Hotchkiss’s M201.
If you ever see such an M201 you’ll never say the Delahaye looked like a Willys Jeep again. Because that M201 truly did! Which isn’t such a surprise if you know it was just a license built Willys...
The model is another 1/43 Altaya. It has the somewhat sad face the 1:1 has and with a simple car to be based on in the first place: What can go wrong? Maybe the tubing of that frame of the tent is somewhat too thick and the blinkers and rearlights is just paint, that’s it. Okay, that grille is just a sticker or tampo and not real mesh. And I don’t get that 1949 on that base. But... 10 Euros.
C’est ca! I’m sure one of you guys has a Willys Jeep so if you want to join in on the French Friday fun but are out of French cars there’s your solution! Bon Week-End!