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Peugeot 402 Darl'mat Roadster by Pourtout, #400247, 1938

  • A simple, and rather prosperous tripart production chain gave birth to this exceptional series of small-capacity sports-racing cars. Peugeot produced the chassis, then shipped it to Emile Darl'mat, a Parisian dealer who had, since before the Great War, produced his own series of uprated cars. Darl'mat kitted out the chassis and drivetrain for sports and competition, adding among other devices a Cotal electromagnetic 4-speed preselector gearbox. Darl'mat then passed the car along to the styling house of Marcel Pourtout, who at the time employed Georges Paulin, for the fitment of lithe coachwork.
  • Through the development of his many specials, Mssr. Emile's association with the factory became so close that Peugeot accepted his tinkering and tradesmanship with full support. This particular series represented a wish to revive Peugeot's name within contemporary racing circles—in short, to produce a fantastic touring machine similar in spirit to great sports cars from the likes of Bugatti and Delahaye. Emile Darl'mat first chose to mate the smaller, lighter chassis of the 302 with the stronger 2-litre motor from the 402. In turn, Peugeot created a factory 402 Légère specification that did exactly as Darl'mat had done, matching the 302 chassis with 402 drivetrain, thus giving the small custom concern a platform that needed one fewer major modification. In time, Peugeot themselves even referred to the series as the 402 Darl'mat.
  • Of the coachwork, the combination of a minimalist roadster body on what is actually a medium-size saloon car chassis creates a rather long wheelbase. The whimsical shape is the creation of Georges Paulin, a dentist with a fascination for kinetic design who penned a number of ingenious trappings for small-production European cars. The 402 Darl'mat is, perhaps, the quintessential Paulin design; in terms of influence, the Embiricos Bentley 4 ¼ litre Coupe may have created something of a legacy, but the Peugeot is certainly a car closer to home.
  • Differences between the 402 and its sporting contemporaries include the use of steel and cast iron, whereas aluminimum would have replaced either throughout the body and the motor. The 402 also retains a wood frame, made of ash, to which the body is nailed directly. Darl'mat fitted dual carburetors and that Cotal preselector gearbox, which was popular with racing drivers of the time, but an interesting note about the latter is that the gear selector is mounted in the dashboard. Most applications of preselector gearboxes use a small device mounted on the steering column. But, in Georges Paulin's world of perfect design, it seems no such clutter would be tolerated.


Last Updated: Aug 19, 2017