Our car is one of only 3 built specifically for the 1938 Le Mans race, with many special features that differentiate it from the road-going version.
Peugeot had a brilliant racing career during its first two decades of operation, then they gave it up. Emile Darl’mat was a successful representative for the marque in the 1930s who collaborated with coachbuilder Marcel Pourtout to produce some interesting designs. Peugeot hired Georges Paulin as a works designer, and shortly after the launch of the sporty 302 chassis, Pourtout and Paulin collaborated to effect Darl’mat’s dream of a racing car based on the 302 and later 402 chassis. They sold a small run of steel- bodied specials with conventional transmissions to the public with Darl’mat’s badge. Paulin’s wooden model was aerodynamically tested, resulting in the streamlined low-body creation, with twee art deco circular vents that increased in size along the side of the engine bay. These kickshaws became recognizable on all the +-100 cars built, mostly in a roadster but also in cabriolet and hard-top coupe form.
For 1937, they made three cars for Le Mans with special features, including all-aluminum body construction, no doors, low-set driving lights below the headlights, and the protruding jack mounts for rapid elevation of the entire front end. All these three cars finished the race. For 1938 three more, now labeled 402, entered and one won the coveted Le Mans Index of Performance prize. All the sports racers used the driver-preferred electromagnetic Cotal gearbox.
Although the exact racing history of this car cannot be determined, its subsequent provenance has been documented. It is a racing model that characterized by an all aluminum body, dual carburetors (though not original) and dual exhaust system, low set driving lights, cutouts for frontal jacking points, a special Cotal gearbox, driver side tachometer, original bucket seats, etcetera. There are no external features which would show which of the three Le Mans cars we have. Referring to a 1985 article in LaVie Auto, we have quotations from one-time owner Paul Wilson, an avid collector and admirer of great racing cars. He writes about his previous conversations with past owners. “It seems that in 1955, American Solider Phil Mast saw the car in a garage in Bordeaux. It was painted light blue, with numbers on each side, and he was told that it was one of the Fameuses Voitures du Mans. After bringing the car home, Mast repainted it and, sadly, replaced the racing carburetors (these are the very rare Memini which I have been unable to find).”
The car was later seen in Washington, DC and ultimately purchased by Paul’s friend, Tom Pollack. Between 1966 and 1967, Tom gradually restored the entire car except for the motor because he had a limited time to work. In 1983, he turned the restoration over to Paul who finished the job including the engine and the chassis and planned to take it to Le Mans in the 1987 for the 50th anniversary of the great Peugeot Le Mans racers. Sadly, Paul did not have the funds for the transatlantic trip. He recalls this car fondly and in time he passed it on. We reinstalled dual carburetors, and put her into running condition, but things like the instruments, dash panel, upholstery, did not get refurbished.