It’s difficult to imagine that just decades before they produced incredible automobiles like this 1938 302DS Darl’Mat Cabriolet, Peugeot was manufacturing coffee mills and bicycles.
Part of the Mullin Automotive Museum’s collection, they detail an interesting history of this cabriolet, which belonged to Emile Darl’Mat, one of Peugeot’s largest and most influential dealers of the 1930s.
Trained as an automobile mechanic, Darl’Mat opened his own garage in 1921 which soon became a dealership for Peugeot and Panhard. By 1930, he exclusively sold Peugeots. He fine tuned and then personalized each car he sold, boasting that he wanted them to “perform like a race car at the price of a regular touring car.”
With persistent efforts and strong sales, he eventually won support for a special line from the Peuegeot factory and secured collaboration from coachbuilder Marcel Pourtout. Peugeot built the chassis, Darl’mat installed the mechanical upgrades, and did the final tuning, while Pourtout built the coachwork.
Peugeot Darl’Mat Grenelle exists today and is still among the top three Peugeot dealerships in Paris.
At the 1937 Le Mans 24 Hours, the Peugeot Darl’Mats finished 7th, 8th, and 9th. The following year, three entered and the top Darl’Mat won the 2 litre class and came in 5th overall. This strong performance rebuilt Peugeot’s reputation on the racetrack and bolstered sales.
This car is one of the rare cabriolets – only 27 still exist. Born in 1892, Darl’Mat achieved his greatest success in the 1930s. Cars like these help transport us back in time, to the heyday of the art deco era. Darl’Mat died in 1970, and we can only wonder what his opinions were about the transformation of the automobile during his lifetime.