Werrangourt Archive 11: DFP ‘The Greyhound of France’ by Bob King…

Posted: October 1, 2021 in Obscurities, Sports Racers
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
(B King Collection)

John Williams, DFP takes the chequered flag for The Sun, from HW Miller’s similar car for The Herald, in a five lap battle of the Melbourne Motor Editors at Aspendale on June 9, 1924

Fragments on a forgotten make

Mssr. Dorian, Flandrin and the Parant brothers made light cars of no great distinction in Courbevoie (Seine) between 1906 and 1926. Chronically underfunded, they relied on proprietary engines. They are best remembered by the reflected glory from their London agent W. O. Bentley’s use of aluminium pistons in DFP’s which led him to success at Brooklands. WO claimed that the idea to use aluminium pistons came to him in 1913 during a visit to their Parisienne factory. He said they allowed him to obtain ‘much more’ power from the engine – the main advantage being greater thermal efficiency, rather than weight saving. In regard to novelty, it should be noted that Aquila Italiana had been using aluminium pistons from 1906 under the guidance of their talented designer Giulio Cesare Cappa.

‘WO’ in a very smart looking DFP (B King Collection)

Rendering of a similar DFP to WO’s (T Johns Collection)

Whether through ‘reflected glory’, improved performance or clever marketing, the DFP was not an uncommon entrant in post-WWI motor sport in Australia. It seems that the sporting motorist had a love affair with French cars, possibly engendered by their panache. This was distinctly lacking from the majority of Italian and English light cars of the period. It should also be remembered that cars from ‘former enemy’ countries were forbidden to take part in motorsport in the early post-war years– at least in Victoria.

My motoring archive has several splendid photos of DFP’s in action and Mark Bisset felt I should share them with you on primotipo.com

The first race at Aspendale on ANA day, 1906 (J Crooke Collection)

Aspendale

Situated in a sandy bayside suburb of Melbourne, Aspendale Motor Racing Club had a history dating back to the dawn of motoring. James Robert Crooke had a horse racing track built on his father’s land in 1889. The name of the venue played tribute to his champion horse ‘Aspen’, which had won the Newmarket Cup in 1880 and 1881.

Entrepreneurial Crooke had won Australia’s first motor race at Sandown Park in 1904 driving his steam powered Locomobile. By January 1906 they were motor-racing at Aspendale Park on what he claimed to be the world’s first purpose built racing track. After only a few events the track went into hibernation until a new banked concrete/bitumen track was built in 1923. The first event was held on this surface on 1 March 1924.

(J Crooke Collection)

The promoter’s club badge

(J Crooke Collection)

The ACV’s invitation to attend – love the formality of the day, and program, or programme, more correctly!

(J Crooke Collection)
(J Crooke Collection)

The track layout.

John Williams and the DFP at Aspendale

John was a jovial beret-wearing, Gauloise smoking motoring journalist who had a preference for French cars. He was the second owner of a Brescia Bugatti in 1929 and was still driving a Ballot 2LT in post-war years. As Motoring Editor for the Sun News Pictorial and later the Argus, his knowledge of cars was encyclopaedic. He came into our realm through friendship with Lou Molina and attendance at Lou’s Brighton Central Hotel in the 1970s.

John took part in an unusual event at Aspendale on 9 June 1924 – a match-race between the Motor Editors of the Sun and the Herald. Fortunately, photographs survive of this encounter, showing that the drivers were accompanied by their wives. John annotated the back of one photograph, stating that this was the first time that women had travelled as mecaniciennes in a motor race in Australia. John’s wife Pegg is quoted as saying “What a damned row 24,000 people can make!”

(Bob King Collection)

The start of the motoring journalist match-race.

(Bob King Collection)

John and Pegg Williams ensconced in the DFP. Winners are grinners, the rest can make their own arrangements.

Sporting Cars, DFP and Miss Marie Jenkins

If clever marketing contributed to the DFP’s popularity here in Victoria, the responsible party is likely to have been Sporting Cars, the future agents for Bugatti, who used the attractive Marie Jenkins to promote their brand (Sex sells).

Sporting Cars claimed that the DFP had ‘a remarkable reputation for speed, coupled with reliability and hard wear’ – these characteristics being exemplified by the crest and motto on the radiator badge – a greyhound ‘Courant’ under the words ‘Fidele at Vete’.  Marie was often seen in the company of Sporting Cars directors; their relationship has not been established.

(B King Collection)

Marie Jenkins was used to promote the make in this Sporting Cars pamphlet, the rest of it, providing detailed specifications is at the end of this article.

Dudley Barnett, Chenard Walcker, Marie Jenkins DFP and Arthur Terdich Bentley 3-litre, with Maude. 1924 Davies Bay, Victoria (B King Collection)

Marie in her little DFP is dwarfed by Sporting Cars director Dudley Barnett’s Chenard Walcker (left) and Arthur Terdich’s 3-litre Bentley

(G Jarrett)

Marie goes camping, the only thing missing appears to be the kitchen sink! Poor liddl’ darlin’ would have struggled carrying that lot.

(Fairfax)

Here she is, looking rather marvellous, at Sydney’s Maroubra banked, concrete Saucer of Speed in her victorious Brescia Bugatti in 1925.

(B King Collection)

1928 Australian Grand Prix

Two DFPs took part in the 100-Mile Road Race, aka the 1928 Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.

Ab. Terdich was the brother of Arthur whose Bugatti faltered while he was leading the race; he won in 1929. Ab’s DFP retired with engine trouble. The other car shown, driven by Les Pound, had better luck, completing the distance in a little under 2½ hours at an average speed of 41.6 mph, he was thirteenth and last. Les became a well-known name in post-war years as proprietor of Volkswagen dealers, Pound Motors. The Pound DFP is nearing the end of a long restoration.

(B King Collection)

Les Pound made slow progress in the 1928 AGP, but had the satisfaction of completing the distance.

DFP random

Nigel Tait of Repco and ACL fame had an ancestor with a DFP that managed to have an accident in Bourke St, Melbourne in 1915. That must have been hard to achieve – perhaps an errant horse?

(N Tait Collection)
(N Tait Collection)

This Tait family photograph shows the same car (above) which was driven by George McCarey below.

(B King Collection)

I suspect the photo of car with registered number 27277 is being driven by George McCarey in the 1921 RACV 1000-mile Reliability Trial. This was an earlier 2-litre car of the type raced by WO Bentley, rather than the more popular 1.1-litre car which was introduced in 1922.

(T Johns Collection)

Les Pound completes the hill climb at Wheelers Hill with the same DFP he raced in the AGP at Phillip Island in 1928.

(B King Collection)

Doug Benson’s DFP on a bridge over the Kiewa River.

DFP Technical Specifications…

(B King)
(B King)
(B King)
(B King)
(B King)

Credits…

Bob King, John Crooke, Tony Johns and Nigel Tait Collections, Fairfax, Graeme Jarrett

Finito…

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