DELAHAYE VLR No 07821
|In June 2001 I visited an MVT
show at Thruxton near Andover with no thoughts of owning a second
jeep or becoming involved in a challenging restoration project
but my passion for French jeeps born of owning an M201 was about
to change all of this. In the display lines on the first day I
was amazed to see a Delahaye VLR. I had read about them and seen
photos in books but never dreamt that I would actually ever see
one in the UK or come to own one. The second surprise came the
following day when a card in the windscreen announced that it was
for sale. The chance to actually own a Delahaye seemed almost too
good to be true but there was some serious talking to do with the
owner and also some serious thinking to be done. Up until this
point in time I had never really considered the complete
restoration of a vehicle to be a practical proposition.
On the plus side it had been dry stored in a barn for many years and had made a brief return to the road a year earlier having had the brakes sorted out. The chassis was good but showed the scars from some serious off-road use in the past. There was a fair amount of rust but it had only perforated the body in a few places. On the down side spares would be unobtainable here and difficult to obtain even in France. Various oil leaks from the engine and dry sump reservoir had recently been joined by a really major leak from the transmission. The gearbox was very noisy, particularly in top and the clutch was absolutely awful. Despite all this I decided to take the vehicle on as a project and bought it.
My first objective was to carry out all of the work that required a lot of space while the weather was warm enough to work on the vehicle outside on the drive. During the winter months work was carried out in my garage which was built to house a family car and little more so it was necessary to work my way round section by section. Although an inefficient way of doing things it did somehow make the whole task more seem more manageable. I could see progress being made which in turn maintained the motivation to continue. It rolled out of the garage in February 2002, still not quite complete but looking a lot better than it had done when I first purchased it as the photos below show.
Over the next couple of months the finishing touches were added like making a jerrycan bracket as I had been unable to track one down in France. By June the jeep was pretty much complete and ready for showing.
I did take the jeep back to the Thruxton show in June 2002 (sorry no photos - it just kept on raining all weekend). It received much attention and favourable comment, not least of which came from the judges in awarding it best post-war vehicle in the show.
During Spring 2003 I made contact with Laurent, a VLR owner in France, who helped me source some of the missing parts that I was still looking for. These included the rubber windscreen buffers for the bonnet, the horn button unit for the centre of the steering wheel and two original style 24volt ignition coils. Other hard to find parts he located included repair kits for the fuel pump and carburettor, clutch plate, wire mesh oil filter, and rear lamp unit. Does anyone know where I can get a genuine jerrycan bracket??
Special thanks to Daniel Stoll, a VLRD owner in France, for providing technical assistance via the Internet as and when I needed it during the restoration, to Laurent for his invaluable help locating missing bits and also to my wife, Alison, for her encouragement to go for it from the start and her support throughout the project.
The VLR is slightly larger overall and heavier than the M201 as illustrated is illustrated below.