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    $38m GTO: All the Drama, Surprises and Head-Scratchers from Monterey's $464m Week

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1952 peugeot darl mat sedan


In 1936, a Paris dentist, Dr. Paulin, with help from a Peugeot dealer, Emile Darl’Mat, conceived and built a sports car based on the Peugeot 302. Named the Peugeot 302 DS (for Darl’Mat Sport), it was offered in three body styles: coupe, cabriolet and roadster. In 1937, three or four lightweight alloy roadsters were produced and entered at Le Mans, where they surprisingly finished 7th, 8th and 10th overall.
About 104 “street” examples of the DS were produced, and fewer than 40 survive, with 8 to 10 in the US.
During WWII, the Gestapo killed Dr. Paulin, but Emile Darl’Mat survived and was eager to start building cars again. Peugeot was producing a spiffy 203, powered by a well-developed hemi-head. Unfortunately, the 203 was of monocoque construction, which eliminated the implementation of an all Darl’Mat body.
In its 203-model line-up, Peugeot offered three body styles: cabriolet, two-door coupe and four-door sedan. Darl’Mat also offered versions of all three of these, with visual modifications being new fenders, front grille, moldings and a rather stylized trunk cover.
Some cars were allocated to Darl’Mat directly from the factory, and carried Darl’Mat plate and numbers. A few bought their cars new from Peugeot, and brought them to Darl’Mat for their transformation (just as Alfa owners would bring Giulietta Sprints to Zagato to have them transformed into SVZs). The cars that were transformed by Darl’Mat carried a Peugeot plate and numbers. At the time, there was no difference between the two types; no one cared what was written on the small brass plate on the firewall. But today’s collectors, with their self-righteous noses high in the air, consider the Peugeot-plate cars the black sheep of the family. How silly we are sometimes.

{analysis}{auto}695{/auto} The car shown here, properly called a 1952 Peugeot Darl’Mat Sedan, sold for a world record price of $22,410, including buyer’s premium, at the Barrett-Jackson Petersen Museum auction on June 16, 2001. This particular model is so obscure that it gives appraisers nightmares, and any price at which it sells is a new market price.







The car offered here was a “plain vanilla” four-door, with single Solex and Peugeot chassis plate, converted by Darl’Mat. I first drove and examined it in the mid-nineties. The owner was a charming gentleman named Stanley Tillis, who lived in Orange County, and had a brace of interesting pre- and postwar Peugeots. The car pictured here was his, it was the very first car that he restored and collected, and it was not for sale. The car drove as well as any 203 sedan that I have ever driven.
A year or so later, I called Mr. Tillis and inquired if the 203 might be for sale. Yes, he said, but not for a penny less than $35k. I concluded that he really did not want to sell the car, and after few social pleasantries, I rung off. That was the last time I talked to Mr. Tillis. A couple of years ago, I herd that he had passed away, and that one of his heirs was selling the collection. I was offered the 203 for $20k, and declined. At the beginning of this year, the 203 appeared at local auction with no reserve. A friendly and very brave dealer bought it in the $10k range.
At Barrett-Jackson/Petersen, I reacquainted myself with my old friend, this 203 Darl’Mat Sedan. I also saw my dealer acquaintance, who had bought it at the previous auction, and wished him luck. I was sure that the car would not sell, or at least would not bring more that $11k. The final price of $22,410 surprised all of us, and shows what can happen to even the most obscure of cars when an auction company brings two motivated bidders into the same room.
The new owner will be the hit of any Bastille Day car club meet, and won’t ever have to face the multi-thousand dollar mechanical repair bills that Ferrari owners seem to be so proud of (if they’re not, then why do we keep hearing about them?). While the price made was much more than I expected, it proved once again that an item, any item, on any given day, is worth exactly as much as two people (the high bidder and underbidder) want to pay for it.—Raymond Milo
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