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About quiz #438: a 1922 DFP 12/40

About quiz #438 Fast and faithful, but not so glorious
About quiz #438 Fast and faithful, but not so glorious

Apparently the car brand of last Saturday’s quiz #438 ( was not that difficult, we received several good answers. The car’s brand was D.F.P., short for Doriot, Flandrin et Parant.

Near Paris, at 169 Boulevard Saint-Denis, Courbevoie, Seine, next to La Défense, Auguste Doriot and Ludovic Flandrin founded Doriot Flandrin et Cie Both had worked for Peugeot and then Clément-Bayard, before setting up their own car making company in 1906. In 1908 they were joined by Alexandre and Jules-René Parant, who brought new capital, and a new company was formed including all the names. D.F.P. started to make their own engines in 1912.

The story about D.F.P. is an interesting one, and the maximum of 100 words for your solution of the quiz was far too limited to describe the whole history. If you want to read the whole story, there are several sources on the internet.

Fast and faithful
The winner of our quiz had to be “fast and faithful”, and also glorious. Yes, Philippe De Smet, a bonus point for you. D.F.P.’s motto "fidèle et vite" means “fast and faithful” in English. This motto was also inscribed on the badge, which also features a greyhound.

Bentley and alloy pistons
As mentioned in the quiz: “Thanks to a certain innovative dealer, that could make the cars faster than they originally were and raced with them. For the makers it was a pity that the same dealer decided to build his own cars after 1919, inspired by the makers ‘car.”  

D.F.P. is perhaps mostly remembered by the reflected glory of W.O. Bentley’s association with the firm, whose representative he was in the pre-1914 days. Mike Costigan had the most complete phrase about the involvement of the Bentley brothers: “The UK Agent G A Lecoq was bought out by the Bentley brothers in April 1912 when the main product was the 4-cylinder 12/15. W O Bentley campaigned a 12/15 tuned by D.F.P. mechanic Leroux, winning his class at the 1912 Aston Clinton hill climb. W O then persuaded Doriot, against his advice, to fit alloy pistons produced by the Corbin Foundry to create the 12/40 Speed Model, which he successfully raced at Brooklands (flying 1/2 mile at 89.7mph) and at the Isle of Man TT race (6th overall).”

No one mentioned the funny story about the alloy paperweight, though. W. O. Bentley visited Doriot at Courbevoie in 1913. On the Frenchman's desk stood a novelty paperweight from the Corbin foundry: it was a tiny piston made from aluminium. Against Doriot's advice, Bentley had a set of 12/15 pistons cast in aluminium alloy, raised the compression ratio and found an immediate improvement in the power output. This was not the first time aluminium pistons had been used on a car - "Professor" Archibald Montgomery Low, the "father of radio guidance systems" had fitted them to his Gregoire - but the idea was still extremely novel.

Thanks to the Bentley brothers, sales of D.F.P. on the English market were satisfactory until the war. After the war, the French brand lost its footing on the British market.

Walter Owen Bentley, who always wanted to design and build his own cars, registered in August 1919 Bentley Motors Ltd., and exhibited in October a car chassis, with dummy engine, at the London Motor Show. Followed by the famous 3 Litres in 1921, a car largely inspired by the DFP. H.M. Bentley kept selling D.F.P.’s in the UK until 1923, and then Ward & Driskell took over.

The last scrap
The company's small resources did not allow them to, D.F.P. was marketing models equipped with mechanics designed by others as in its early days. In 1919, the new 12/40 hp is presented, equipped with a 2-litre Alto engine and brakes on all four wheels. Together with a new 10/12 with a Sargant (later American) engine, they replaced the illustrious models before the war.

In 1923 they started to make their own engines again fitting them to the 1924 cc 13/50 model. A new light car was also introduced as the D.F. Petite with 1098 cc made by C.I.M.E.. At PWC, we earlier placed this article about an engine built by CIME (CIME, La Compagnie Industrielle des Moteurs a Explosion) for a DFP type 7cv 4cyl 1098cc.

Soon the famous magazine Omnia attributed to DFP the nickname of the "la Dernière Ferraille Parue" (“The last or latest presented metal scrap”). A few competitors, like John Elema, D. Macnab and Jonathan Kinghorn mentioned the nickname "la Dernière Ferraille Parissienne", without the link to the Omnia magazine.  Whether the “P” stands for “Parue” or “Parisiennne” we cannot recall, but both sound plausible.

After that, D.F.P. went into a rapid decline. All production finished in 1926 and the factory was sold to light car maker Lafitte, but they in turn closed in 1928. The last DFP left the factory in 1933. Why that took so long will ever be a mystery, I presume.

The winner
Besides the brand name and some of the above information, the winner had to have the type name correct. That was the point where many of you guessed wrong. It was not a 10/12 as many guessed, it was a 1922 12/40 with an "Alto" 4-cylinder 2.0-litre. Bore and stroke: 70 x 130 mm. Valves: side. Wheelbase 9’ 7½”. Forward speeds: 4. Final drive ratio: 4.25 to 1. Tyres: 765 x 105.

The fastest competitor was Judge Marc Fellman, but this quiz is not about speed alone. Overall winner is Mike Costigan, he was not only “fast”, but also “ faithful” and the most complete in his answer. Congratulations Mike!


Pictures of the DFP 12/40hp Tourist Trophy Speed Model courtesy of H and H Auctioneers

Pictures of the 1924 D.F.P. ADM 2000 by jean-pierre 60 (

Text: Marius Hille Ris Lambers, Onestop Photo (

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