Restored De Dietrich Ready for Chateau Impney Challenge

Wednesday 15 April 2015

A painstaking, decade-long restoration project will reach its climax this summer when a rare Edwardian classic takes part in the Chateau Impney Hill Climb.

The recently completed 1909 Lorraine De Dietrich, restored and driven by VSCC member Richard Scaldwell, will compete in the Edwardian and Veteran Cars class, taking on a stellar line-up of cars that includes the Piccard-Pictet and the Métallurgique Maybach Special.

A car restorer by trade, Richard has been rebuilding the regal 16.5 litre, four-cylinder De Dietrich for the last ten years from the bare bones of a salvaged De Dietrich. A labour of love, the car is a hybrid of Edwardian Franco-German engineering that Richard has spent the last decade seeking out and crafting additional parts for.

The history of the De Dietrich name has been linked to one family across Europe for more than three centuries. The company was mainly concerned with cast iron production and latterly railway rolling stock, with production split across two plants at Luneville, Lorraine and Niederbronn, Alsace, following the Franco-Prussian war in 1870.  De Dietrich entered automobile manufacturing in 1896 but the foray was short-lived, as car production ceased in Alsace in 1905 when the company resumed its focus on mechanical construction and engineering. The newly independent French factory went on to build the Lorraine marque for only another three decades. The fact that the cars were produced during such a short period makes Richard’s example especially rare, and its debut at Chateau Impney all the more special.

In period, the marque's reputation was built upon its consistent competition record as the factory was keen to prove its cars in competition. One of the De Dietrich’s most prominent exponents was American, turned French, racing driver Arthur Duray, who was very involved with the development of the race cars and Richard’s car is typical of the cars he was experimenting with between 1906 and 1909. Duray was also famous for his 1911 land speed record attempt in the Fiat S76, better known as the Beast of Turin.

Some of De Dietrich’s highlights during its history included third place in the 1903 Paris-Madrid Rally for British racing driver Charles Jarrott, as well as two victories for Lorraine sports cars in the Le Mans 24-hours race in the 1920s.

As well as being known for his restoration work, Richard has been a keen competitor on the historic motorsport scene for the last 25 years, and is well known for driving the 5.1 litre Jap-engined GN Grand Prix Special at the majority of the country’s top venues including Shelsley Walsh, Prescott and Loton Park. Negotiating the Hill Climb course in the De Dietrich will be a very different experience however, as the Edwardian behemoth weighs more than twice the GN Jap and will be a real test of his driving expertise. Richard is confident, however, that the car will still hold its own and achieve a respectable time on the day.

  • De Dietrich, Chateau Impney Hill Climb, Droitwich
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