A Mulhouse masterpiece

17 January 2022
Sharing a gorgeous model of a very special French racer - the Peugeot 203 Dillmann Special

Many automobile enthusiasts know Mulhouse in the south of Alsace, famous for its museum that includes the Schlumpf collection. But, for a long time, the city was also a big industrial centre, and makes for stories of a lot of lesser-known automotive names, including companies like Sté Ducommun, which manufactured vehicles at the beginning of the 20th century.

An era of small geniuses

Many garages and mechanical workshops were to be found there and Roger Dillmann was one of these. One of his specialities was improving engines and many enthusiasts of performance cars were his customers.

He himself was tempted to compete, but with only limited means, he created his own racing car from a Peugeot 203 convertible. Highly modified, it was lowered and fitted with a compressor, which increased the power from 50 to 95 hp. Dillmann had some success in local hill climb races, but the compressor put a strain on the mechanicals and it often had to be repaired. At the turn of the 1960s, cars like Abarth or Alpine began to race and Roger Dillmann's 203 was no longer competitive.

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The one we thought had disappeared

The car was hidden away for more than 40 years, but was found at the premises of one of Dillmann’s former mechanics, who could not bring himself to scrap it. Thank goodness!

In the Dillmann family, the mechanical talent was passed from father to son. Gérard had already been credited with the restoration of several cars. He decided to restore the 203 in homage to his father. The result is magnificent and was unveiled at a show in Mulhouse, in 2018.

The Mulhouse 1/43 scale club, started in 1976, organises one of the largest swap-meets in France and regularly produces exclusive limited edition models for its members and a few external clients. It just so happens that the club had a stand at this show and representatives were wowed by this important part of their city's automotive heritage.

The Dillmann special in miniature

With the agreement of Gérard Dillmann, his beautifully restored 203 was measured and photographed from all angles and the miniaturisation was entrusted to a specialised craftsman.

At the end of 2019, the limited run of 150 numbered copies was delivered. All the models quickly found buyers because Peugeot models are very popular thanks to the proximity of the factory, near Mulhouse, and the Peugeot Museum in Sochaux.