Based initially at Tours and from 1906 in Paris, Delahaye built its first automobile in 1894 and soon branched out into commercial vehicle manufacture. Up to the mid-1930s its products tended to be rather lacklustre but then in 1935 came the first of a new generation which would change the marque's image forever: the T135 Coupe Des Alpes. A fine sporting car, the T135 was powered by an engine which, although designed for car use, had first appeared in a Delahaye commercial vehicle. The 3.2-litre, six-cylinder, overhead-valve unit produced 110bhp on triple Solex carburettors, while the chassis featured transverse-leaf independent front suspension, four-speed synchromesh or Cotal gearboxes, centre-lock wire wheels and Bendix brakes.
Delahaye improved on the formula the following year with the 3,557cc, 120/130bhp T135MS, and the sports version was soon making a name for itself in competitions, taking 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th places in the run-to-sportscar-regulations 1936 French Grand Prix and winning the Monte Carlo Rally and Le Mans 24-Hour Race outright in 1939. In England, Prince Bira contested the 1938 Donington 12-Hour Sports Car Race in Prince Chula's example, winning the event and the same car going on to take victory in Brooklands' 'fastest road car in England' race against some formidable opposition. The model reappeared post-WW2 as the 135M with the 3.6-litre engine and lasted in production until 1951.
A desirable 135M model, chassis number '801428' is said to be one of only five surviving out of eight built with this particular style of coachwork. Right-hand drive like many high quality French cars of the period, it has the Cotal semi-automatic gearbox and is finished in blue with grey leather interior. This wonderfully original car was delivered new to its first owner in Marseille, South of France where it remained for most of its life before being acquired by Monsieur Lucien Penard of Crigny, Central France. '801428' has spent the last few years in Germany, seeing only occasional use. The body was repainted nearly 40 years ago in the original colour, and the car retains its original grey leather interior. The drive train was completely rebuilt circa 20 years ago, the engine being painstakingly detailed, while in 2011 the Delahaye underwent a thorough tune-up in a specialist restoration workshop in Germany at a cost of 3,000 (approximately £2,300). More recently the car has benefited from attention to the electrical system and carburettors by respected Delahaye specialist I S Polson.
In November 2012 the car was offered for sale at Bonhams' Harrogate auction where it was purchased by the current vendor (Lot 533). Since then various improvements have been carried out including a full bare metal re-spray at a cost of circa £6,500 (invoice on file) and the installation of a new clutch and flywheel at a cost of circa £5,000 (invoice on file) this latter work was also being carried out by I S Polson. Boasting the powerful triple-carburettor engine and smooth changing Cotal gearbox, this beautiful French thoroughbred is offered with current MoT and sundry invoices for recent work. Said to run and drive nicely, it is only being sold because the vendor has run out of space.