c.1949 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet (Restoration project)  Chassis no. See text Engine no. 800816

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Lot 272
c.1949 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet (Restoration project)
Chassis no. See text Engine no. 800816

Sold for AU$ 55,200 (US$ 38,531) inc. premium
c.1949 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet (Restoration project)
Chassis no. See text
Engine no. 800816
Based initially at Tours and from 1906 in Paris, Delahaye built its first automobile in 1894 and soon branched out into commercial vehicle manufacture. Founder Emile Delahaye designed the cars and drove them in competitions during the firm's formative years before retiring in 1901 when Charles Weiffenbach – 'Monsieur Charles' – took over as Director. Amédée Varlet served as Delahaye's chief designer from then onwards, being responsible for its marine engines as well as those intended for road use. At this time the name of Delahaye was as renowned on water as on land. The sport of motor boat racing was dominated by Delahaye-powered craft, one of which established a new World Speed Record of 54.50km/h (33.84mph). There proved to be little profit in this enterprise however, and the firm redirected its attention exclusively to road transport, greatly expanding its range of commercial vehicle types.

Up to the mid-1930s Delahaye's products tended to be rather lacklustre, but then in 1935 came the first of a new generation that would change the marque's image forever - the T135 Coupe Des Alpes.

Designed by Varlet's successor Jean François, the T135 was a fine sporting car, albeit one which, somewhat paradoxically, borrowed its engine from one of its maker's trucks. The 3.2-litre, six-cylinder, overhead-valve unit produced 110bhp on triple Solex carburettors while the under-slung chassis featured transverse leaf independent front suspension, four-speed synchromesh or Cotal gearboxes, centre-lock wire wheels and large Bendix brakes.

Delahaye improved on the formula the following year with the 3.6-litre, 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 1937 and 1938 respectively. The model reappeared post-WW2 as the 135M with the 3.6-litre engine and lasted in production until superseded by the 235 in 1951. Relatively few Delahayes were sold after WW2, the result of France's punitive taxation rates for large cars. By 1954 the situation had become untenable and Delahaye merged with Hotchkiss, producing nothing but trucks thereafter.

Without doubt, the 135 transformed Delahaye's image and thus attracted the attention of France's finest coachbuilders, and many of their works on this chassis are among the most striking examples of automotive art of the period. Production records were lost during WW2 but it is believed that only 2,000-or-so examples of the 135/235 family were made, the greater majority during the late 1930s.

Offered for sale here is a Delahaye 135M restoration project with fantastic potential. With no serial number plate or stamping on the frame itself, the only identifying mark on the car is on the engine block. The car is in largely complete condition, with all the major mechanical components present including the engine and Cotal gearbox. The car was rebodied some time ago by local coachbuilder Stan Brown as a two-seater convertible styled along the lines of Figoni & Falaschi, Chapron et al. Notable features include a wind-down windscreen and hood recessed under a folding panel. Several boxes of associated parts accompany the Delahaye, including instruments and a steering wheel and the car is to be sold strictly as viewed.
c.1949 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet (Restoration project)  Chassis no. See text Engine no. 800816
c.1949 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet (Restoration project)  Chassis no. See text Engine no. 800816
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