Rare Delahaye Le Mans Survivor Buzzes into Bonhams Monaco Sale

A rare 1936 Delahaye 135 S Compétition Court racing car, known as 'Buzz II' which campaigned in 1930s endurance races including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, will be offered in Bonhams The Monaco Sale 'Les Grandes Marques à Monaco' when the auction house returns to the principality on 23 April, during the weekend of the Monaco Historic Grand Prix (23 – 25 April). It carries an estimate of €800,000 – 1,100,000.

Known for success in races and in concours d'elegances away from the track, the Delahaye 135 was one of the all-time great sporting motor cars of the pre-war period.

The French marque's successes were in part due to the efforts of Irish American heiress Lucy Schell. A former racing driver, Schell became the first female motorsport team owner, with her finest hour coming at the 1938 Pau Grand Prix, when her semi-works Delahaye team trounced the seemingly unbeatable Mercedes team to take the chequered flag.

Two years earlier, Schell purchased the 135 S now offered by Bonhams, which made its debut on track at the 1936 'Three Hours of Marseille' endurance race 1936 as part of Écurie Bleu, her three-car semi-works team. The cars' sky-blue paintwork, the French national colour, together with the muffled 'buzzing' sound of their engines earned them the nickname Blue Buzz'.

This car, Blue Buzz II, competed in pre-war Grand Prix races at Donington, Pau and Commiges and endurance races such as the Belfast Tourist-Trophy before its greatest challenge, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1939. That same year, the Delahaye was rebodied in a more aerodynamic style by the respected coachbuilders Chappes Frères.

Following two subsequent 'face lifts' in the intervening years, the 135 S is now offered with coachwork in the style of the Chappes Frères bodyshell, retaining its original period running gear, engine and, most importantly, the original chassis – which is a rarity for a racing car of this period. Naturally, the Delahaye is eligible for the 2021 Le Mans Classic due to take place from 1 – 4 July among a host of world-class vintage racing and concours events.

1949 Simca Deho Barquette, Coachwork by Motto, estimate €190,000-240,000
Also eligible for the Le Mans Classic is this 1949 Simca barchetta, the creation of racing driver Jean Estager. He decided to transform a Simca Eight classic into a race car with a 1086cc engine prepared by Simca specialist Roger Deho and a hand-shaped aluminium body by renowned Milan based coachbuilder Motto.

The car was sold in 1951 with its new owner wasting no time in entering it into the Le Mans 24 Hour Race. Despite being entered with number 74 and drivers Dblon-Daguet, the car failed to make the start line, but redeemed itself participating in various sporting events in the early 1950s, notably at Montlhéry in 1953.

The barchetta was rediscovered in the early 2000s as a barn find, but still retaining its original chassis and engine. Its next owner, an important Delahaye collector, embarked on a full restoration of the car, although keeping the interior of the driver's door in its original condition as a reminder of how it was found.

Another important post-war competition car, a 1947 Cisitalia D46 Monoposto, will also cross the block in the Monaco Sale, with an estimate of €150,000 – 200,000. The renowned Italian marque was established by industrialist Piero Dusio who wanted to bring back motor racing to the post-war world. His travelling Cisitalia fleet featured the period's greatest drivers such as Nuvolari, Ascari and Chiron contesting races around Europe and the wider world in these monoposto open-wheel racing cars which introduced the innovative spaceframe chassis.

This rare motor car was one of 14 examples built, of which 12 are known to survive, and is believed to be the ex-Grand Prix de Bern car, number 48, driven by Harry Schell, the first American driver to start a Grand Prix race and the son of Lucy Schell.

Early custodians included the Horschell Racing Corporation, Écurie de Paris and a succession of Australian sports car racers, before it was bought by Belgian racing driver Paul Swaelens who kept it for more than 40 years. Purchased by the vendor in 2003, this authentic Cisitalia has been fully restored, using its original engine and chassis, and is eligible for a host of prestigious events worldwide.

The Bonhams Monaco Sale will be staged in the principality as a Live and Online auction on 23 April at the Fairmont Monte-Carlo overlooking the famous hairpin bend of the Monaco Grand Prix circuit, which will host the Monaco Historic Grand Prix over the same weekend.

Bonhams Head of EU Motor Cars Philip Kantor said 'We are greatly looking forward to returning to Monte-Carlo for Les Grandes Marques à Monaco Sale. As ever, we will present an exciting array of cars ranging from Le Mans participants from the 30s to a Ferrari tailor-made for a member of the family. Particular note must be made of the Delahaye 135S and Simca Deho Barquette - both extremely rare and eligible for the Le Mans Classic this year, and worthy of the great racing heritage of Monaco where the sale takes place.'

1991 Isdera Imperator 108i, estimate €500,000 – 700,000

Leading the charge of exclusive and exotic road cars which would surely be at home parked in front of the Casino de Monte-Carlo is a gullwinged supercar rarity – a 1991 Isdera Imperator 108i, estimate €500,000 – 700,000.

The Imperator was the realisation of the Mercedes-Benz design experiment of the late 1970s. Engineer Eberhard Schulz, who headed the original concept design team, formed Isdera to build his own supercars.

The 30 examples produced over nine years remained true to the original simple concept. Super-lightweight striking gullwing coachwork on a tubular steel chassis married with outrageous power from the highly-regarded Mercedes-Benz 5-litre M119 V8 engine, resulted in unrivalled performance for its time, with a top speed of 275km/h and an acceleration from 0 to 100km/h in five seconds.

The motor car offered is finished in traditional Silver Arrows paintwork, emphasising the wedge-shaped lines, with contrasting black leather interior.

1983 Ferrari 400GTI 2+2 Coupé, estimate €65,000 – 95,000

Another early consignment to this prestigious sale is a 1983 Ferrari 400GTi 2+2 Coupé, delivered new to Piero Lardi Ferrari, son of founder Enzo and vice chairman of the company, produced to his own specification, the only example to feature a third seat on the rear bench. It has an estimate of €65,000 – 95,000 with no reserve.

Further highlights:

1973 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS, estimate €300,000 – 350,000
A very original example of the open-top targa version, in a highly-desirable colour scheme, of this celebrated mid-engined sportscar named after Enzo Ferrari's eldest son and designed by Pininfarina.

1968 Citroën DS21 Décapotable, estimate €160,000 – 200,000
A rare cabriolet example of this famously futuristic Citroën featuring the semi-automatic transmission and built by lauded French coachbuilder Henri Chapron.


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