1. 1947 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet

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Lot Number
37
Coachwork by Carrosserie du Sécheron
1947 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet
Scottsdale Auction

Offered Without Reserve

CHASSIS NO: 800657
• Exhibited new at the 1947 Geneva Salon
• Beautiful “one off” Swiss Coachbuilt example
• 1 of only 4 Delahaye 135M chassis bodied by Sécheron
• Not publicly offered for sale in nearly 30 years
• Known history and roster of caretakers
• Accompanied by excellent documentation including Delivery Note
• An ideal candidate for the most prestigious concours events around the world

3,557 cc OHV inline six-cylinder engine, triple side-draft Solex carburetors, 115 HP, Cotal four-speed preselector gearbox, independent front suspension with transverse leaf spring, live rear axle with quarter-elliptic springs, and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes; wheelbase: 114"


Debuted at the 1935 Paris Salon, the Type 135 marked the dawn of a new era for the venerable Delahaye company along much more sporting lines. Named “Coupe des Alpes” for its early success in the demanding Alpine Rally, the 135 gained immediate fame and profoundly influenced Delahaye’s future designs. Most importantly, it would propel the company through both the pre- and post-WW II years. Careful development begat several 135 variants for the road, including the 135 (Modifié), and 135 MS (Modifié Speciale). Designed by engineer Jean François, the 135’s standard mechanical package was quite advanced, including independent front suspension, Bendix cable-operated brakes, 17-inch center-lock wire wheels, and a choice of a partially-synchronized four-speed manual or Cotal pre-selector gearbox. The 135’s inline six-cylinder engine, initially displacing 3.2 litres, featured modern overhead-valve architecture. Developing 95 horsepower with twin carburetors and 110 with triple Solex downdraft carburetors, this engine was designed for strength and longevity. For 1936, the Type 135 engine was enlarged to 3.6 litres.

Competition versions of the 135 demonstrated uncanny reliability and proved dominant during the late 1930s, despite less peak power than many competitors. Proving the point, Delahaye 135s took 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th at the 1936 French Grand Prix, which was run to sports-car regulations that year. While labor unrest forced cancellation of the Le Mans 24 Hours that year, Delahaye 135s scored second- and third-place podiums there in 1937 and first, second, and fourth in 1938. Track-bound 135s put England’s finest on notice as well, with Siam’s Prince Bira winning the 1938 Donington 12-Hour Sports Car Race and Prince Chula victorious at Brooklands’ “Fastest Road Car in England” event. Post-WW II, Delahaye 135s raced well into the 1950s, with one contesting the 1954 Tour de France.

Racing success aside, the Type 135 was purpose-built for some of the most luxurious and sporting custom coachwork ever conceived by design, and by necessity, as Delahaye did not produce its own car bodies. In particular, the independent front suspension and low ride height of the Type 135 allowed the design of ever-more daring and streamlined bodywork, drawing many of the era’s finest custom coachbuilders to create a wide array for coachwork for it, including Figoni et Falaschi, Marcel Portout, Pennock, and Saoutchik to name only a few. In Geneva, Switzerland, the highly respected Carrosserie Gangloff, which was most active from 1929 to 1932, saw the departure of George Gangloff and operations were taken over by his staff, including Edouard Fischer and Gangloff’s technical manager, Robert Grau, with the firm renamed Carrosserie du Sécheron SA. While it continued to design and build a select few custom bodies, priorities shifted to body-repair in the years following WW II as the celebrated era of the custom coachbuilder sadly drew to a logical, yet regrettable, close.

Custom bodied French cars are regarded as some of the most beautiful cars in the world. Occasionally one of these stunning examples is pried loose out of a long-term collection and offered for acquisition. Such is the case with this beautiful, sweeping Delahaye 135M Cabriolet. Accompanied by exceptional documentation including the original Delivery Note from Sécheron to Garage Goy, the local Delahaye representative in Geneva, this masterpiece of the custom coachbuilder’s art carries Chassis Number 800657 and retains its matching “triple carb” engine. It is one of just four known Delahayes bodied by Sécheron and understood to be the only Type 135M created new with this particular body style. Originally finished in two-tone beige and brown, the vehicle was exhibited at the historic first edition of the Geneva Salon in 1947, with an image of it on display there in a 1987-dated magazine article commemorating the event on file. In May 1948, Pierre Louis Molleyres of Geneva purchased 800657 directly from Carrosserie de Sécheron. Subsequent Swiss owners included Katharina Zuest in 1951, Jak Bosch in 1980, Albert Guggisberg in 1988, and noted collector Erich Traber in 1989. Receipts from the mid-1980s are on file, chronicling maintenance and restoration work performed under Mr. Bosch. The Blackhawk Collection of Danville, California purchased this extremely rare vehicle at auction in Geneva during 1990. Following importation to the United States, the vehicle was sent to the world-famous, award-winning classic-car restorer Mike Fennell of Saugus, California, with the concours-level work completed in 1992 and the colors changed to flamboyant two-tone purple and magenta paintwork over lavender upholstery. Later that year, this stunning cabriolet would find new long-term ownership in a private collection in the far east. The car, however, remained in the United States and stored under the careful eye and steadfast care of Blackhawk. Recognized as a CCCA Full Classic® automobile, this “one of one” 1947 Delahaye 135M – the 1947 Geneva Salon car – is offered at auction for the first time since 1990, nearly thirty years later. It remains fresh and presents beautifully throughout, awaiting only the opportunity to return to high-profile show display at the world's finest venues, in keeping with its Geneva debut in 1947.

1947 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet
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