Lot 468: 1948 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet
Coachwork by Pennock
Based initially at Tours and from 1906 in Paris, Delahaye built its first automobile in 1894 and soon diversified into commercial vehicle manufacture. Its early products tended to be rather lacklustre, but then in 1935 came the first of a new generation that would change the marque’s image: the T135 Coupe Des Alpes. A fine sporting car, the T135 somewhat paradoxically borrowed its engine from one of its maker’s trucks. The 3.2-liter, six-cylinder, overhead-valve unit produced 110bhp on triple Solex carburetors, while the chassis featured transverse-leaf independent front suspension, four-speed synchromesh or Cotal gearboxes, center-lock wire wheels and Bendix brakes.
Delahaye improved on the formula the following year with the 3.6-liter, 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. Prince Bira won the 1938 Donington 12-Hour Sports Car Race in Prince Chula’s example and went on to take victory in Brooklands’ ‘fastest road car in England’ race against some formidable opposition. The model reappeared post-WWII as the 135M with the 3.6-liter engine and lasted in production until 1951.
Delahaye had no in-house coachworks, so all its chassis were bodied by independents, who created some of their most attractive designs on the Type 135. It was a most fortuitous partnership, which resulted in memorable automotive sculpture from the likes of Figoni et Falaschi, Saoutchik, Chapron, Franay, Graber and Pennock.
Following WWII the concours-winning firm of Pennock, located in The Hague, The Netherlands acquired several chassis from Delahaye, creating the outstanding Cabriolet offered here with its generous teardrop fenders, enclosed rear wheels and delicately shaped bumpers complementing the traditional Delahaye grille. Subtly but effectively detailed with chrome accents and generous bright stone shields at the rear fenders’ leading edges, Pennock’s cabriolet makes effective use of the low-slung Delahaye chassis, the lack of running boards further accenting the road-hugging design.
Export sales were the key to Europe’s post-war economic recovery, and the Pennock-bodied cabriolet’s first owner was duly found in the United States. It was sold to its second owner, Mr. Dale McCauley of Grosse Point, Michigan in 1952, remaining in the McCauley estate, stored and unused, until 1997 when it was sold to a prominent Midwest automobile collector. The odometer reading of circa 25,000 kilometres at that time (approximately 15,500 miles) is believed to accurately represent the original mileage. Shortly thereafter, a thorough, show-quality restoration (including motor work) was completed by D&D Classic Restorations of Covington, Ohio.
The current owner, an active Southern California automobile enthusiast, is both a concours exhibitor and a participant in driving events such as the Colorado Grand and Copperstate 1000. Attracted by this Delahaye’s originality, driveability and show potential, he acquired it in mid-2002 with the intent to display it at concours and eventually drive it in touring events. Thus, in 2003 he commissioned the respected restoration shop of Alan Taylor Company in Escondido, CA to undertake a mechanical and cosmetic refinement of what was already a very roadworthy and show-ready automobile.
During this time, a vibrant two-tone color scheme was devised for the car and it was painted accordingly. To compliment the paintwork, a new convertible top and headliner, in a lighter tan color, were installed and all interior woodwork refinished. Mechanical work included a complete review of the suspension, brakes, steering and electrical systems. All gauges, lights, fittings and oil lines were inspected and replaced or repaired as needed. Seat belts were installed.
Thoroughly dressed for show and mechanically sorted, this stunning automobile participated in and successfully completed the 2003 Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance. Likewise, she was displayed at the 2003 Pebble Beach Concours where, against some very stiff competition, she garnered a 2nd place in class scoring 97 points. This was followed by a similar result in the 2003 Palos Verdes Concours.
Further mechanical fine-tuning and refinement was completed in 2006 in the capable hands of Mosier Restorations, adjustments being made to the steering, braking and electrical systems over the course of many test drives. A complete service and tune-up was performed, the starter rebuilt, new batteries installed, wheels balanced and the exhaust system was replaced as needed.
Offered with numerous restoration invoices and Certificate of Title, this rare and attractive sports-touring Delahaye is both road and concours-ready. She may be exhibited with pride at additional venues such as Meadowbrook Hall, Amelia Island, Palo Alto, etc. A comfortable, powerful and fine-handling touring car, she will be equally at home on road events.
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