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Lot 232: Delahaye 135 M Cabriolet

Automobiles d'Exception a Retromobile, Bonhams (23 January 2010)

In 1932, the Delahaye brand was in search of a new lease of life. Up to that point it had been accustomed to producing good, solid cars for the middle classes, but also, and above all, commercial vehicles and heavy trucks. Founded in 1832 by Emile Delahaye, the brand was first set up in Tours, in Indre-et-Loire, and then moved to 10 rue du Banquier in Paris in 1898 when the business was bought by Georges Morane and Léon Desmarais. They made significant developments in production and focused mainly on two key areas: firstly the production of top of the range cars, and secondly heavy trucks whose constant and regular production was guaranteed to consistently support the more unstable production of cars. 1930 saw the economic crisis which hit French car production very hard. The Delahaye brand did not have sufficient financial means to expect radical changes to production, but decided to focus on models which were more prestigious and elitist than the range they had offered up to then, which while offering the undeniable qualities of reliability and robustness, was significantly lacking in character. Their intention from then on, as stated by historian Marc-Antoine Collin in his excellent work on the model 135, was "To make fewer cars, but better ones, to win competitions to get the brand known and sell cars which are more luxurious and more expensive." From 1935, the Delahaye 135 would become, within several months, the symbol of a luxury sports car, all the more so because the brand, while maintaining a range of mass produced body work, went on to largely offer its production to renowned body work specialists. Basking in the glow of numerous competition wins, the Delahaye 135 quickly became the icon of a middle class clientele which consumed without counting and very often entrusted the 135 chassis to a body work specialist in order to own and show off unique body work. Technically, the Delahaye 135 is powered by a nice, classic 3,557 cm3 six cylinder inline engine which came from the brand's commercial production. It has two cylinder valves and reaches power of 145 hp at 4,000 rpm. This is installed between the arms of an equally classic chassis, made up of two main side frames according to the Bloctube principle borrowed from Peugeot, which was not well known for its technological innovation. The modernity of the Delahaye 135 must be seen in its independent front wheels and in the excellent marriage of the solid chassis with the engine, which forms a very consistent whole. The wheelbase of the chassis is 2.95m. Around 150 Delahaye chassis were sent to Switzerland. Several Swiss body work specialists made use of them, including Graber, Worblaufen and Langenthal. The latter body work specialist was created in 1929 from the previous firm Fritz Grogg. At the beginning its production consisted of making private cars and vans on cheap chassis, and later luxury cabriolets on American or French chassis, including Hispano-Suiza and Delahaye. The body work specialist Langenthal produced several bodies on 135 chassis before and after the war. From 1950, Langenthal abandoned the production of car body work. The style of the body work produced by Langenthal on this 135 chassis numbered 800 522 is evidence of great modernity compared to the very heavy creations of some French body work specialists such as Figoni and Saoutchik, or very conservative creations like those of Henri Chapron from the same year. The headlamps and fog lamps are built into the wings and installed relatively low. The treatment of the stern is evidence of an elegant fluidity. The dashboard is in sheet metal painted to imitate precious wood. The four seats and the side upholstery are covered with original green leather and the floor has a beige wool fitted carpet. The car is well presented and in good operating condition. It has its original 6S103 type engine with the same number as that of the chassis, and French registration documents. This superb cabriolet, thanks to its well known but uncommon body work, on a classic chassis whose reputation is well-established, is a very good example of the exceptional creations which were able to be produced during this period of luxury in the motor world.

Lot Details
Auction Automobiles d'Exception a Retromobile
Bonhams, Porte de Versailles, Paris
Lot Number232
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Condition rating3
Registration number
Chassis number6S103
Engine number6S103
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2