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Lot 235: Delahaye 135M Cabriolet

Exceptional Motor Cars and Motorcycles, Bonhams (2 February 2012)

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 forever: the T135 Coupe Des Alpes. A fine sporting car, the T135 was powered by an engine which, although designed for car use, had first appeared in a Delahaye commercial vehicle. The 3.2-litre, six-cylinder, overhead-valve unit produced 110bhp on triple Solex carburettors, while the chassis featured transverse-leaf independent front suspension, four-speed synchromesh or Cotal gearboxes, centre-lock wire wheels and 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. 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-WW2 as the 135M with the 3.6-litre engine and lasted in production until 1951. By this time Delahaye was in serious financial difficulty as a result of the French government's taxation policies, which heavily penalised cars of over 3.0 litres, and in 1954 was taken over by Hotchkiss. Delahaye had no in-house coachworks, so all its chassis were bodied by independents, which created some of their most attractive designs on the Type 135. It was a most fortuitous partnership, resulting in memorable automotive sculpture from the likes of Saoutchik, Chapron, Franay, Graber, Pennock and Figoni et Falaschi. The example offered here features well proportioned cabriolet coachwork by the Swiss carrosserie, Graber. A desirable 135M model equipped with triple-carburettor induction and Cotal pre-selector gearbox, chassis number '800269' was supplied new to Lucerne, Switzerland in 1946. The body is certainly one of Graber's finest from this period, reminiscent in many ways of the factory coachwork for the contemporary Alfa Romeo 2500. In 1956 the Delahaye was sold to Bern and then again in 1958 to an owner in Thun who kept the car until 1998, since when it has undergone a high quality, detailed restoration. The original fittings have all been refurbished (including the white steering wheel), the body very sympathetically restored, a new hood made and the interior professionally re-trimmed in red hide, very much in Graber's original style The car was treated to a thorough mechanical check over prior to sale and is offered with technical inspection document. A fine example of an exceptionally fine motor car, it has continuous history and comes with Dutch title. This beautiful Delahaye would make a fine addition to any collection or simply a wonderful period tourer to enjoy the coming summers.

Lot Details
Auction Exceptional Motor Cars and Motorcycles
Bonhams, La Halle Freyssinet, Paris
Lot Number235
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price€140000
Hammer Price (inc premium)€161000
Condition rating
Registration number
Chassis number800269
Engine number12S 103 800 512
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors