Lot 645: Delahaye Type 135M 3.6-Litre Coupé
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 few years previously Delahaye's chief engineer, Jean Françoise, had been briefed by the company's major shareholder, Madame Léon Desmarais, to design a series of sporting cars worthy of the Delahaye name. The first of this family, the 2.1-litre, four-cylinder Type 134, was introduced at the Paris Salon in 1933. It was the first Delahaye with independent front suspension, which was mounted on a new chassis incorporating box-section side members and a sheet-steel floorpan welded to the cross braces. The Type 134 engine shared its 107mm stroke with an equally new 3,227cc six which, although designed for car use, had first appeared in a Delahaye commercial vehicle. It was this engine that Jean Françoise would use for the Type 135. Equipped with triple Solex carburettors, the 3.2-litre, six-cylinder, overhead-valve unit produced 113bhp in Type 135 specification. It went into a chassis similar to that of the Type 134, featuring transverse-leaf independent front suspension, four-speed synchromesh or Cotal gearboxes, centre-lock wire wheels and Bendix brakes. This engine's effectiveness had already been demonstrated when a short-chassis monoposto fitted with one established a number of world and international speed records at Montlhéry in 1934. A 3.2-litre Type 135 finished 5th at Le Mans in 1935 and for the following year Delahaye improved on the formula with the 3,557cc T135 Spéciale and Compétition short-wheelbase versions, which came with 152bhp and 120bhp respectively. The new, 3.6-litre Type 135 was soon making a name for itself, 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. Delahaye had no in-house coachworks, so all its chassis were bodied by inde¬pendents who created some of their most attractive designs on the Type 135. Chassis number '801428' wears coachwork by the Courbevoie-based coachbuilder A Guilloré, who bodied his first cars in 1937. Concentrating almost exclusively on Talbot, Delahaye and Delage chassis, Guilloré was active until circa 1950, although manufacture of commercial vehicle bodies continued for some time thereafter. This car is said to one of only five surviving out of eight built with this particular style of coachwork. Right-hand drive like many high quality French cars of the period, this Delahaye 135M has the Cotal semi-automatic gearbox and is finished in blue with grey leather interior. This wonderfully original car was delivered new to its first owner in Marseille, South of France where it remained for most of its life until being acquired by Monsieur Lucien Penard of Crigny, Central France. '801428' has spent the last four years in Germany, seeing only occasional use. The body was repainted nearly 40 years ago in the original colour, and the car retains its original leather interior. The drive train was completely rebuilt circa 20 years ago, the engine being painstakingly detailed, while last year the Delahaye underwent a thorough tune-up in a specialist restoration workshop in Germany at a cost of €3,000 (approximately £2,300). Boasting the powerful triple-carburettor engine and smooth changing Cotal gearbox, this beautiful French thoroughbred is offered with sundry invoices for recent work and French Carte Grise.
The Beaulieu Sale Collectors' Motor Cars, Motorcycles and|
Bonhams, Beaulieu, National Motor Museum, Hampshire, UK
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