In the 1880s or the 1890s, after having acquired M. Brethon's machine shop in Tours in 1845, Emile Delahaye began experimenting with gasoline engines. His first automobile was built in 1895, and the following year he drove one of his creations to sixth place in the Paris-Marseilles-Paris race. In 1898, Delahaye hired two partners named Leon Desmarais and Georges Morane, and moved to a factory in Paris.
The company later hired Charles Weiffenbach to help manage and organize their new operation. Weiffenbach would remain with Delahaye for fifty-five years, providing valuable insight after Emile Delahaye sold his interest in the company in 1901. The company had been sold to the Desmarais family, who could continue to product quick, responsive, and well-engineered vehicles in similar fashion to as when Emile was in control.
After World War I, the Delahaye company suffered in the post-War recession. The company would survive in-part due to a change in their business plan and by enhancing their performance image.
At the 1935 Paris Salon, Delahaye introduced their Type 135 which would become part of the company's mainstay for the rest of its lifetime. The Type 135 had a new chassis designed by engineer Jean-Francois. The platform featured a welded box-section side members and pressed cross members welded to a ribbed floor. Under the bonnet lurked a 3557cc overhead valve six-cylinder unit. Suspension was provided by transverse leaf springs independent front setup carried over from the earlier Type 138. The gearbox was a smooth Cotal electromagnetic transmission, enhancing the cars performance.
The 135 proved successful in racing, taking the first six places at the 1936 Marseilles race, a second at LeMans in 1937, and first, second and fourth place at LeMans the following year.
In 1938, at the Paris Salon, Delahaye introduced a new top-of-the-line model dubbed the Type 135 MS (Modifiee Speciale). The engine was an updated version of the existing 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine. It had a larger cylinder head, bigger valves to improve breathing, and a boost in horsepower to 130 hp. Depending on coachwork, the car had a top speed in the neighborhood of 110 mph. The horsepower rose even further when fitted with triple carburetion.
Along with impressive engineering, the Delahayes were given equally impressive coachwork. Artisians such as Figoni et Falaschi, Henri Chapron, Letourner et Marchand, Saoutchik, Guillore, Franay, and Graber were tasked with providing the coachwork.
This vehicle, chassis number 60123, has a flowing body, lack of running boards, bright trim on the rocker panels and fender edges, close-coupled two-passenger cabin, and a raked 'vee' windshield. There is a convertible top that disappears completely when lowered.
The design inspiration is said to have come from the Alfa Romeo Flying Star with coachwork by Touring of Milano.
In 1938, chassis 60123 was placed on the deVillars stand at the Paris Salon.
Power is from a 160 horsepower engine and powering a lightweight chassis. The car was long though lost, until it was discovered by a French enthusiast in the 1970s, who elected to undertake a thorough restoration to the French standards of the day. The work was carried out by one of the leading French shops of the day. After the work was completed, the car earned a Best in Show award at Bagatelle.
The current owner acquired the car in 2000 and immediately commissioned a comprehensive restoration. The body was completely stripped and removed from the chassis which was the fully disassembled to the last nut and bolt. The work was completed in 2003 and it received an invitation from nearly every major concours d'Elegance, including both Pebble Beach, where it won its class, and Amelia Island.
In 2010, this vehicle was offered for sale at the 'Sports & Classics of Monterey' presented by RM Auctions. The car was estimated to sell for $1,000,000 - $1,250,000. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $852,500 inclusive of buyer's premium.