The origins of the postwar Delahaye 235 can be traced directly back to the legendary 135 MS Competition of the prewar era. The Type 135 was followed by the 175 and 180 models, and finally by the Type 235, which would be the final car offered by the French firm. Although the chassis was very similar to that of the 135, it was modified to accommodate the wide body styles of the 1950s. Continuing very much in a prewar vein, Delahaye offered their customers two choices when purchasing: they could order either a ready built car as from their standard catalogue or a coach-built example by an independent supplier. This Cabriolet carries attractive coachwork from the Paris firm of Letourner et Marchand. In total just 85 examples of the Type 235 were built.Also photographed at :
A brilliant French industrial engineer from Touraine, Émile Delahaye, constructed his first motor car in 1895. It was subsequently displayed at the Paris Auto Salon and while production remained quite limited, Delahaye's automobiles soon appeared at racing venues and proved to be both reliable and remarkably competitive. However, lack of funding prevented a substantial automotive manufacturing venture, until the firm's acquisition by Parisian businessmen in 1898.
Continually expanding, and under new ownership, Delahaye established itself as a builder of reliable and robust trucks, fine cars, industrial engines, and special service vehicles. In 1935 the company unveiled the Type 135, which was fitted with a powerful six-cylinder engine and would remain the basis of the company's racing projects for several years to come. Victories at the prestigious Rallye Monte Carlo in 1937 and 1939 were followed by a win at the 24-hour race at Le Mans. Concurrently, Delahaye cars were earning top honors at various Concours d'Elegance with striking Art Deco coachwork from Europe's most renowned craftsmen at Figoni et Falaschi, Chapron, Saoutchik, Franay, and Letourneur et Marchand, among others.
The Type 135 was followed by the 175 and 180 models, and finally by the Type 235, which would be the final car offered by the French firm. As had been the custom, Delahaye constructed the chassis and referred all custom bodywork to its various coachbuilders. Although the chassis was very similar to that of the 135, it was modified to accommodate the full-width body styles typical of the 1950s. A large oval grille and two-tone color schemes further defined the beautiful new Delahaye. While the prototype was designed by Philippe Charbonneaux for Motto of Turin, the final iteration of the car was designated Type 235, of which only 85 examples were ever produced.
The powerplant was likewise very similar to the 135s, although the 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine had greater compression and was fitted with three downdraft carburetors and a new camshaft. A single-carburetor model was still available. With a top speed of approximately 115 miles per hour and zero to 60 times of 11.5 seconds, the 235's performance rivaled that of the previous 4.5-liter models, and its handling abilities and driving manners were very respectable as well. The inline six-cylinder was mated to a synchronized four-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed electro-magnetic, pre-selector Cotal gearbox, which eliminated the use of the clutch once the car was in motion.
Of the 85 235s produced by Delahaye, many were bodied by the well-respected Chapron coachworks. In contrast to those comparatively prolific designs, however, this particular right-hand drive 235 carries striking coachwork by Letourneur et Marchand, a firm whose founders Jean-Arthur Marchand and Jean-Marie Letourneur had come to Paris at the turn of the twentieth century before meeting in the workshops of Henri Binder.
While Letourneur et Marchand built other 235s and at least one other open car, 18043 was a one-off design, making its debut at the Paris Salon in October 1952, as evidenced by period photography, to complement the 235 coupé displayed the previous year. After spending some time in the Paris showroom, presumably as a demonstrator, the car was finally sold in 1953 to a private collector in Paris, who owned it until 1967. The same period photography indicates the car was sold for the considerable sum of 3,250,000 F. Thereafter, 18043 was owned by a series of well known French collectors before being purchased in 1983 by Jean-Pierre Bernard, who was the manager of Delahaye until its closure in 1954, and would later become president of the Delahaye Club.
Upon acquiring the car, the vendor elected to commission a professional high-point restoration in Seattle. The car was reportedly in excellent condition and no metal or woodwork was needed. Finished in light blue, the color is very close to the original and is complemented nicely by a matching light blue-gray interior and dark blue top. The detailing is very attractive and the lines and profile of the car are quite elegant – understated even – yet decidedly forward-looking and less reminiscent of pre-war coachbuilt cars.
Following completion, the car was shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 2008 and was also invited to the Kirkland Concours, where the theme was 'French Curves'.
In addition to being a formidable contender at the most prestigious of concours events, the car is apparently also a very capable performer. With plenty of power transmitted through an electro-magnetic pre-selector Cotal gearbox, this Delahaye has been driven about 300 miles since completion of its restoration last year and is reportedly a delight to drive.
With more horsepower than even the 135MS, this lovely 235 is certainly one of the more desirable examples available, particularly given its unique Letourneau et Marchand coachwork and remarkable provenance. As Delahaye was sold to Hotchkiss in 1954, this particular car represents not only the last gasp of Delahaye's automobile production but also the swan song of renowned French coachbuilding.