Chassis #: 48771
In the late 1930s, French entrepreneurs, in conjunction with the government, offered a million franc prize to the manufacturer who made the car that could best compete on the international circuit. Designer Jean Francois took the challenge and came up with a brilliant concept: he mounted three low gear-driven camshafts to operate incline valves via pushrods. The result was a light car (1958 lbs) that was twice as powerful as its German and Italian competitors. This is the car that won the 'Million Franc Prize' in 1937.
The car is powered by a 4.5-liter, 3-cam, overhead valve, all magnesium block, V12 engine, developing 220 horsepower coupled to a four-speed manual competition transmission. It has a top speed of 165 mph.
No more than a dozen or so of these magnificent 4.5-liter V12s were made, but the chassis have changed hands repeatedly over the years with many fascinating modifications.
It was raced by World Champion Race Driver, Rene Dreyfus in 1937: took 1st place in 1938 Grand Prix de Cork Ireland and Grand Prix dePau, France; 4th at the 1938 Mille Miglia, 1939 Grand Prix de P.A.C.F., 1939 Grand Prix d'Allemagne, Nurburgring, 1996 Mille Miglia, and the 1998 and 1999 Lagunda Seca race.
Chassis #: 48771
Ordered by Lucy Schell, the type 145 two-seater was a hybrid car built for both sports and GP racing. Work was concentrated on the new V12 engine while the chassis retained much from the Type 135.
The V12 engine was only 67.5cm long with a conventional one piece crankshaft mounted in seven white metal bearings. To make the engine as light as possible, the cylinder heads were made of an aluminum alloy and the block was cast in a magnesium alloy, a technique few have dared to follow. Each row of cylinders was served by three carburetors placed on top of the engine. The valves were operated by pushrods and rockers (1 central and 2 side camshafts). The car retained the Type 135 front suspension. While the car was top modern at the front, the rear end was antique. To reduce drag, the semi-elliptic leaf springs were mounted flush to the chassis. That created problems as the springs were at an angle to each other and not perpendicular to the axle.
A totally new body was made for the car. With its blunt nose, it created quite a sensation when shown for the first time at the Montlhery track on June 25, 1937. Rene Dreyfus later admitted that it was the most awful looking the car he'd ever seen.
In 1937, the French Fonds de Course, an organization aiming to put France back into GP racing, announced that 1 million francs should go to the French car (built to the 1938 formula) that could run 200km at a speed exceeding 146.5km/h (by the widest margin) on the Montlhery track before September 1, 1937. On August 27, Dreyfus, with a special built Delahaye T145, took the record with a 146.654 km/h run, earning the million for the team. Lucy Schell ordered a white & red line to be painted at an angle over the body on all the cars to celebrate the event. This car also had victories at the Pau and Cork GP in early 1938.
No auction information available for this vehicle at this time.
(Data based on Model Year 1937
Vehicles That Failed To Sell1937 Delahaye Type 145's that have appeared at auction but did not sell.
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