Chassis #: 151-53-75
Delahaye was founded in Tours, France and was in production from 1894 through 1954. They began by making belt driven one and two-cylinder cars. Following World War I, they mainly produced trucks, motor ploughs and fire engines. Lucy O'Reilly Schell, an American heiress, sponsored Delahaye in rally car races in the 1930's.
In the 1930's Hitler pumped millions of Deutsche Marks into Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union. This was a propaganda effort to intimidate the world with German technological might. In 1937, the French government and the Automobile Club of France offered a 1,000,000 franc reward to the constructor and driver of any French car that could best the Germans at Monthlery. The contest ultimately came down to a competition between Delahaye and Bugatti. Delahaye, with the superb driving talents of Rene Dreyfus, was victorious. The following year, Dreyfus went on to win eight more races in the car, one of three newly engeineered 12-cylinder model 145's. This racecar, now France's most famous, was hidden away during the war and eventually sold to a private client in 1945. The new owner ordered elegant coachwork from Marius Franay. However, before delivery, the car was seized and auctioned by the French government for crimes of collaboration. It was purchased by Franay and eventually sold to its first owner, rumored to have been Prince Ranier of Monaco.
This Delahaye began life in 1937 as a 12-cylinder Grand Prix race car. Its most famous win was the Prix du Million, when Rene Dreyfus beat the Mercedes and Auto Union at Montlhery. In 1939 it was secreted away in the French countryside, and remained there until the war was over, then was sold to a Frenchman in order to build a fast sports car. The coachbuilder, Marius Franay, discarded the racing body, and a futuristic cabriolet was built on the V12 chassis. Sadly the car was never collected. It remained with Franay, who showed it at the 1946 Paris Auto Salon, and it later won the 1947 International Concours d'Excellence. In 1953 Franay sold the car, and in the early 1980s it was acquired by the designer Phillippe Charbonneaux, who removed the cabriolet body and installed it on a 6-cylinder 135 Delahaye chassis and fabricated a new race car body on the V12 chassis. In 1997 its current owner acquired both cars and has reunited the original 12-cylinder race chassis and the original cabriolet body as they were in 1946.
This car is finished in its original color of Electric Blue with its original interior color of light grey. The high degree of engine bay finish is original as confirmed by period photographs. The car is unmuffled as it was in both race car and race car/cabriolet forms.
A French customer requested that Delahaye build him a performance sportscar. The result was a new Franay roadster body being installed on the mechanically rebuilt Prix du Million chassis. Before it could be completed, the customer was arrested and jailed as a Nazi collaborator and the car was sold by the French government.