Chassis #: 48666
The origins of Delahaye lie in a company started in 1845 to produce brick-making machinery. Emile Delahaye was a railroad engineer who designed rolling stock for the French and Belgian railroads. He designed his first car similar to the German Daimler in 1895. Two years later, he moved his company to Paris and began a variety of engineering projects. His first shaft-driven cars appeared in 1907 and a V-6 as early as 1912. During World War I the company introduced stationary engines, gun parts, and aircraft components. After the war, it concentrated on dull and dependable cars, typically rather antiquated in design and appearance. All that changed when the 135 prototype appeared at the Paris Auto Salon in 1933.
Delahaye took over Delage in 1935, a maker of elegant cars and a company with an established clientele. After competing in the French Grand Prix in 1935; Delahaye finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th behind the winning Bugatti in 1936; won the Monte Carlo rally in 1937 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1938. The Type 135M, equipped with three carburetors, provided the chassis for flamboyant coachwork by various carrossiers; none more so than Figoni & Falaschi, chief purveyors of the French teardrop - a name Figoni despised. Joseph Figoni was the genius stylist/designer and Ovidio Falaschi was the accountant who kept him solvent.
The dramatic lines on this Delahaye 135 Cabriolet are based on a Delahaye shown at the 1936 Paris Auto Salon. The design was a collaboration between Joseph Figoni and illustrator Georges Hamel (often 'Geo Ham'), who was famous for his racing posters. There is also a suggestion that it was influenced by the early designs of Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, who went on to design many flamboyant cars in the 1950s. This streamlined cabriolet is one of just two cabriolets known to survive with the short wheelbase Competition Court chassis.
Delivered new in 1936 to Vienna, Austria, to a bohemian industrialist, it was re-discovered in Czechoslovakia in 1997 and purchased by Jacques 'Frenchy' Harguindeguy (an individual famous for collecting, restoring and showing antique cars), who restored the car and went on to win best of Show at the 50th anniversary of the Pebble Beach Concours in 2000. It is one of two known to survive on the short wheelbase chassis.
The Type 135Ms are truly a prestigious masterpiece with a strong racing history and heritage that was formed on stability, robustness, and stamina.
The car is powered by a water-cooled, inline, six-cylinder, 3.6-liter engine, fitted with a single Solex carburetor, coupled to a four-speed manual transmission. This 115-horsepower car weighs 2,450 pounds.
Chassis #: 48666
Designed and built by Joseph Figoni for the 1936 Paris Auto Salon, the 135 Competition short chassis was the basis for this masterpiece which would become synonymous with French Art Deco design. It incorporated sweeping fully enveloped front and rear fenders, low mounted headlamps molded into the front fenders and dramatic body lines highlighted in bold contrasting colors. A sensation at the Paris Auto Salon, it generated enough demand to produce eleven cars. This is one of three original Torpedo Cabriolets and is one of only two remaining.
After being hidden during WWII chassis #48666 was often seen around Prague in the 1960s but was discovered partially disassembled in 1977 and immediately underwent a meticulous restoration with input from Joseph Figoni's son Claude. It still had the original coachwork, exterior trim, engine, gearbox, and other significant components. Samples of the original paint were used to return to the same colors as it was delivered in 1937.