1948 Delahaye 135 Drophead Coupé
Coachwork by Pennock
Chassis no. 800843
•One of the all-time great French sports cars
•Little used since full restoration
•Registered in the UK
Based initially at Tours and from 1906 in Paris, Delahaye built its first automobile in 1894 and soon diversified into commercial vehicle manufacture. Its early products tended to be rather lacklustre, but then in 1935 came the first of a new generation that would change the marque's image: the T135 Coupe Des Alpes. A fine sporting car, the T135 was powered by a 3.2-litre, six-cylinder, overhead-valve engine producing 110bhp on triple Solex carburettors, while the chassis featured transverse-leaf independent front suspension, four-speed synchromesh or Cotal gearboxes, centre-lock wire wheels and Bendix brakes.
Delahaye improved on the formula the following year with the 3½-litre, 120/130bhp T135MS, and the sports version was soon making a name for itself in competitions, taking 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th places in the run-to-sportscar-regulations 1936 French Grand Prix and winning the Monte Carlo Rally and Le Mans 24-Hour Race outright in 1937 and 1938 respectively. Prince Bira won the 1938 Donington 12-Hour Sports Car Race in Prince Chula's example and went on to take victory in Brooklands' 'fastest road car in England' race against some formidable opposition. The model reappeared post-WW2 as the 135M with the 3½-litre engine and lasted in production until 1951.
Delahaye had no in-house coachworks, so all its chassis were bodied by inde¬pendents who created some of their most attractive designs on the Type 135. It was a most fortuitous partnership, which resulted in memorable automotive sculpture from the likes of Figoni et Falaschi, Saoutchik, Chapron, Franay, Graber, and Pennock.
Following WW2, the concours-winning firm of Pennock, located in The Hague, Holland acquired several chassis from Delahaye, on one of which they cre¬ated the spectacular three-position drophead coupé offered here. Right-hand drive, like most French cars of quality at that time, this car previously formed part of a prominent private collection, undergoing an extensive and fastidious restoration, since when it has seen little use. It is finished in deep maroon paintwork throughout, while the immaculate 'as new' interior is trimmed in biscuit hide with contrasting maroon carpets. The hood is of beige mohair.
The vendor is undertaking a full re-commissioning and service, and can attest that the car sounds simply wonderful with the fully rebuilt 3½-litre straight-six engine emitting a strong bark and providing spirited performance. The engine bay is detailed to show standards and electrics have been completely rewired. We are advised that the body was removed during the restoration, and literally everything that could be done to the car was done. Particularly elegant, the coachwork boasts pontoon-style front wings and no running boards, while the versatile hood can be used fully closed, half open in sedanca mode, or fully open giving the car a rakish and streamlined appearance.
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