1948 Delahaye 148 Drophead Coupé
Coachwork by Pennock
Chassis no. 800206
•Rare French Grande Routière
•Present ownership since 2003
•Registered in the Republic of Ireland
Delahaye's 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, winning the Le Mans 24-Hour Race outright in 1937 and 1938. Without doubt, the 135 transformed Delahaye's image from that of staid dependability to stylish high performance, banishing the saying 'solide comme un Delahaye', although the firm's products remained as well engineered as ever. The model reappeared post-WW2 with the 3½-litre engine as the 135M and lasted in production until 1951 when it was superseded by the upgraded 235. Delahaye's magnificent six-cylinder power unit was also used for the longer-wheelbase Type 148 and 148L (Légère = Light).
Delahaye had no in-house coachworks, so all its chassis were bodied by independents, making every car unique. The 135 and 235 in particular attracted the attention of Europe's finest coachbuilders, and many of their works on these chassis are among the most striking examples of automotive art of the period. It was a most fortuitous partnership, resulting in memorable automotive sculpture from the likes of Saoutchik, Chapron, Franay, Graber, Pennock, and Figoni et Falaschi.
Following WW2, the concours-winning firm of Pennock, located in The Hague, Holland, acquired several chassis from Delahaye, creating the outstanding drophead coupé offered here, which makes effective use of the low-slung Delahaye chassis. Right-hand drive, like many high quality French cars of the period, this Delahaye 148 was purchased for the vendor's private collection from Dragone Classic Motorcars in the USA in October 2003 (bill of sale on file). Dragone had purchased the car from Tony Paalman (then of Automuseum Deventer), who had bought it from Dutch collector G J Moed circa 2002. Kept on museum display in the Republic of Ireland, the car will have been got running for the sale but may well require further re-commissioning and thus is sold strictly as viewed.
Elegant and stylish, while at the same time offering good performance, this Delahaye 148 represents a wonderful opportunity for the connoisseur to enjoy the very best of European coachbuilding expressed on one of the finest chassis of its day.
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