1948 Delahaye Type 135M Three-Position Drophead Coupé Coachwork by Pennock Registration no. UXS 565 Chassis no. 800843
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 forever: the T135 Coupe Des Alpes.
A few years previously Delahaye's chief engineer, Jean Françoise, had been briefed by the company's major shareholder, Madame Léon Desmarais, to design a series of sporting cars worthy of the Delahaye name. The first of this family, the 2.1-litre, four-cylinder Type 134, was introduced at the Paris Salon in 1933. It was the first Delahaye with independent front suspension, which was mounted on a new chassis incorporating box-section side members and a sheet-steel floorpan welded to the cross braces. The Type 134 engine shared its 107mm stroke with an equally new 3,227cc six which, although designed for car use, had first appeared in a Delahaye commercial vehicle. It was this engine that Jean Françoise would use for the Type 135.
Equipped with triple Solex carburettors, the 3.2-litre, six-cylinder, overhead-valve unit produced 113bhp in Type 135 specification. It went into a chassis similar to that of the Type 134, featuring transverse-leaf independent front suspension, four-speed synchromesh or Cotal gearboxes, centre-lock wire wheels and Bendix brakes.
Delahaye had no in-house coachworks, so all its chassis were bodied by independents who created some of their most attractive designs on the Type 135. It was a most fortuitous partnership resulting 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 created the outstanding - and very rare - three-position drophead coupé offered here. Right-hand drive like most quality French cars of the period, this matching-numbers Delahaye 135M benefits from a body-off, 'last nut and bolt' restoration undertaken by its owner some 13 years ago, at which time everything that could possibly be done was done. The Delahaye then formed part of the owner's private collection for 10 years before returning to the UK in 2017. A full re-commissioning and a major service was then undertaken, including fitting new tyres all round, and the car is now ready for stylish touring in the grand manner.
A rare and collectible example, being a three-position drophead coupé rather than the more common cabriolet, '800843' is finished in deep maroon and Burgundy with fine silver coachlining, biscuit leather interior, matching mohair hood and contrasting maroon carpets. With its pontoon-style front wings, 3½-litre engine and four-speed gearbox, this is a stunning, rakish, sporty and drivable car capable of comfortably keeping up with modern-day traffic. On our recent visit to inspect the Delahaye it ran and drove beautifully, this magnificent French thoroughbred is offered with a V5C Registration Certificate.