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First seen in 1935, Delahaye’s 135 model signaled the exclusive French marque’s intent to imbue their highly regarded luxury cars with more sportiness. History shows this endeavor to have been quite successful, with the 135 securing many important period rally and endurance competition victories, including an outright win at the 1937 Monte Carlo Rally, and a historic 1st, 2nd, and 4th place finish at the following year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Much of the 135’s motor sports success could be attributed to its robust build and reliable powerplant. While competitors such as Bugatti and Alfa Romeo employed sophisticated twin-cam straight eights, Delahaye’s comparatively straightforward overhead-valve inline-six more than compensated for its relative lack of power with impressive stamina and durability. Several variants were available over the years, in both 3.2- and 3.6-liter form, and with a variety of carburetion configurations. Output ranged from about 90 to 160 hp.

Its chassis was a thoroughly modern design, pairing independent front suspension with a well-located live rear axle and large cable-operated Bendix drum brakes at each corner. Available gearboxes included conventional manual as well as Cotal pre-selector units, each with four forward ratios. Notably, and perhaps counterintuitively, the latter was frequently fitted to race variants, as drivers preferred its capability for foot-activated mid-corner shifts, leaving both hands on the wheel.

Following 60 years of nearly continuous production, Delahaye was acquired by fierce longtime rival Hotchkiss in 1954 and immediately ceased operation. Whether judged by motor sports accomplishments or sales figures, the 135 was the company’s most successful car, with some 2,600 built, including 1,155 135 MS variants featuring three-carburetor setups similar to those utilized on prewar race cars. Ordered in April 1948 by Zurich, Delahaye and Delage dealer Henri Gugolz, chassis 800727 was supplied to Chapron for fitment of the eminent Paris-adjacent firm’s stunning “Vedette” cabriolet coachwork shortly afterward. Though Gugolz initially hoped to display the car at concours d’elegance events in Lausanne and Lucerne that same year, delivery was delayed until 1949. Following some time competing on the European concours circuit, the car was purchased in a highly original state by renowned Swiss collector Walter Grell in 1976 and subsequently acquired by the Mullin Collection in 2000. Accompanied by extensive correspondence under Delahaye, Chapron, and Gugolz letterheads, 800727 remains in beautifully preserved and largely unrestored condition throughout.

With such stunning lines, proportions, brightwork, color combination, matching leather upholstery, deeply varnished wood cabin trim, and clear lucite switchgear, 800727 represents a high-water mark for Art Deco-style design and a bookend for France’s Golden Era of exotic, coachbuilt automobiles.

Gooding & Company
1517 20th Street
Santa Monica  90404  California
United States
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+1 (310) 899-1960