“The Delahaye 135M car is a superlative machine built with great care and precision based on the fruits of long experience. It is designed to give its owner thousands of miles of fast, trouble-free motoring under any conditions of road and weather. It neither needs nor asks for more than a minimum of attention and maintenance, but that minimum it must have in order to give its unique response to the driver’s most exacting demands.” So reads the florid preface to a postwar Delahaye handbook poeticizing one of the most successful automobiles of its time: the 135.
Emile Delahaye was already a successful builder of gas-powered engines in Tours, France, when—inspired by the horseless carriages then being built in Germany by Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz—he decided to build his own line of cars beginning in 1895. By 1897, he had sold his company, which retained his name, relocated to Paris and quickly established a reputation for building solid, reliable cars and trucks. Years of success followed, but with the Great Depression came the need to change course. On the supposed advice of Ettore Bugatti, then company Principal Charles Weiffenbach decided to point Delahaye in a new direction, one of building exclusive sporting cars of the utmost quality. The first results, the Type 138 and 134, turned out to be intermediate steps; the full realization came in the form of the Type 135 introduced in two series at the 1935 Paris Salon.
An imaginatively conceived multi-purpose platform, the 135’s low-slung chassis, independent front suspension and efficient packaging made it well suited to all manner of action from sports and Grand Prix racing to bespoke boulevardier; in any form, it was a machine of ample yet tractable power and impeccable road manners.
The 135’s record speaks volumes as to the car’s extraordinary success, which included wins in the 1937 Monte Carlo Rally and the 1938 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as a string of European Concours awards while garbed in coachwork by the most celebrated styling houses, all of these being achievements that ensured its continuing production well into the 1950s. Chassis No. 800388, this magnificent 1947 Delahaye 135M features a classically beautiful rumble-seat cabriolet body by prestigious French coachbuilder Carrosserie Guilloré that, although built after the war, echoes the grand styling of many prewar Delahayes, many of which were inspired by the great Geo Ham.
A consistent winner on the prestigious Concours d’Elegance circuit, its dazzling presentation is a harmonious mix of beautiful Burgundy paint, matching canvas top, boot and spare tire cover, brilliant brightwork and an opulent interior featuring tan leather upholstery with matching fitted Louis Vuitton luggage, artfully finished wood trim and finely tailored carpets and trim. The product of a documented ground-up restoration by the world-renowned Alan Taylor Company, Inc., of Escondido, California, this unique special earned First in Class honors at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, followed by more class wins at the Meadowbrook, Newport Beach and Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegances; it has also taken First Place at the 2004 Houston Keels and Wheels, National First Place awards from both the Classic Car Club of America and the Antique Automobile Club of America, and the Most Elegant Award at the San Marino Concours d’Elegance. Offered with a known history dating back to the 1950s, this one-of-a-kind Delahaye 135M represents the pinnacle of the French classic period.