1936 Delahaye 135 Torpedo Cabriolet
Above Images ©IMAGE CREDITS - Supercars.net @ Pebble Beach Concours
If the Talbot T150 Teardrop is Joseph Figoni's masterpiece, then the runner up is his Torpedo Cabriolet. Eleven of these striking bodies were manufactured, and some feature the best two-tone paint schemes ever used on a car. In comparison, these Cabriolets make almost every other Delahaye look second rate.
Everything on these roasters has an attractive and diminishing flow that's extended to details such as light surrounds and accent lines. These bodies can be marveled from every angle, but the defining trait is a highlight dash that runs along the side of the car and complements similar detail on the wheel skirts. Other features, such as fully enclosed wire wheels, lights pushed to the extremity of body and a distinct rear fin further set these cars apart from the rest.
Inside, a plush interior is surrounded by gorgeous woodwork and an intricate dashboard dons color-matched O.M. gauges. Hidden behind the two seats is a disappearing soft-top that's concealed by a hinged body panel that pivots from near the rear bumper. Underneath this huge panel, there is also room for a spare wheel and modest storage.
Built on a sporting chassis, the Torpedos benefit from a triple carbureted version of Delahayes 3.5 liter inline six. Good for 120 bhp, top speed is around 100 mph (160 kph). Only the very best cars, like the Alfa Romeo 2900, Duesenberg Model J and Bugatti Type 57SC could rival this level performance.
All the Torpedo Cabriolets were modeled after a show car that first debuted at the 1936 Paris show as Delahaye's top model. This striking cabriolet was built on shortened Type 135 chassis number 47247 called Competition Court that was specifically designed for small two seat roadsters. While its original orange and cream body was lost during an accident, the chassis and engine currently remain in the capable hands of an enthusiastic owner that will return the show car back to its former glory.
After the Paris Show, artist Geo Ham sued Joseph Figoni as he believed it was direct copy of a car depicted in one of his paintings. Eventually an agreement was reached and some cars have the Geo Ham plaque just in front of the rear fender.
A red and white version, similar to the Paris Show Car won the 2000 Pebble Beach Concours and has probably the best color scheme of any other version. This car, chassis 48666 was disassembled in the 1960s to be found in 1997 with its original chassis components, interior and soft top.
Adatto, Richard and Diana Meredith. Delahaye Styling and Design. Dalton Watson Fine books. 2005.
Dorizon, Peigney and JP Dauliac. Delahaye-Le Grande Livre. Paris Editions EPA. 1995.
Renou, Michel. Delahaye-Tout l'historie. Paris Editions EPA. 1994.