Motivated by their racing success, Henri Chapron bought two used Delahaye Type 145 competition cars to rebody them in his own way. With performance credentials to win events like the Pau Grand Prix, this chassis was one of the fastest in its day – a very special Type 145 adorned with simple cigar bodywork won a million francs from the French government for breaking the speed record at Montlhery.
With such a potent chassis and graceful body design to complement it, these two Coupes became Chapron’s masterwork. It’s obvious he had a keen sense to rebody Delahaye’s most sporting chassis, even if it meant including complicated racing engines that were difficult to repair.
The first car, chassis 48772 entered shop in 1939, but wasn’t completed until after the war due to delayed payments. By 1951 the chassis was mated with its new body and it was shipped to New York. After a less than a year of driving, the used racing engine needed to be rebuilt. Unfortunately, the engine was never completed and the car sat dormant for twenty years.
Eventually 48772 was restored by Hibernia Restorations and painted its original Bluish Gray. In 2004 it was sold at Retromobile by Lucas Huni to the Peter Mullin Collection.
Undeterred from his ongoing payment problems with his first 145 which took over ten years to straighten out, Henri Chapron bought chassis 48773 from Ecurie Blueue in January of 1947. It was delivered over a year later to it first owner and was very similar to the earlier car, although it featured a full frame rear window and striking two-tone paint.
One major difference between the cars is the second featured Type 165 engine that was detuned but still had competition features such as a multiple plate clutch, lightweight valve train, and a special crankshaft.
Later, 48773 was painted dark green and the engine was replaced by a Type 135 Sport’s. It was bought like this by the Schlumpf brothers before being was then sold to the USA where its owner was able to locate the original engine. It then took eleven years from 1972 to 1983 to refurbish and install the original engine.
After its restoration, the car was shown at the 1985 Pebble Beach Concours with its striking blue/burgundy paint scheme which helped emphasize the embossed ridge of the fenders. Over the entire body a thin layer of pearl iridescence was painted under the clear coat which gave the car a distinct shimmer in direct sunlight.
By 2005, the car was in the Peter Mullin collection and he had it again restored for the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours.
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.