After only selling 77 cars in 1951, Delahaye decided to switch gears and build the 235. It was build in conjunction with french designer Philippe Charbonneaux with a new front grill that represented Delhaye’s distributor Generale Française Automobile (GFA). It was marketed as an expensive car that was one of the last built up as a coachbuilt special and the last car Delahaye sold.
Similar in detail to the 135, the 235 accommodated the wider bodies typical of the early 1950s and featured the new broad grille. It offered better performance with greater compression, triple carburettors and a new camshaft, resulting in a top speed of approximately 100 mph. Gearbox choices included a synchronised four-speed unit or an optional Cotal four-speed pre-selector unit.
To launch the 235, Delahaye prepared their first example with an aluminum body by Motto that reached 173.098 km/h on the Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry. The second car was fitted with a body by Letourneur et Marchand to the factory plans and was a huge hit at the 1951 Paris Motor Show. Delahaye offered 170 kph performance and the car achieved it with several different bodystyles.
Ultimately, only about 85 examples of the 235 were produced through 1954 including the first aluminum prototype. Many of bodies were built by Letourneur et Marchand, Antem and Chapron who stuck to the designs penned out by Philippe Charbonneaux. Some special on-offs were produced by Ghia, Saoutchik and Faget-Varnet. Distributed by GFA, a 235 with Chapron coachwork fetched 3.800.000₣, five times more than a Citroên Traction! The standard chassis was available for 1,365,000₣.
At the time, some of the press criticized the design for being too similar to the 135 and also being far too heavy and expensive. It also offered similar performance to the Talbot Lago Record which was only 2,250,000₣.
In the winter of 1953 Delahaye promoted the car by driving their Motto prototype from Cape Town, South Africa to Algers, Algeria and beat the famous ‘raid Le Cap-Alger’ time by finishing the run in 10 days and 5 hours. This did little to sell the model which had only sold five cars in 1953. By the summer of 1954 Delahaye was sold to Hotchkiss and the marque was gone.
Chassis & Sales
The streamlined Ghia-bodied Pillarless Saloon offered here was the brainchild of Mario Felice Boano, with striking hinged wheelhouse fairings. It was restored in 1990, when it was owned by the Blackhawk Collection and displayed at Pebble Beach. It was then sold in 2004 and more recently joined the growing O’Quinn Collection in Houston, Texas. Since then, it has been preserved in the collection and continues to present well, despite certain small cosmetic imperfections to the paint and interior. Rare and fascinating with stunning lines by Boano, this is certainly one of Delahaye’s more unique designs. Sold for €112.000 at RM Auctions’ 2010 Sport Classics of Monaco event.
818004-1952 Coach Faget-Varnet. For the design of this body Philippe Charbonneaux collaborated with Wimille-Ford for an extremely daring design that included pontoon fenders with a “trilogy of curves”. The contemporary lines were probably ahead of their time, since the car took two years to sell. For some reason it was built with right hand drive and a gaggle of Jaeger instrumentation. At their 2002 Auction on 16 December 2002, Artcurial sold 818004 with an estimate of only €30-35,000.
1953 Delahaye 235 MS Coupé 818076 – sold for €126,500 Matching numbers. Coachwork by Henri Chapron. One of only 83 built between October 1951 and May 1954, the unique Delahaye 235 offered here, chassis number ‘818076’, features handsome coupé coachwork by the influential Parisian carrossier, Henri Chapron, whose company was always renowned for the style and elegance of its work. Right-hand drive like many high quality French cars of the period, it has the Cotal electrical semi-automatic gearbox and is finished in dark green with magnolia leather interior. The sunroof is a particularly unusual feature.
1952 Delahaye 235 Coach Chapron 818018 – sold for €107,280 As can be seen by an invoice from June 30, 1964 the garage Le Marois in Paris (the dealer for Austin, who also sold Delahaye and Delage parts), this car was purchased for the sum of 400 French Francs, as it was going to be scrapped. Roger Baillon therefore managed to save this car, like so many others, and thanks to this invoice for registration number 6943 BF 75 is on this car. With the help of Jean-Paul Tissot, the president of the Club Delahaye, we have found the chassis number, 818018, despite the absence of the nameplate. This is a very rare version of the Chapron “grand luxe”, which has the design characteristics of bulging fenders and according to Jean-Paul Tissot, just eight were made, out of a total of 41 sedans made by Chapron on the Delahaye 235 base. In the boot are various parts of the bumper, the front blade and the air filter, and the dashboard has its main instruments. On the left of the steering wheel one can see the little knob of the Cotal gearbox levers. The upholstery is relatively well preserved, with a beautiful patina. This model is of great rarity and is a very beautiful restoration project.
Delahaye 235 coach Chapron 818080 – sold for €119,200 Ex Roger Ballion Collection. Very rare model. Sound car, with beautifully preserved interior. Beautiful example of French coachbuilding. No reserve. This Delahaye 235 is definitely a rare example and, under the dust that has accumulated over 40 years of nonuse, the car appears to be complete and sound, with its wire wheels. Nothing has been touched or vandalized, the engine contains its accessories, but the best surprise is the interior: except for a tear in the passenger door and the bottom of the driver’s door, the seat leather is well preserved and has a beautiful patina with a manufacturing quality that shows the quality of Henri Chapron. The dashboard instruments look complete with the exception of the radio. The odometer shows 40,618km, and in the trunk, we found the spare wheel, jack and crank.
1950 Delahaye 235M Pillarless Saloon by Ghia 800514 – sold for €112,000 The streamlined Ghia-bodied Pillarless Saloon offered here was the brainchild of Mario Felice Boano, with striking hinged wheelhouse fairings. It was restored in 1990, when it was owned by the Blackhawk Collection and displayed at Pebble Beach. It was then sold in 2004 and more recently joined the growing O’Quinn Collection in Houston, Texas. Since then, it has been preserved in the collection and continues to present well, despite certain small cosmetic imperfections to the paint and interior. Rare and fascinating with stunning lines by Boano, this is certainly one of Delahaye’s more unique designs.