Delahaye 135 Special Court Competition for Auction

Discussion in 'Classic Cars' started by Richard Owen, Apr 23, 2009.

  1. Worldwide Auctioneers Houston Classic Auction
    Saturday, May 2, 2009
    Seabrook, Texas 77586

    ESTIMATE:Available - Upon Request
    CHASSIS NO:46809

    The car offered here, 1936 Delahaye 135 S 46809, is one of Figoni's earliest expressions of automobile coachwork as a drop of dense fluid in a fast-moving stream of less density. The concept of beauty was probably never far from Figoni's mind, but in 1936 it was practicality in the forefront. He was designing lightweight, streamlined coachwork that would let Delahaye's 135 S chassis and engine achieve the maximum performance and comfort in long distance road races, combined with practicality and luxury in high speed cruising. It combines function and beauty in a pure, simple, essential expression. Later more extravagant Figoni & Falaschi coachwork would substitute flamboyant effect for practical effectiveness, rendering this early, pure expression of the teardrop form on the truly high performance Delahaye 135 S chassis as a high point of the idiom.

    It was created for Jean Tremoulet who would two years later in 1938 team with this car's third owner, Eugene Chaboud, to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in an open-bodied Delahaye 135 S. This is a highly unusual automobile, even for Delahaye which tailored almost every one of its cars to individual owners' requirements. It combines the short ('court') 2,700mm wheelbase with all the Delahaye competition modifications including 102 litre fuel tank, enlarged radiator, and alloy brake backing plates chosen to reduce unsprung weight and increase brake cooling. It also has a special Cotal Mk33SS preselector four-speed gearbox with overdrive fourth speed.

    The engine is a very special 135J competition engine. It is based on a different cylinder block casting with a water passage added between cylinders two and three, a high capacity water pump located lower on the block and additional oiling passages near number two and four cylinders. The cylinder head also is unique to this engine type, developed for the most demanding and competitive races like Le Mans. The cylinder head casting is wider, with bigger valves, different rocker arm assemblies improved porting and much higher compression, 9.5:1 against 8.4:1 for most Type 135 Delahayes. Remarkably, every exterior surface of this engine has been machined to remove all excess material. Only one other engine is known to have received this treatment by Delahaye: the Type 135 S driven by Tremoulet and Chaboud to win the 1938 Le Mans 24 Hours. According to Andre Vaucour, the Archivist of the Club Delahaye, just 25 short chassis Type 135s were built in order to homologate the type for racing. Only about 10 were actually built for racing with the balance assembled with road engines and suspensions.

    Tremoulet had Figoni & Falaschi create a very special body for the high performance Type 135 S coupe, an all-alloy masterpiece that is believed to be the first to use a boxed 10cm extension of the frame at the back to give it a longer, more gentle slope that is both more aerodynamic and blends harmoniously with the slope of the teardrop front and rear fender shapes. Accented by the 'sweepspear' which Figoni made famous, its raked windshield, radiator, door shape, hood louvers, and side windows all complement the sleek, wind-swept form of the coachwork. Skirted rear wheels accent the hunched down aspect of the chassis and body. The split rear window and small finned spline down the rear of the body add an anthropomorphic touch that gives the teardrop coupe the slippery stance of a sea creature. Research by M. Vaucourt, the Club Delahaye's archivist, has traced its history essentially from new when it was built for Jean Tremoulet. The second owner, Albert Perrot, also was a competition driver, racing at Le Mans in 1928 in a Salmson. Eugene Chaboud acquired it from Perrot in July 1938 just after winning Le Mans and owned it until the late 1940s when it was sold to Claude Columeau, owner of a garage near Paris where it remained until it was discovered by the immediately preceding owner, Roger Tainguy, in June 2000.

    Claude Figoni has confirmed to M. Vaucour that this is the only teardrop berlinetta built entirely of aluminum.

    It appears in several racing results in the late Thirties in France including the 1936 Coupe d'Automne driven by Jean Tremoulet. It had an 11th place finish for Eugene Chaboud in the 1938 Paris-Nice International and fourth with Chaboud and Claude Perrot in the 1938 12 Hours of Paris at Montlhery. Another appearance at Montlhery in 1938 with Tremoulet and at the 1939 Course de Cote de la Turbie with Chaboud complete its known competition history but further research may reveal other races. What is known suggests an intriguing history among several very competent driver/owners who were ideally positioned to appreciate ' and to take advantage of ' the unique combination of performance, style, and comfort of this lightweight Delahaye 135S competition teardrop.

    It had been disassembled for restoration some time before it was acquired by Tainguy who completed the restoration, paying primary attention to the chassis and driveline. The coachwork was remarkably well preserved, including all its original body panels and interior upholstery. The original wood framing was marked throughout with the body number, 556. During the restoration any weak wood was replaced but all the original structural wood was retained and goes with the car. The rear section of the bodywork and roofline have been corrected and painstakingly restored to accurate original configuration as shown in its earliest known photos. Old photos of the car on the road show it with bumpers. They come with the car, but are not original Figoni & Falaschi pieces, apparently being fitted to it at a later time to protect it when driven on the streets of Paris.

    It has been fitted with triple downdraft Solex carburetors for street driving although the three sidedraft Solexes as originally installed come with the car so it can be driven and displayed in its authentic, original configuration. The Marchal headlights and trafficators add to its drivability as does the sliding sunroof which was fitted when new to almost all the Figoni & Falaschi teardrop coupes. With rollup windows, this is a very comfortable and rewarding road car. It runs and drives superbly (the owner compares its handling, responsiveness, ride, and performance with a 250 GT Ferrari). It is finished in black with maroon accent, matching maroon leather upholstery, beige headliner and interior trim, and lovely carved walnut interior trim and cappings with characteristic Figoni & Falaschi joinery. The dashboard is graced with a full set of white-faced Delahaye-labeled gauges and a beautiful spring spoke steering wheel. With its overdrive fourth gear, it will cruise all day at 80 miles an hour. The engine was rated at 160 horsepower by Delahaye but with modern materials, machining, tolerances, and tuning is probably putting out nearly 200 brake horsepower in its current form.

    This is one the first Figoni & Falaschi teardrop coupes, if not the very first built. Its all alloy bodywork is unique, not only in its all alloy-construction but also in its 10cm extended and much more graceful and harmonious tail. It has spent nearly all of its life in Europe and has not been seen, much less available to an American audience. Restored to high standards, its performance is ample explanation of its appeal to its two Le Mans winning race driver/owners, and it will reward its next owner on the show field at Pebble Beach where it has recently been accepted to debut for the very first time, but perhaps even more so on events like the Mille Miglia, California Mille, or Colorado Grand.
  2. Beautiful is an inadequate word all of a sudden..
  3. Holy shit, that's gorgeous. And it's not overdone like many of these things seem to be, all the better for it.
  4. someone needs to revive the brand, in a better way than Bugatti.
  5. Sold for 1.9 million USD. Image by Dan Vaughn of
  6. Sold for 1.9 million USD. Image by Dan Vaughn of
  7. Before Restoration
  8. Looks much better pre-restoration.
  9. They removed the original bumper. I wonder what color it was originally. I have images of a sister car from Pebble Beach '01 I believe.
  10. No, the high bid was 1.9$, but it did not sell at that price as the reserve was put higher. <A BORDER="0" HREF=""><IMG BORDER="0" SRC="pitlane/emoticons/smile.gif"></A>

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