Lot 3165

Gene Ponder Collection

1936 Delahaye Grand Prix Recreation


$209,000 USD | Sold

United States | Marshall, Texas



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  • Stunning recreation of a French interwar competition legend
  • Built in the 1980s by the respected Argentine Delahaye specialist Rodolfo Iriarte
  • Equipped with a rebuilt Delahaye truck engine
  • Clothed in purpose-built lightweight aluminum coachwork
  • A faithful recreation that can be thoroughly enjoyed during spirited driving in vintage events

At the 1935 Paris Salon, Delahaye introduced a new model on a lowered chassis that continued the company’s recent trend toward high-performance automobiles. The Type 135 was initially available in three different states of tune: a base-level Sport model, an uprated Competition model, and the top-performance Special model. Many examples were finished as touring cars clothed by the era’s most fashionable coachbuilders, including Henri Chapron, Joseph Figoni, Marius Franay, Marcel Pourtout, and Jacques Saoutchik, while factory competition and privateer racing examples were produced in far smaller numbers, sometimes built on a shortened-wheelbase chassis.

In competition specifications the 3.5-liter Type 135 engine was generally fitted with three carburetors, developing 110 horsepower. With its sport-tuned chassis and powerful motor, the 135 was quite successful in European racing events, claiming 2nd and 3rd place at the 1936 24 Hours of Spa, 2nd and 3rd place at the 1937 24 Hours of Le Mans, and a 1-2 finish at the 1938 24 Hours of Le Mans, among many other victories. Produced up until Delahaye’s closure in 1954, the Type 135 was built in a quantity of less than 3,000 examples, only a small percentage of which were completed as open grand prix racecars. Surviving examples of these celebrated competition cars have evolved into the centerpieces of some of today’s most respected collections, sharing a top-shelf niche with contemporaneous cars by Bugatti and Talbot-Lago, among others.

This splendid recreation of a Delahaye 135 CS Grand Prix car was built during the 1980s in Argentina by Rodolfo Iriarte. Mr. Iriarte is well known in the niche for crafting exacting recreations of the highest quality, using old-world techniques to hand-form faithful aluminum coachwork. An architect by trade, he forged a reputation as a brilliant engineer and fabricator of quality racecar recreations from his suburban Buenos Aires location, often building his creations around modified Delahaye truck and bus engines sourced from Uruguay.

In the case of the featured lot, Mr. Iriarte based his work on engine number 833049, an authentic Delahaye type 11 S 103 engine that originally powered a Laffly type BSS 163 firetruck, per the records of Club Delahaye president Jean-Paul Tissot. This engine number has been stamped on the chassis frame, which was possibly sourced from a period Delahaye touring car and shortened to racing specifications. The engine was desirably rebuilt in the triple-carbureted configuration that powered so many period Delahayes to victory in competition.

The quality of this recreation is evident in numerous details, from the precisely shaped teardrop cycle-wing fenders, shield-shaped grille, and louvered panel work, to the boat-tail rear end, all of which bear a strong resemblance to the rare and successful 1936 Type 135 CS competition car. The rear center-placed fuel filler, machine-turned dash panel, Brooklands-style windscreen, and Delahaye-branded leather retaining straps only further add to the car’s considerable panache as a well-conceived copy, an appearance that is cemented by the coachwork’s finish in French racing blue.

Following the build’s completion, Mr. Iriarte campaigned the car in numerous vintage racing events in South America during the 1980s, and more recently the car passed to a collector in Spain who enjoyed it once or twice a year on local circuits. Acquired by Mr. Ponder in June 2018, the recreation is said to have been completely refinished during his ownership tenure, including the fitment of a blue leather interior that pairs wonderfully with its French racing blue exterior. Its front cycle fenders were dramatically reworked and fitted with polished metal accents on their leading edges, and ADC Enterprises of Ferris, Texas fabricated a bug screen that folds flat to the bonnet while not in use. Today, this special car presents with astonishing flair.

Genuine Delahaye competition roadsters are among the most valuable and collectable European racecars of the interwar period, and this fine recreation therefore offers a commensurate amount of performance and aesthetic value at a fraction of the investment. The future caretaker can thoroughly flog this car in vintage competition events without worrying if he is potentially maligning a proper piece of history, assuring the potential for hours of carefree track time on racing circuits or vintage rallies. Likewise, the expertly crafted aluminum coachwork and rebuilt Delahaye engine bear many of the hallmarks of a genuine Delahaye grand prix car, making the nicely finished re-creation an ideal complement to any sporting collection.