London | Lot 151

1938 Delahaye 135 MS Cabriolet Conversion



£207,000 GBP | Sold

United Kingdom | London, United Kingdom

6 September 2017

Chassis No.
Engine No.
  • Original Coach Mouette by Henri Chapron
  • Beautiful lines typical of this great coachbuilder
  • Cabriolet conversion performed by Bill Hinds
  • Extensively restored in the early 1990s
  • Equipped with its original matching-numbers engine

In 1935, Delahaye launched its groundbreaking 3.5-litre 135 model. The initial design was a smart two-door style called the Coupe des Alpes. Although the car was marketed as having a Delahaye factory body, it was in reality designed and built by the famous coachbuilder Henri Chapron, with whom Delahaye had struck a deal to provide a number of styles aimed at a sporting clientele. The 135 met with instant success and transformed the somewhat dusty image of the marque into something chic and ritzy that appealed to the concours set. In 1936, the engine was bored up to 3.6 litres to become the 135 M, and in the 135 MS set-up with three carburettors, no less than 135 bhp were on tap.

Delahaye had given the contract to build the ‘factory’ 135 bodies to Chapron, because the company did not have an in-house coachbuilding facility, and for the same reason, the 135 chassis was immediately made available to the trade. What followed until the breakout of the Second World War was a virtually endless parade of the most beautiful bodies ever made by the cream of French coachbuilding. For years, the 135, 135 M and 135 MS reigned supreme at the concours d’elegance in Paris, Biarritz and Monaco with luxurious, racy and stunning coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi, Saoutchik, Labourdette and of course, Chapron, who also made extravagant one-offs alongside the models made in small series.

The Chapron-design mounted on chassis number 60221 was called the Coach Mouette, a pillarless two-door, four-passenger closed car. Little is known about the early history. In 1980, the car was purchased by Ken Johnson, a collector in Malibu, California, who brought it to Bill Hinds’ restoration shop in Carmel, California. Mr Johnson desired a convertible and directed Bill Hinds to remove the fixed top and modify the body to accept a new convertible configuration, which the current owner considers far more attractive and desirable than the original design. The special Dragonfly hood ornament was an artistic creation designed and built by Hinds at that time. During its restoration, 60221 was upgraded mechanically to the desirable MS configuration, and the car was subsequently displayed by Ken Johnson at Pebble Beach in 1983. In 1991, it was sold to the present owner who carried out an extensive mechanical rebuild of the engine, which included attention to the cylinder head and crankshaft. In 2007, the Cotal electric gearbox was rebuilt.

Coming out of long-term ownership, chassis 60221 still presents beautifully. The gracefully flowing lines of master coachbuilder Henri Chapron and the understated grey-maroon colour combination unite to create a quintessential statement of le bon goût français, French good taste, that will be welcomed at concours and motoring events alike. Delahaye 60221 will be a prominent addition to any collection of pre-war cars, and especially French cars.

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