Amelia Island | Lot 215
1909 Delaunay-Belleville Type IA6 Victoria by Brewster
Offered from the Leon-Hackney Collection
$196,000 USD | Sold
| Amelia Island, Florida
9 March 2019
- Offered from the Leon-Hackney Collection
- “The Car Magnificent,” one of the great French Brass Era automobiles
- The first French car manufacturer to offer a six-cylinder engine
- Elaborate Victoria coachwork by one of America’s finest coachbuilders
- Formerly owned by noted early collectors George Waterman and Burt Upjohn
- A prized part of the collection since 1975
- Offered with a historical and technical file
The Delaunay-Belleville was one of the grand French automobiles of the Brass Era, respected throughout the world for advanced engineering such as monobloc engines with fully pressurized lubrication, driven by a pump off the crankshaft. It was considered the equal of Rolls-Royce or Panhard et Levassor, and was instantly recognizable by its round honeycomb radiator, a deliberate reminder of the boilers that the company had earlier produced. Delaunay-Belleville was also the first French manufacturer to offer a six-cylinder engine.
This particular Type IA6, featuring a 2.6-liter six-cylinder engine, is one of 185 built and undoubtedly very few delivered to the U.S. It was bodied by the famed New York coachbuilders Brewster as a handsome open victoria, an ideal summer conveyance for someone’s Newport cottage, with a “cape top” but no windows, side curtains, or doors. Indeed, the car was eventually located at Newport by the pioneering collector, George Waterman, who installed it in his famous collection in Providence, Rhode Island, likely in the 1940s.
The car was acquired from Waterman in 1968 by pharmaceutical heir and respected enthusiast, Burt Upjohn of Kalamazoo, Michigan, who maintained it for several years as part of his wonderful collection, still in pristine original condition. Jay and Berta Leon acquired the Delaunay-Belleville from Mr. Upjohn in 1975, with the couple traveling to Michigan to collect this car and the 1928 Rolls-Royce Phantom I also in the collection. “You can be assured that . . . this is one of the most fantastic automobiles any place,” Mr. Upjohn wrote the new owners. “I have driven this car thousands and thousands of miles with my family, with virtually no problems. It went up and down Pike’s Peak without incident.”
Upon the Delaunay-Belleville’s arrival back home, they set about improving it with a cosmetic restoration, including new paint and upholstery, mechanical repairs, and detailing by local specialists in Texas. With the largely cosmetic restoration complete in 1983, it was exhibited at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Complete with iron tools, the Delaunay remains in lovely, well-preserved overall condition and has a very authentic appearance, with the original serial number tag and frame and engine stampings still visible, confirming that it has always been an intact and well-cared-for machine. It is a spectacular Brass Era automobile, deserving of another fine home where its superb provenance and elaborate styling will be as beloved as it has been for the last 43 years.