- Original cabriolet coachwork by Carrosserie Franay
- Beautiful lines and an iconic design from this great coachbuilder
- Desirable M specification with three-carburettor engine
- Older restoration that still presents well
Delahaye built its first automobile in 1894. Quality was high from the very beginning, and the company soon became a respected maker of robust if not exactly sporting vehicles. In 1935, the company launched the ground-breaking 135 model. It met with instant success and transformed the somewhat dusty image of the marque into something trendy and ritzy that appealed to the concours set, many of whom found a Hispano-Suiza or a Delage altogether too large and cumbersome.
In various permutations, the Delahaye 135 remained in production for an astounding 20 years and reigned supreme at the concours d’elegance in Paris, Biarritz and Monaco, fitted with luxurious, racy and stunning coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi, Saoutchik, Labourdette and of course, Franay. But times changed, and when chassis no. 801638 rolled out of the Carrosserie Franay works in 1950, it already represented a way of life that was virtually over. Clad in a unique one-off cabriolet body by one of the foremost coachbuilders in France, it was a costly exercise that few could afford. It was an elegant manifestation of hand-built exclusivity that would disappear in just a few years as technologically superior mass-produced unit-body machinery quashed the once-proud French coachbuilding industry. As such, this car is a rare and unique survivor from a time when the customer truly was king.
The 135M was originally sold through Baron Petiet’s sales organization, the Générale Française Automobile, which accounts for the GFA marking on the grille badge. From the 1950s to the 1990s, little is known about the car’s history. A period photo of 801638 is featured on page 146 of Delahaye: La Belle Carrosserie Française by Jean-Paul Tissot, foremost Delahaye historian and President of the French Club Delahaye.
In 1990, there is a record of 801638 being registered in Pennsylvania. In 1991, it was sold by Kelly Ford at DeKalb Leasing Co. to Lucinda Classic Motors in Vancouver, B.C., where it is believed to have remained until 1996 when it was purchased by the current owner. Today, chassis 801638 is a rare opportunity to acquire a very desirable and stylish French car in complete and authentic restorable condition that subsequently will be welcomed at any top concours in the world.