- An elegant post-war example bodied by Henri Chapron
- Specifically built for and owned by Louis Chiron, the renowned Bugatti driver
- Just six owners from new, with one private owner from 1971 to present
- Subject to an extensive nut-and-bolt restoration by Delahaye expert Paillet in 2012
- Presented with copies of Chapron paperwork, correspondence between Chiron and Chapron, a Delahaye inspection note, and period restoration photographs
- Buyers should note that at the time of cataloguing, an export licence for this car has been applied for. Please speak to an RM Sotheby’s Car Specialist to find out more
At the 1934 Paris Auto Salon, Delahaye unveiled the Type 135. Unlike the earlier and lesser-known, yet related Type 138 that had launched the previous year, the 135 featured a lowered chassis, lending itself to beautiful hand-built coachwork. It was supplied with a 3.2-litre straight-six engine, breathing through twin-Solex carburettors and producing 95 horsepower. The Parisian marque offered a sporting version of the 135, dubbed the 135 MS—standing for Modifiée Speciale—with these examples supplied with triple carburettors and power output that ranged from 120 to 160 horsepower.
The low-slung Type 135 chassis proved popular with high society with orders coming from movie stars, military leaders, politicians, royalty and socialites. Type 135s were often bodied by the great French coachbuilders of the era, such as Henri Chapron, Joseph Figoni, Marius Franay, Alphonse Guilloré, and Jaques Saoutchik. At the hands of these master coachbuilders, some of the most elegant designs were built on Type 135 chassis. The model sold well, as it embodied the typical Delahaye traits of reliability, good handling and extravagant coachwork. Following the end of the Second World War, the coachwork of 135s became less elaborate. However, as noted by Delahaye expert Richard Adatto, ‘Chapron continued to respect the shape of the traditional radiator grille and his drawings remain faithful to the spirit of the original sports chassis.’
The Delahaye Type 135’s performance and Chapron’s classic styling clearly caught the attention of Louis Chiron in 1946. Chiron, a famous racing driver who drove for a number of teams in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, also competed in the early years of Formula 1. He holds the record for the most podium finishes in a Bugatti, and the Molsheim-based marque’s peerless Chiron model was named in his honour.
This example, chassis 800390, was commissioned by Chiron in “MS” specification. Included in the history file is a letter from Chiron to Chapron dated 2 November 1946, within which the Bugatti man confirmed he had received the drawings for the coachwork and was happy with them, so asked Chapron to commence construction of the body, also that should there be any changes, he will meet him in Paris to discuss. According to copies of Chapron’s records, chassis 800390 entered the carrossier on 4 December 1946, where it was bodied as a two-door Sport Coupé featuring “torpedo wings”. The body was painted in two-tone “bleu ciel” over blue Miami and the interior upholstered in red leather. Chiron specified in a letter to Chapron that a loud foot-operated horn should be installed. A Delahaye inspection note confirms the car had completed its checks and was signed off on 9 April 1947. Chiron was sent an invoice by Chapron on 15 July 1947 for the construction of the car, which totalled an impressive 550,000 francs after a 100,000-franc discount.
Chiron registered his Delahaye in Monaco on the number plate “MC 715”, and period photographs on file depict Chiron with the car. He sold his Type 135 MS to Gabriel Canda of Rougegoutte in July 1952, just three months later the car was placed under the name of Société des Lames de Rasoirs in Levallois-Perret, Paris. The fourth owner of chassis 800390, Monsieur Moisesco, acquired the car on 22 December 1954, retaining it for just 11 months before selling to Henri Rober on 8 November 1955. Monsieur Rober owned this example for nearly 16 years before selling to the current owner, who registered the vehicle on 11 June 1971.
Towards the end of the current custodian’s five-decade ownership, the decision was taken to restore this historically significant Delahaye, with the work carried out in France by Paillet, a leading Delahaye specialist, in 2012. The body and chassis were split and the restoration began from the ground up. The wooden Chapron framework was replaced, and then reassembled, while a new red leather interior was fitted and the car was painted in a dark metallic blue with silver accents. Photographs on file document the restoration process and show the car prior to being restored.
This 1947 Delahaye 135 MS Coupé Sport represents an exciting chance to acquire a beautiful French coach-built classic with fascinating ownership history and an impressive history file.