- Built as a parade vehicle for King Mohammed V of Morocco
- Formerly owned by renowned enthusiast Dr. Erle M. Heath
- A stunning piece of postwar French coachwork, worthy of a royal
Following World War II, France’s renowned Delahaye expanded its line with new variations of the potent six-cylinder 135 that had been proven on the racing circuits and concours fields of the 1930s. The new models included the 180, a long-wheelbase frame intended for cushier coachwork, though it retained a variation of the 135 engine and boasted such innovations as Dubonnet front and de Dion rear suspension, as well as dual master brake cylinders.
According to “A Tour de Force by Carrosserie Franay” by Ken Gross, published in Automobile Quarterly Volume 19, Number 3, the 180 offered here was designed expressly by renowned French coachbuilders Franay for Mohammed V, King of Morocco. Mr. Gross quotes the New York Times as describing the King as a motoring enthusiast “who enjoyed driving his collection of automobiles ‘at breakneck pace on the excellent roads with which the French had endowed his country.’” Following the King’s passing in 1961, the car and his kingdom passed to his son, Hassan II. The essay notes that the Delahaye was afterward sold to William A. Gaston, then to Joseph Mingola, and finally to Dr. Erle M. Heath, the joie de vivre-filled Pittsburgh physician and collector of unusual automobiles.
“Mingola advised Dr. Heath that he had a rather unusual Delahaye with a royal pedigree,” Mr. Gross wrote, “and Heath purchased the car sight unseen. The 1950 Type 180 custom convertible limousine had very low mileage—pictures indicate it was used primarily as a parade car—and it was complete, in good mechanical condition. Dr. Heath restored and repainted the body and renewed the lavish red leather interior.” Subsequently the car passed from Dr. Heath’s collection to Tom Barrett, and finally into the care of the present collection some three decades ago. It has been refinished once more by Barrett around 1989, this time returning it to its original black color, but the interior is still that fitted by Dr. Heath, in well-patinated order.
This is a Delahaye of truly royal proportions, offering potential both as a spectacular design for the concours field and as a memorable “parade” vehicle for entertaining friends and family.