St. Moritz | Lot 124
1946 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet by Graber
CHF297,500 | Sold
| St. Moritz, Switzerland
17 September 2021
- An exceptional clean, modern design on the finest of post-war French chassis
- Understood to be one of only two 135M Cabriolet examples built by Graber of Switzerland
- Restored in 1998 by Richard Gorman of Vantage Motor Works in Miami
- Refinished in 2021 in its present, rich dark blue; well-maintained red leather interior
- Appears in a number of historical books about the Delahaye marque
With its elegant blend of both pre- and post-war styling, the Delahaye 135M is an example of long-lasting and successful French automotive design. The model represented the ambition of Delahaye to build a sporty, race-ready car, and soon became known as the “Coupe des Alpes” in reference to the company’s earlier success with the model in the Alpine Rally.
First introduced in 1935, the 135 series had a long production run of 19 years, spanning many unique body types constructed by a long list of coachbuilders. By the end of World War II, the 135M resumed production with the same 3.6-litre engine (versus the 3.0-liter engine initially used in the 135) made before production was halted. The model’s days were numbered, however, as the French government imposed heavy taxes on cars with an engine displacement over 3.0 litres. This move ended contemporary production, but the 135M lives on to this day as a highly coveted collector car.
This example, chassis number 800320, is thought to be one of only two examples of the Delahaye 135M Cabriolet constructed by the Swiss coachbuilder Hermann Graber. Renowned to have worked with contemporary marques including Bugatti, Hotchkiss, and Talbot, Graber’s style was noteworthy for integrating high wing lines into his designs while ensuring the car did not appear too large to the eye, thanks to the deft use of flowing, rounded shapes. He also refrained from working with excess chrome or fittings for a clean-cut and uncomplicated exterior.
Completed in 1946, this Delahaye was delivered new to a Swiss banker. Following his passing, it would remain with his estate and in storage until 1995. The car’s second owner presided over a collection of around 70 cars, who sold the 135M to its next owner, Dr. Reuter, a Swiss professor. In 1998, Dr. Reuter sent the car to the marque expert, Richard Gorman of Vantage Motor Works in Miami, Florida, where it would undergo restoration work to the tune of nearly $100,000, as invoices on file attest. In 1999, the car was offered for sale at auction in New York.
As invoices on file dated 2005–2009 indicate, the meticulously restored Delahaye continued to enjoy care and maintenance in the intervening years as-need. More recently, in early 2021, the car was refinished in the same shade of rich, dark blue it received during its prior restoration; this dramatic shade pairs wonderfully with the well-maintained red leather interior and blue fabric hood. Wire wheels complete the sporting look.
In a testament to its appeal, this 135M Cabriolet has appeared in select books about Delahaye, including Delahaye, La Belle Carrosserie Française and Delahaye, Le Grand Livre. It was further featured in the June 2012 issue of Vintage Roadcar, in an article that emphasized the delightful on-road attributes of this rarefied offering.
Featuring stunning Swiss-built coachwork by Graber on an athletic chassis, this Delahaye 135M Cabriolet would be a most elegant addition to any collection of fine European automobiles—and a truly grand open-topped tourer for voyages short and long.