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Delahaye was probably one of the most revered luxury brand of the late “entre deux guerre” (in between wars). Founded in 1894, the “Societe des Automobiles Delahaye” took a pivotal direction in 1932 - influenced by Madame Leon Desmarais - majority shareholder and widow of early investor Leon Desmarais. Delahaye would focus on creating high quality automotive chassis and reopen the racing department. In 1935, quickly becoming competitive and winning events, Delahaye introduced the Type 135, also known as the “Coupe des Alpes”. It became perhaps the most iconic Delahaye model, synonym of high performance with exceptional style.
As an automotive chassis provider - the DELAHAYE Type 135 buyer had to select its own Coachbuilder. The list of independent artworkers is prestigious: Letourneur & Marchand, Chapron, Figoni, Saoutchik, Franay and others. Gorgeous lacquered paint, shiny chromes and Art Deco curvaceous lines largely contributed to the Type 135 legend. Even though this customization was a questionable business decision in the French afterwar automotive market - which might have contributed to DELAHAYE demise - the Type 135 of today leaves us with a witness of the Avant Garde grandeur of the 1930’s - when a luxury automobile was also a unique piece of art.
For this Type 135M, the original customer, Mr Leblanc, selected Chapron as his custom body maker. Known for a style not as flamboyant as Figoni or Saoutchik, Chapron body work is recognized for his aerodynamic lines balanced with a delicate sense of restraint - typical of French clacissism. Always finding the right balance between banality and exuberance, Chapron left us with magnificent cars who defy the trends and ages to simply be beautiful.
Delahaye introduced the first Type 135 in 1935 - a 3.2 liter with 95 horsepower in twin carburetor configuration or 110 horsepower in tri carburetor. Then, to cater to the interest in higher performance, the type 135M was launched in 1936 with larger displacement - 3.6 liter - with 90, 105 or 115 horsepower in single, twin or tri carburetors. In 1939, a sportier version, the 135MS was released with a similar 3.6 liter tri carburetor setup delivering from 120 to 145 horsepower. Production was halted during the war and resumed in 1945 until 1952. This Type 135MS is powered by the familiar Type 135 3.6 liters straight six engine fitted with a ‘84R’ high lift camshaft and delivers 145 horsepower. The fuel is fed through three down draft Solex carburetors ( 40PAI) and the transmission is a 4-speed MK38 Cotal gearbox.
- 1948–1949: ordered purchased by Monsieur Leblanc in Paris
- February 1963: Numbered 321 KV 57 in Moselle (East of France) – unknown owner
- From July 1963 to March 1967: Numbered 22HV83, belongs to Monsieur Michel Picard
- 10th March 1967 sold to Paul DOURLENS - mechanic at Bruay en Artois
- 27th July 2009: purchased by JWA Classics
This car was first acquired between 1948 and 1949 - the first order being placed in 1st March 1948 and the final invoice issued on the 23rd of March 1949. The owner was Monsieur Leblanc, director of the “Distilleries de Bretagne et de Normandie reunies” - United distilleries of Brittany and Normandy. Monsieur Leblanc lived in 5 rue Lincoln in Paris; a street adjacent to the famous Champs Elysees. Coincidently, the DELAHAYE flagship store was located just at the junction between Rue Lincoln and the 75 Champs Elyses - where is today located the renowned “Patissier Laduree”. Did Monsieur Leblanc admire the “Grandes Routieres” on his way to or back from work? Our imagination lets us believe that he might. Countless times… The documents gathered from Chapron archives shows that the choices of the model, options and personalized settings was done meticulously – which could explain the time between first order (March 1948) and final invoice (March 1949). The final amount was 693,640 Francs - for the bodywork alone. For comparison, the annual median worker salary in 1949 was 250,000 Francs. We don’t know how long Monsieur Leblanc retained his Type 135M. The next owner record was Monsieur Michel Picard in 1963, an architect living in Lavandou - on the “Cote d’Azur” (southeast of France on Mediterranean coast). 28 years after the launch of Type 135, DELAHAYE is now defunct, together with HOTCHKISS and DELAGE. The French Automotive market is booming with focus on mass produced affordable cars for “Monsieur tout le monde” – mid affluent market - and the “Trentes Glorieuse” - economic boom period from 1945~1975 leaves people focused on “Le Progres” – technologic and society evolution with little interest in pre-war design synonyms then of “archaic” times forever gone. In 1966, Monsieur Michel Picard will separate himself from the Type 135M and sell it to a mechanic for salvaging. The mechanic – perhaps sensitive to the beauty of this “Grande Routiere” – sold it to an amateur for the modest sum of 150 Francs instead of bringing it the scrapeyard. At this time, the annual median worker salary was 10,000 Francs. Modern times and societal progress can be ruthless. There is no more information until 2009 when JWA Classics acquires this car - “dans son jus” – non running wreck - with the goal to restore it to its prime elegance.