Emile Delahaye is one of the founding fathers of the Automobile Industry. Like his contemporaries Gottlieb Daimler, Ferdinand Porsche and Henry Ford, Delahaye built his first automobile before the turn of the twentieth century – in 1895. Emile Delahaye designed the early cars himself and he remained with the company he had founded after selling to two Paris-based industrialists, Léon Desmarais and Georges Morane, in 1897. In poor health, he retired in 1901, leaving Delahaye in the capable hands of production manager Charles Weiffenbach and engineer Amédée Varlet. By this time the company had left its original home in Tours and was re-established in the Morane family's factory in the Gobbelins district of Paris.
Most often associated with the successful sporting cars such as the T135 and their flamboyant, high-art deco style coachwork, Delahaye’s early products were mainly sensible and well-built but somewhat unexciting. The firm built single- and twin-cylinder models initially, and introduced its first four-cylinder car – the Type 11 – in 1903. They eventually branched out into commercial vehicle manufacture including medium duty trucks, buses and fire apparatus. By the outbreak of The Great War, Delahaye had established a reputation for quality and reliability and was ranked in the top ten of French carmakers. During WWI, Delahaye manufactured military trucks, FN rifles and parts for Hispano-Suiza aero engines.
Our featured 1911 Delahaye Type 413a started life in France as a fire engine built by Société Generale du Carrosserie et de Charronage of Paris, and was in service in south east France. After very little time in service, it was replaced by a larger machine that could cover a wider area. After it was decommissioned, the Delahaye found its way to the Musée de l'Automobile du Sud-Est in St Cannat (Provence) where it remained for many years. When the museum closed in 1973, the Delahaye was purchased by Michael Banfield, a well-known British fire engine enthusiast, who kept it for another 40 years with the intention of undertaking a restoration, though this was never carried out in his tenure. The Delahaye was registered in the UK in 1981 as LE 7485, records for which still appear in the DVLA database.
Following its time with Mr. Banfield, the wonderful Delahaye found a new owner in 2014 who commissioned a ground-up restoration, which included fitting the 12-seater charabanc-style body. The body is constructed of wood and finished to a high standard, in keeping with the quality and period feel of the chassis. Fenders and bonnet are excellent, with good quality finish that is period appropriate for a commercial vehicle. Gold coach stripes adorn the fenders, bonnet and wood-spoked wheels. During the restoration, the large wooden wheels were restored and updated to wear pneumatic tires which provide a more civilized ride as well as proving to be far more serviceable than the original solid-rubber tires. Loads of beautiful brass equipment includes period brass King of the Road headlamps, twin coach lamps, a winged Moto-Meter, brass windscreen frame and other trim pieces. The multiple rows of seats are all trimmed in matching black upholstery and appear in very good condition, remaining very fresh and virtually untouched since the restoration was completed in 2016. A full canvas soft top has also been fitted, which is completely removable for fair weather driving.
The big Delahaye is powered by a 3.0-litre, four-cylinder, sidevalve engine, which sends drive rearward via a Ferodo type cone clutch to a three-speed transaxle gearbox and dual-chain driven rear axle. To make it more accessible and enjoyable, a battery, charging system, and electric starter motor have been added, while the metal brakes have been converted to Ferodo friction linings, as well as the aforementioned pneumatic tires. The sale includes some older photographs as well as some documentation. This rare, fun and unique Delahaye would make an enjoyable parade vehicle or it could even be used for promotional work, but we envision it as the perfect toy for summer outings in the company of a big group of friends and family.