1949 Delahaye 135 Ghia Coupe

In the 1930s, Delahaye enjoyed elite status among the top French automakers, earning its lauded reputation in the dust and grit of Le Mans and international Grand Prix racing. The 1935 model year marked the arrival of the superlative Type 135. A natural-born performer in motorsport, the Type 135 chassis was also a darling of the prestigious French coachbuilding industry, providing the perfect canvas for Chapron, Franay, Figoni et Falaschi, and others to work their magic.

As the dust settled after World War II, France emerged from the rubble battered but far from broken. Delahaye returned to work, initially producing a 3 ½ -ton truck to pay the bills as they rebuilt. In 1946, the Type 135M returned, and Delahaye was finally back in the sports car business. Engineers revised the 135 chassis with a widened track for better handling and improved the overhead valve six-cylinder engine, offering up to 130 horsepower for the "MS" and considerably more for racing. As before the War, high-profile coachbuilders applied the latest post-war aesthetic to the superb chassis. Ultimately, 1155 examples of the post-war Type 135 were produced through 1952, but sadly for Delahaye, company fortunes meant the once great marque would not survive past 1954.

This unique example of a landmark model from one of motoring's most charismatic brands wears audacious coachwork by Carrosserie Ghia-Aigle - the Swiss offshoot of the famous Italian styling house. Founded on 30th April 1948 as Carrosserie Ghia SA, Aigle by Torinese physician Dr. Pierre-Paul Filippi, the firm bodied cars in Switzerland to Ghia designs. At the time, Turin-based Carrozzeria Ghia was owned by Mario Boano, who styled many of the early post-war designs. Subsequent work came from the pens of Giovanni Michelotti and then Pietro Frua.

The car offered here, chassis number '800573', left the Delahaye works at rue du Banquier, Paris, in June 1949 in the ultimate high-performance 'MS' configuration, equipped with the triple-carburetor engine and Cotal-Maag electromagnetic gearbox, featuring four forward and four reverse gears. The fabulous Ghia-Aigle body is a one-off design – a four-place coupe with flowing coke-bottle lines and distinctive wheel spats at all four corners, which can be lifted by pulling a lever to facilitate tire changes. According to an article in the French magazine 'Auto Passion' (Issue No. 67, April 1992), this car featured at the 1950 Geneva Motor Show before being sold to its first owner, Automobilwerke Franz AG, a company based in Zurich, Switzerland and it was first registered on 16th June 1950.

Chassis 800573 changed hands again in Switzerland in 1957 and was reportedly in France before being restored in 1990, the bodywork entrusted to Jean-Luc Bonnefoy of Saint-Amond-Montrond and the interior renewed by M Pardini et Fils of Boulogne. The entirety of the car was finished to a high standard, as evident in its current condition. In December 1993, the car changed hands again, finding a new owner in France. The Delahaye was exhibited at Techno Classica, Essen, in March 2012, selling to an Austrian-based collector and remaining in the care of European collectors through most recent ownership.

As offered, this remarkable Delahaye is in excellent condition, the high-quality restoration having aged quite well. It is finished in an appropriately bold livery of aubergine over butterscotch leather with vivid blue accents. Paint and brightwork are in excellent order, with only minor signs of use evident upon close inspection. The interior also reflects the care of its previous owners through lightly creased leather and some minor imperfections in the carpet, but a tidy and finely detailed presentation. Ghia-Aigle's space-age streamlined coachwork is akin to a post-war interpretation of the fully-skirted pre-war designs from Figoni et Falaschi, and it makes a bold statement on the road or concours field.

Mechanically, the car retains its original inline-six fitted with a trio of Solex carburetors. The engine compartment is pleasingly detailed with polished alloy accents and period-correct wiring and plumbing. The powerful 'six is backed by a Cotal gearbox as equipped from new, making it a superb choice for continental touring. Evocatively styled and beautifully finished, this charismatic Delahaye will undoubtedly capture the attention of onlookers wherever it takes its next custodian.


Offers welcome and trades considered 



Stock number 7427

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