1938 Delahaye 135 MS

  • 1938 Delahaye 135 MS for sale
  • Fully restored between 1989 and 1991
  • Figoni et Falaschi-style coachwork
  • Recent engine overhaul by Jim Stokes Workshops

Few cars can match the flowing style and elegance of 1930s French designs, as exemplified by this beautiful example of Delahaye’s famous 135 model.

Built to high-performance ‘Modifée Speciale’ specification, chassis number 49346 was discovered in America in 1988 and brought to the UK by a well-known marque enthusiast. A two-year rebuild was then commissioned, a process that involved removing the non-original body with which the car had been found. This was replaced by coachwork that was painstakingly constructed by Peter Agg’s Trojan company in the style of Paris-based carrosserie Figoni et Falaschi.

The chassis was shot-blasted and painted, and the suspension and steering systems were overhauled. The brakes were upgraded to a Delahaye 148-style hydraulic set-up and the transmission was rebuilt. 

The 3.5-litre, triple-carburettor, six-cylinder engine was rebuilt, the wiring was replaced throughout, and the interior was retrimmed in leather and Wilton carpet; a new mohair soft-top was also fitted. 

When the work was completed in 1991, the Delahaye was given the UK registration HSK 278 and its owner spent the next two years covering approximately 3000 miles while touring and taking part in rallies. More recently, the engine was rebuilt in 2020 by renowned specialist Jim Stokes Workshops Ltd. 

With its sweeping wings, enclosed rear wheels and bold chrome details, this Delahaye 135 MS is an eye-catching Post-Vintage Thoroughbred, but its mechanical specification means that there’s plenty of substance to go with the style. As proven by its previous owner, it’s a fine choice of touring car as well as being a design that would grace any concours field. 

Now being offered for sale by the Classic Motor Hub, it has been awarded a Certificat d’Origine by the French Club Delahaye and comes with two folders full of history and paperwork.

Model history

Former railway engineer Emile Delahaye built his first car in 1895, and two years later he moved his company from Tours to Paris. The first four-cylinder design – as opposed to the earlier ‘twins’ – followed in 1903 and the marque’s cars were steadily updated in the years before the First World War. 

Known for a long time as being a rather conservative manufacturer, Delahaye had a change of direction in 1934 when it launched the ‘Superluxe’. Available with stylish coachwork, independent front suspension, and a choice of four- or six-cylinder engines, this was the forerunner of the 135, which would be launched the following year. 

During this period, Delahaye had merged with Delage, and the latter’s sporting know-how was clearly being shared with its new stablemate. The 135 was initially available with a six-cylinder overhead-valve engine of 3.2 litres – later enlarged to 3.5 litres for the 135M – and either a manual gearbox or a four-speed Cotal electro-magnetic unit. 

Bodywork was supplied by the greatest French coachbuilders of the time – Chapron, Figoni et Falaschi, Saoutchik, Pourtout – and Delahaye had shrugged off its previously conservative nature with a new model that offered both luxury and performance. 

It was the latter that attracted enthusiast drivers to the 135 model, and it’s little wonder that it was soon chalking up significant competition success. Henri Toulouse and Marcel Mongin finished fifth overall in the 1935 Le Mans 24 Hours in a 3.2-litre 135, and in 1937 a pair of 135MS cars finished second and third. Then, in 1938, Eugene Chaboud and Jean Tremoulet took overall victory at La Sarthe in their 135CS.

A 135 also won the 1937 Monte Carlo Rally, and the model lived on after the Second World War. It even formed the basis for the 235, which was launched in 1951. Sadly, Delahaye car production ended in 1954 after the company had been taken over first by Hotchkiss and then Brandt. 

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