1948 Delahaye 135 MS
1948 Delahaye 135 MS
The car is a 1948 Delahaye 135 MS cabriolet by coachbuilder Franay. The 135 series cars were actually pre-war models, which were continued in a limited fashion post-war.
This individual car is a stunning example of both the coachbuilder's art and one of the last expressions of high art deco in automotive design. It also represents the swan song of European coachbuilding. In the late 1940s, American mass production techniques honed and refined during the war put an end to most coachbuilding as a viable means of production.
One of the wonderful things about this car is that it is featured in one of the most significant books on the Delahaye company, a book called Delahaye, la belle carrosier français. We found a copy on eBay, bought it and was delighted to find that this example is wonderfully illustrated in three pictures (one with a sexy model in full skirts and gloves).
There is nothing better than having original pictures of a car, especially one such as this where the provenance is a very important part of its value.
The Delahaye came from a French car builder whose vehicles were contemporaries of Ettore Bugatti's famous cars in the '20s and '30s. Delahaye, like Bugatti, even managed to survive for a short while post-war. Delahayes were, in their heyday, far more luxurious than almost any Bugatti to come from Molsheim and, in many cases, they were far more extravagant. Delahayes also ran on the tracks of Europe but not to the extent of Bugatti's creations.
Like Bugattis, Rolls-Royces and other great European pre-war luxury cars, most Delahayes were coach-built by independent companies to the whims and wishes of their purchasers. This resulted in many Delahayes numbering among some of the most exotic and unique cars in history. Any major concours d'elegance worth its weight in salt needs at least one on display. These cars also have a history of winning major events all over the world, including the most prestigious — Pebble Beach.
This particular one-off car, as mentioned earlier, was coach-built by a company called Franay. This builder had a reputation for the highest quality and engineering of any of the European carrossiers. It also had a talent for creating great works of elegance. While not as dramatic as some other cars by carrossiers such as Figoni et Falaschi, Franay-built Delahayes are distinctive and masterful works of art.
This car is no exception. It features long, voluminous front fenders, elegant grille work and side trim replete with fabulous French curves. The interior in its original leather is just as elegant as the exterior. The coachbuilder tipped its hat to the second half of the 20th century by created a transparent crystalline steering wheel and dash knobs. These are very fortunately immaculate, as restoring them would actually entail recreating them.
It is presently unrestored and was originally white. A previous owner owned it many years ago and, not liking the white, had it painted green. Now it needs a total repaint, which will be no hardship as the car is in immaculate original condition. It was well cared for and has no corrosion.
A very similar car well restored sold for $1.3-million recently.
Information on the 1948 Delahaye 135 MS
Interior: Beige Leather