1948 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet by Henri Chapron For Sale by Auction
Estimate: 260.000 - 310.000€
Starting bid: 210.000€
Auction ends on Saturday, October 26 at 7:00PM (Paris)
Delahaye is certainly one of the brands that has made beautiful coachwork’s lovers dream the most. Her "135" model, which was created in the mid-1930s, inspired the great coachworkers more than any other. From the wisest to the most exuberant, not to mention the great classics, everyone has tried their hand at this wonderful chassis with its ideal proportions to give free rein to their creativity. Because, by tradition, and ultimate luxury, a Delahaye client could choose the coachworker of his choice, the manufacturer simply delivering "chassis-engine" so that the finished car would be delivered with unparalleled personalization.
The coachwork of the motorcar we are presenting was made by Henri Chapron, who was certainly the undisputed representative of the great French classicism. Halfway between the deliberately "futuristic" lines of some and the too banal productions of others, Henri Chapron always knew how to cultivate the right balance by producing cars that are simply beautiful, timeless and above all made to be driven.
Mr Leblanc, manager of the Distilleries de Bretagne and Normandie réunies, was the very first owner of the Delahaye 801025. Mr. Leblanc used to live at number 5 rue Lincoln, in Paris. For the record, the late Jean-Pierre Bernard, who was the first president of the Delahaye Club, told during the historical research conducted by the seller that "The" Delahaye Parisian showroom was on the Avenue des Champs Elysées, just at the corner of rue Lincoln. One cannot help but think that Mr. Leblanc, in the morning or evening, on his way to or from work, had to stop many times to contemplate the models on display. The place was precisely at 75, Avenue des Champs Elysées, where the famous pastry chef "Ladurée" is nowadays located.
The documents that are in the seller's possession - from the Chapron archives - show that the choice of model, options and personalised arrangements have been made with care. Indeed, the first purchase order dates from the 1st of March 1948 but the final invoice was issued on March 23rd 1949. The price was 693,640 Franc, for the coachwork only. And more than 86,000 Franc in taxes. Namely, the average annual salary (wage) of a worker in 1949 was about 250 000 Franc. We do not know how long Mr Leblanc has kept the car, but we still find it in 1963 in the hands of Mr Michel Picard, an architect living in Le Lavandou, in the Var department.
Barely twenty years after the Delahaye was put into service, times have changed significantly. Fashion is for Mr. Average’s car and only a few enthusiasts are still interested in these productions considered now as incongruous and an image of a forever gone era.
In 1966, Michel Picard, the owner at the time, decided to put an end to his love affair with the beautiful Delahaye and entrusted her to a garage to deliver her to a breaker, at the vile price of the metal she was made of. But the garage owner was probably a romantic, a visionary or simply a pragmatic: he managed to find an amateur (unless he was himself) to save La Belle in exchange for a "pharaonic" sum... For 150 New Francs of 1966, an exceptional car does not end up being scrapped. As a reminder, the average annual salary of a worker in 1966 was around NF 10,000. Times had really changed.
From then on, the trace of the other owners is lost and it is only in 2010 that the Delahaye 801025 is acquired by its current owner. She was then in the state of a non-rolling wreck. But this time, there was no way to scrap her. She was going to be restored.... And from A to Z!
NOTE: The historical research has not made it possible to fill the gap between Mr. Leblanc and Mr. Picard ownerships. The latter's registration document mentions a previous owner in the Moselle department. The departmental archives were contacted but the answer left the owner dramatically hopeless:
"In response to your e-mail, I regret to inform you that for space saving reasons, which I deeply regret, the prefecture was authorized to destroy the old registration books aged 25 years and (or) more. We have only kept a specimen book, unfortunately not the period you are looking for."
The state in which the Delahaye 801025 was acquired left no alternative. All parts were dismantled, down to the last nut. And, starting from a bare chassis, the restoration was patiently undertaken.
Each dismantled part was then cleaned, restored, repaired or replaced in the best possible respect of the original data. Nothing was to be left to chance: the structural wood would be completely redone, the original mechanics would be refurbished and a new upholstery would be installed in the renovated cabin. All the running gear would be taken back, the rear axle would be revised, all wear parts and wiring would be replaced. This restoration, carried out in accordance with the rules of the art, would last more than two years.
Today in Concours condition, this Delahaye 135M by Henri Chapron has a high quality cream paint underlining its magnificent design. Chromes are in perfect condition, original Marshall headlights are present, in perfect condition and functional. The Chapron numbered 6579 plates are present on each side of the car. The brown mohair hood is new and its mechanism has been restored. It allows three positions: closed, semi-open (covering the rear seats) and open.
The interior has been restored to its former glory with a new brown leather upholstery covering the seats, the centre of the dashboard, the rim of the elegant three-spoke steering wheel and the passenger compartment. The interior woodwork has been redone and is in perfect condition and the beige piped carpets matching the leather are new.
The "mustardier" for controlling the Cotal electromagnetic gearbox located on the steering column allows you to engage all four gears with your fingertips without any effort, while the inverser control located on the floor allows you to select forward or reverse gear.
The original engine, a 3,557 cm³ in-line six, four-bearing crankshaft with three Solex reverse carburettors, was entrusted to a rectifier who carried out the following tasks: re-bore the six cylinders, change the six pistons to the new dimension, rectify the crankshaft, adjust the connecting rods and bearings, bore the shaft line, surface the joint plane, test the cylinder head, ring the valve seats, etc. The Cotal electromagnetic gearbox was also completely dismantled, with the electromagnets repaired and the main shaft, pump and certain gears replaced. The entire mechanical part is now in perfect condition and the car has regained the high level of performance it had when she was first released on the road.
Today, this 1948 Delahaye 135M cabriolet is in Concours condition. The original engine works perfectly and its superb Chapron coachwork will undoubtedly open up the roads to the most beautiful Rallyes and Concours d’Elégance. She is auctioned with a reserve price by its owner, a professional dealer based in Belmont de la Loire, France. Authentic lover of the French coachwork and owner of a serious collection, he will be pleased to receive you and make you discover the Delahaye "801025" himself during the duration of the auction.
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