6 September 2017

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Lot 151

1938 Delahaye 135 MS Cabriolet Conversion

  • Chassis no. 60221
  • Engine no. 60221

Sold for £207,000

Documents: UK V5

  • Original Coach Mouette by Henri Chapron
  • Beautiful lines typical of this great coachbuilder
  • Cabriolet conversion performed by Bill Hinds
  • Extensively restored in the early 1990s
  • Equipped with its original matching-numbers engine

In 1935, Delahaye launched its groundbreaking 3.5-litre 135 model. The initial design was a smart two-door style called the Coupe des Alpes. Although the car was marketed as having a Delahaye factory body, it was in reality designed and built by the famous coachbuilder Henri Chapron, with whom Delahaye had struck a deal to provide a number of styles aimed at a sporting clientele. The 135 met with instant success and transformed the somewhat dusty image of the marque into something chic and ritzy that appealed to the concours set. In 1936, the engine was bored up to 3.6 litres to become the 135 M, and in the 135 MS set-up with three carburettors, no less than 135 bhp were on tap.

Delahaye had given the contract to build the ‘factory’ 135 bodies to Chapron, because the company did not have an in-house coachbuilding facility, and for the same reason, the 135 chassis was immediately made available to the trade. What followed until the breakout of the Second World War was a virtually endless parade of the most beautiful bodies ever made by the cream of French coachbuilding. For years, the 135, 135 M and 135 MS reigned supreme at the concours d’elegance in Paris, Biarritz and Monaco with luxurious, racy and stunning coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi, Saoutchik, Labourdette and of course, Chapron, who also made extravagant one-offs alongside the models made in small series.

The Chapron-design mounted on chassis number 60221 was called the Coach Mouette, a pillarless two-door, four-passenger closed car. Little is known about the early history. In 1980, the car was purchased by Ken Johnson, a collector in Malibu, California, who brought it to Bill Hinds’ restoration shop in Carmel, California. Mr Johnson desired a convertible and directed Bill Hinds to remove the fixed top and modify the body to accept a new convertible configuration, which the current owner considers far more attractive and desirable than the original design. The special Dragonfly hood ornament was an artistic creation designed and built by Hinds at that time. During its restoration, 60221 was upgraded mechanically to the desirable MS configuration, and the car was subsequently displayed by Ken Johnson at Pebble Beach in 1983. In 1991, it was sold to the present owner who carried out an extensive mechanical rebuild of the engine, which included attention to the cylinder head and crankshaft. In 2007, the Cotal electric gearbox was rebuilt.

Coming out of long-term ownership, chassis 60221 still presents beautifully. The gracefully flowing lines of master coachbuilder Henri Chapron and the understated grey-maroon colour combination unite to create a quintessential statement of le bon goût français, French good taste, that will be welcomed at concours and motoring events alike. Delahaye 60221 will be a prominent addition to any collection of pre-war cars, and especially French cars.

Alexander Weaver

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

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Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

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Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more