Two Delahayes with Swiss Graber coachwork coming to the market at the same time is a most unusual coincidence - RM Sotheby’s sold theirs for £235,500 in St Moritz and just nine days previously H&H Classics sold theirs in Duxford for a not dissimilar price.
Damian Jones Head of Sales for H&H says: “The buyer of ‘our’ car wishes the price paid to remain confidential but I can say that it was very close to what RM achieved.”
Although this stunning car didn’t find a home on the day of the auction H &H has again shown how they never stop working for their clients to achieve a successful sale.
A true Grande Routiere that would grace any collection this exquisite Delahaye is believed to be one of just two such examples made (and sister to the RM Sotheby’s car - chassis 800320 - which has been pictured in various marque histories).
This lovely machine was offered for sale by H&H Classics at the Imperial War Museum Duxford on September 8th with an estimate of £250,000 to £300,000. In the event it changed hands after the auction for a figure within range of the lower estimate.
Exhibited at the world famous Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 2017, the four-seater was supplied new to Switzerland and resident there until the late 1990s after which it underwent an extensive restoration.
Uprated with a more powerful Type 135 MS engine at some stage (rumoured to have been installed by the factory) that sports three inlet and six exhaust ports plus triple Solex carburettors, the four-seater is said to be ‘more than capable of keeping up with modern traffic’. Equipped with Cotal’s ingenious electromagnetic four-speed gearbox, it offers a rewarding and engaging driving experience. Part of a significant private collection in recent years, this magnificent Graber-bodied Delahaye is seemingly reading for further concours duties or touring. They say that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, well to our eyes at least ‘VXS 968’ is one hell of a looker!
RM Sotheby's sister Delahaye was first owned by a Swiss banker appropriately enough. After his death, the car remained in storage with the family until 1995. At the end of the 1990s, the Delahaye was fully restored in Miami. In 2017, RM Sotheby's offered the car at the Monterey auction during the same Pebble Beach event that the other Graber participated in, the one just sold by H&H. The estimate was $450-650,000 at the time and the car remained unsold. Nevertheless, it is striking that both Graber cars were in such close proximity at the same time.
Delahaye’s most famous model – the Type 135 – was introduced at the October 1935 Paris Salon. Notably stiffer and lower slung than those of its predecessors, the newcomer’s chassis featured box-section side rails, two substantial cross members, welded-in floor panels and a steel transmission tunnel. The independent front suspension comprised a lower transverse leaf spring and upper wishbones allied to longitudinal torque arms, while the live rear axle was supported by semi-elliptic leaf springs mounted outside the main chassis rails. Large cable-operated drum brakes (housing Bendix self-wrapping shoes) were complemented by high geared worm and nut steering. Initially powered by a 3.2 litre OHV straight-six engine, the Type 135’s obvious competition potential was amply demonstrated by Lucy Schell’s Works-supported Ecurie Bleue machines. Outright wins at the Coupe d’Automne, Mont Ventoux hillclimb (1936), Donington 12-hours (1937) and Le Mans 24-hours (1938) not to mention near misses on the Mille Miglia, RAC Tourist Trophy and Spa 24-hours all cemented Delahaye’s position among France’s premier marques.
Indeed, Rob Walker’s Type 135 Speciale outlasted and outran Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 and Talbot T150SS opposition at the 1939 Whit Monday Brooklands meeting to claim the title of ‘Britain’s Fastest Road Car’. Available from 1936 until the company’s closure eighteen years later, the Type 135M boasted a 3.6 litre engine and could be optioned with triple carburettors and a Cotal electromagnetic four-speed gearbox. Lacking its own coachbuilding facilities, Delahaye entrusted Type 135 chassis to the cream of France’s ateliers including: Figoni & Falaschi; Letourneur et Marchand; Alphonse Guilloré; Marcel Pourtout; Frères Dubois; Jacque Saoutchik; Marius Franay; Henri Chapron; Faget-Varnay and Antem; the result being some of the most flamboyant bodywork ever seen.
Delahaye put the Type 135M back into production after World War Two but found that the market for ‘Grande Routiere’ cars had all but collapsed. Thought to be one of just two examples to wear this particular style of Cabriolet coachwork by Graber of Switzerland, chassis 800269 was supplied new to Lucerne. Conscious of the masterpieces that their French rivals had created on the same chassis, Graber came up with a particularly elegant and confident design which lets its complex panel curvature ‘do the talking’ rather than relying on flashy chrome accents.
Migrating to Bern in 1956, chassis 800269 moved to Thun two years later where it would remain in single ownership until 1998. The subject of a high quality, detailed restoration thereafter which saw it mechanically gone through, the Delahaye was also treated to a sympathetic bodywork refurbishment, interior re-trim and fitted with a new hood. Many of the original fittings such as the Cream steering wheel and O.S. instruments were carefully renovated. Utilised by its previous keeper for a number of rallies, the four-seater has been cosmetically enhanced since entering the current ownership such that it was invited to attend the world-famous Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2017.
We're back at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford for our next auction of classic and collector cars on Wednesday 17th November. Click here to consign your classic car with us.