Celebrating the Spirit of Competition

1936/48 Delahaye 135S /175S

Chassis Number : 47192             Horsepower : 150           Displacement : 6-cylinder, 3.56 L           Wheelbase : 104.5"

These Cars

Nineteen thirty-six was a turbulent time for racing in France. The Le Mans had been cancelled because of social unrest and strikes. Delahaye road cars had some success in rallies and long-distance races the year before, such as a fifth at Le Mans and a third at the Targa Abruzzo race. The management decided to emphasize sports car racing.

The new Type 135 sports car with a 3,557-cc engine was designed using some technology of the Delage Company that Delahaye just acquired. That year 14 lightened, lowered, powerful competition sports racing cars were turned out. They had triple-Solex side-draft carburetors, magneto ignition, pretty curves, and they would generate 140 horsepower at 4,200 rpm. They boasted success in smaller races, such as Algiers, where they took the first four places against strong competition and the outright win against the big guns in the 24-hour Belgian race. In the French Grand Prix one placed second to our Tank. The drivers often preferred the Cotal preselector magnetic gearbox, with four solenoids acting as clutches for the four speeds.

In subsequent years they won the Monte Carlo Rally, the Rainier Cup sports car race at Monaco, Donnington, Antwerp, and in 1938, the Le Mans 24 Hours. A Delahaye 135 even beat our Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Mille Miglia Spyder in the famous “world’s fastest road car” battle at Brooklands in 1939, though the Alfa did have a simple gear selector problem which put it hors de combat.

They are often calumniated because their overhead valve/pushrod engine with its four-bearing crankshaft. Only 150 horsepower on hand seemed somewhat anemic. What is most important, however, is the fact that these cars were reliable. They finished the races. The fussier, higher-rpm, higher-horsepower competitors often failed. This engine, often described by the British motoring press pejoratively as “industrial”, usually survived. After World War II a few of these original racers such as ours were revitalized, rebodied and continued to carry the French flag.

Our Car

This was one of the fourteen Delahaye 135S sports race cars made by the factory in 1936 and sold to various drivers. Thereafter no others were made. This car was purchased by Pierre Louis Dreyfus ( whose sobriquet was Heldé). It was built in the first quarter of 1936 and Heldé planned to race it in the 24 hours of Le Mans that year, but the race was cancelled because of social unrest. He entered it in the Grande Prix de la Automobile Club de France on June 28, 1936, as well as the Grande Prix de la Marne on July 5. The car was sold to Count Francios de Bremont. It raced at the Grande Prix de Pau, where it failed to finish and it came in sixth in the Grande Prix of Tunisia.

It was also entered at the three-hour Marseille race on June 6th of that year. In early 1938, it was sold to Madam Germaine Rouault and it was registered in Paris. Her friend, Louis Gerard, entered it in the British coronation Trophy in April and the Junior 200 mile race in May of that year. Subsequently, Gerard decided to rebody his beautiful Figoni Delage D6-70 Coupe, which came in fourth at Le Mans in 1937. The Figoni body was given to Madame Rouault who placed it on this Delahaye race car. She entered various races in 1938 and ’39, and she was first in the La Turbie hill climb portion of the 1939 Paris-Nice Rally. When she semi-retired, she sold the car to Eugene Chaboud who rebodied it after World War II and entered it in 30 races between 1945 and 1948.

Its greatest success was winning the Grand Prix of Belgium, but he had other podium finishes. In 1947, he was eighth at Monza and second at the Grande Prix Turin. In 1947, he was declared “Champion de France” as a result of his racing record with this car. In 1948, Chaboud and his friend Charles Pozzi (later to become the Ferrari importer for France), joined to form the racing team Ecurie Lutetia and they had both of their cars rebodied by Valtat on similar lines. This is the body which is currently on the car with its original paint and upholstery undisturbed. They obtained from Delahaye the loan of two type 175S engines, which is were 4.5 liter six cylinder units developing around 200 horsepower.

Chaboud had this car modified by the factory to include V12 front suspension reaction arms, cross members, and rear axle in order to handle the additional weight of the larger engine. They entered the car in Le Mans on June 25, 1949, driven by Chaboud and Pozzi, but it retired. On August 7th, at the Grande Prix of the Automobile Club of France, the car had to retire, but the sister car of Pozzi is the outright winner. Both cars were in for the 1950 Le Mans, but they did not finish. The last major race for 47192 was the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1951.

Either because of previous difficulties with the larger engine or because Delahaye wished a return of their 145 engines, the original 135S engine was installed into the chassis for the 1951 Le Mans race. This engine appears, based on external dating characteristics, to be the same race engine that was removed prior to the insertion of the 145 engine. The car was unsuccessful in that race and remained dormant for seven years until it was sold to Carlos Ankersmit in 1958. He used it very little and parked it in his garage in 1969 where, again it reposed for 20 years. The car was sold at auction on April 29, 1989.

When we acquired it in trade for a Vauxhall 30/98 and cash via Danny Margulies, it was essentially in unaltered condition in every respect. The paint was original with some touch up on the fender edges. The racing engine was intact with three sidedraft Solex carburetors and the overall external and internal appearance was exactly as seen on many contemporary photographs. Our thanks go to Andre Vancourt who is the keeper of the Delahaye archives and he is meticulously cognizant of the racing history of the great Delahayes. The extensive research he did decoded the alterations, which were made when the factory 175 engine was installed as well as the addition of components from the V12 chassis. He was helped by Pierre Abeillion with his research. .