Once a Coupé, Always a Classic
Renowned Parisian designer and coachbuilder Giuseppe Figoni, who formed a partnership with Italian businessman Ovidio Falaschi in 1935, was known as the “father” of the teardrop styling; his mastery evident in the sweeping, streamlined and voluptuous aesthetic of this fantastic and historic 1936 Delahaye. The third of only six Competition Court Type 135s bodied as a coupé by Figoni et Falaschi in 1936, this rare Delahaye—chassis number 46837, body number 572—was built for the racing track but was later, in 1948, modified into a cabriolet.
In the late 1980s—while disassembled—this Delahaye was discovered and purchased by French Delahaye aficionado Roger Tainguy. Tainguy sent the car to Jean-Luc Bonnefoy, a then up-and-coming restorer who is thought to have fabricated a section previously missing from the rear of the vehicle. Not only is this 1936 Delahaye 135M Competition Court Cabriolet an extremely rare vehicle, and rare in form, but it is also rare in that its ownership and history can be traced back to its inception.
Type 135 to the Rescue
Delahaye started producing automobiles in France as early as 1895 and gained a reputation for making fine-quality cars with quiet, reliable engines. With few exceptions, they appealed to an unassuming middle-class clientele, but—unlike Bugatti and Alfa Romeo—they offered no sporting variants. By the early 1930s, Delahaye could not compete with the likes of Renault and Citroën—let alone marques such as Hispano-Suiza and Delage—and the company needed something special to reignite its brand. Enter the Type 135, introduced in 1935.
A World War II Survivor
Dr. Jean-Marie Lefevre, a country doctor in the Vrigne aux Bois region, purchased the car from well-known racer Jean Trémoulet in 1938. Dr. Lefevre was known to take the Delahaye on his rounds at a high rate of speed, and—as the good doctor was also a seasoned, veteran racer—he also enjoyed this Delahaye on the circuit at Monza after taking part in a stage at Danielo in Venice.
In 1940—with the war encroaching, and considering the likelihood that the Nazi regime would confiscate the Delahaye—the decision was made to have the vehicle hidden by a farmer under bales of hay in the center of France. Dr. Lefevre and his son would return in 1945 to awaken this sleeping beauty. To their surprise, despite being buried under hay bales for five years, the Delahaye fired right up and was driven home.
1936 Delahaye 135M Competition Court Cabriolet Specs:
- Inline-6, 3.5 litre Compétition engine, upgraded to 3.8 litre in 1948
- 2.7m wheelbase
- Modified to a Cabriolet in 1948
- Coachwork by the renowned Parisian coachbuilder Figoni et Falaschi
- The 3rd of just six Competition Court Type 135 coupés bodied in 1936
- Recipient of a high-quality Jean-Luc Bonnefoy restoration in the late 1980s
- One of the most illustrious French marques in automotive history