Delahaye 'Whatthehaye' Street Rod
The words “hot rod” and “American” go hand in hand. Europe’s storied automotive tradition has always seemed to exist in a dimension other than the hot rod and-custom world is a faraway land of pre war exotics, of the Grand Prix de Monte Carlo and the Mille Miglia. But with this takeoff on a now-vanished French marque called the Delahaye. Boyd Coddington has blended the old European style with California bodywork and Detroit muscle. Delahaye is one of the oldest names in auto making. Emile Delahaye, whose first cars were belt-driven single and two-cylinder models, founded the French company in 1894. By the late 1930s, the firm was building sleek six-cylinder machines with custom coachwork, and had entered the Grand Prix racing scene. In 1938, France scored a symbolic victory against Nazi Germany when a Delahaye defeated Mercedes-Benz competitors in the famed ‘million franc” race, named for its sizable purse. After the war, Delahaye continued building models powered by large six-cylinder engines, but declining sales led to the company’s demise in the early 1950s. Today, a prewar Delahaye is a collector’s prize.
Boyd didn’t have to sacrifice any of those rare old beauties to come up with his take on the classic. Instead, he collaborated with Marcel DeLay and his sons Marc to create a car inspired by the Delahaye of the late ’30s, without precisely replicating any one model. The split windshield, big pontoon fenders, and rakish oval grille are all WHATTHEHATE-LOGO-round-cappart of Boyd’s homage to the famous marque, as is the silver-and-black paint job and black leather interior by Gabe Lopez, but the low roof profile, suggestive of a chopped American coupe of the era, is pure hot rod. When it came to choosing a power plant, it was time to really depart from European tradition. Six cylinders may have been more than enough to shut down the competition from across the Rhine and take home a million francs in 1938, but Boyd Coddington Whatthehaye nearly doubles the ante with its Dodge Viper V-10. Interestingly, the big Dodge mill is a refinement of an engine the former Chrysler Corporation developed for its heftier pickup trucks, while the Delahaye of the late ’30s had originally been built for the French firm’s successful truck line. And if we really want to come full circle with coincidences and complications, Chrysler is now part of the same German outfit that was humiliated by Delahaye back in ’38. But that’s all ancient history. Oh well…. Whatthehaye?
BODY: Custom; based on a 1930s
Delahaye. Built by Marcel and Marc Delay/Boyd Coddington
CHASSIS: Custom; Art Morrison/Boyd Coddington
ENGINE: Dodge Viper V-10
TRANSMISSION, CLUTCH, AND DRIVESHAFT: Dodge Viper 6-speed
WHEELS: Boyd Coddington
TIRES: Goodyear tires
REAR END: Boyd Coddington rear suspension using Corvette center section/coil over shocks
FRONT SUSPENSION: Boyd Coddington independent/coilovers
BRAKES: Boyd Coddington/Wilwood 4-wheel disc
Source: Boyd Coddington Press and Barrett-Jackson Auctions