Delahaye 235 Drophead Coupe

A brilliant French industrial engineer from Touraine, Émile Delahaye, constructed his first motor car in 1895. It was subsequently displayed at the Paris Auto Salon and while production remained quite limited, Delahaye’s automobiles soon appeared at racing venues and proved to be both reliable and remarkably competitive. However, lack of funding prevented a substantial automotive manufacturing venture, until the firm’s acquisition by Parisian businessmen in 1898.

Continually expanding, and under new ownership, Delahaye established itself as a builder of reliable and robust trucks, fine cars, industrial engines, and special service vehicles. In 1935 the company unveiled the Type 135, which was fitted with a powerful six-cylinder engine and would remain the basis of the company’s racing projects for several years to come. Victories at the prestigious Rallye Monte Carlo in 1937 and 1939 were followed by a win at the 24-hour race at Le Mans. Concurrently, Delahaye cars were earning top honors at various Concours d’Elegance with striking Art Deco coachwork from Europe’s most renowned craftsmen at Figoni et Falaschi, Chapron, Saoutchik, Franay, and Letourneur et Marchand, among others.

The Type 135 was followed by the 175 and 180 models, and finally by the Type 235, which would be the final car offered by the French firm. As had been the custom, Delahaye constructed the chassis and referred all custom bodywork to its various coachbuilders. Although the chassis was very similar to that of the 135, it was modified to accommodate the full-width body styles typical of the 1950s. A large oval grille and two-tone color schemes further defined the beautiful new Delahaye. While the prototype was designed by Philippe Charbonneaux for Motto of Turin, the final iteration of the car was designated Type 235, of which only 85 examples were ever produced.

The powerplant was likewise very similar to the 135s, although the 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine had greater compression and was fitted with three downdraft carburetors and a new camshaft. A single-carburetor model was still available. With a top speed of approximately 115 miles per hour and zero to 60 times of 11.5 seconds, the 235’s performance rivaled that of the previous 4.5-liter models, and its handling abilities and driving manners were very respectable as well. The inline six-cylinder was mated to a synchronized four-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed electro-magnetic, pre-selector Cotal gearbox, which eliminated the use of the clutch once the car was in motion.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2009 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.

152bhp, 3,557cc inline six-cylinder overhead camshaft engine with triple down draught carburetors, four-speed electro-magnetic pre-selector Cotal gearbox, independent front suspension with transverse leaf springs and control arms, and live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 216"

Source: RM Auctions

Gallery: Delahaye 235 Drophead Coupe