1936 Delahaye Type 135 Special SOLD

RM Vintage Motorcars in Arizona - Biltmore Resort & Spa, Friday January 19, 2007

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ESTIMATE: $1,200,000 - $1,400,000

$1,320,000 Sold

The ex-Ecurie Bleue 160hp, 3,557cc. six-cylinder engine, four-speed Cotal pre-selector transmission, independent front suspension with transverse leaf springs, live axle rear suspension with leaf springs, four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 106" (2,700mm)

Delahaye ’ s history began well before the dawn of the automobile with the establishment of M. Brethon ’ s machine shop in Tours in 1845. In the 1880s or 90s, Emile Delahaye acquired Brethon ’ s operation and began experimenting with gasoline engines. He built his first automobile in 1895 and in 1896 he drove one of his automobiles to sixth place in the Paris-Marseilles-Paris race.

In 1898, Delahaye took in two partners, Leon Desmarais and Georges Morane, and moved to a factory in Paris. To organize and manage the new operation they hired Charles Weiffenbach. “ Monsieur Charles ” would remain at the helm of Delahaye through two World Wars and the next fifty-five years, guiding Delahaye after Emile Delahaye sold his interest in 1901.

The post-World War I recession hit Delahaye hard, exacerbated by a glut of war surplus US trucks which decimated Delahaye ’ s truck market. It survived, aided by a marriage of convenience with Chenard et Walcker and F.A.R. Tractor, but as the Depression took hold a few years later a change in its business plan was needed. Monsieur Charles – some say at the urging of Ettore Bugatti – initiated a drastic change in Delahaye ’ s product strategy to create a performance image.

The vehicle for Delahaye ’ s new direction was the Superluxe and its sports sibling, the Delahaye Type 135. Designed by Jean François under the direction of Delahaye ’ s technical director, Amédée Varlet, the Superluxe and Type 135 engine, a long stroke, pushrod-operated overhead valve, four main bearing, crossflow head inline six, would become one of the most versatile, long-lived engine designs in history.

The sporting history of Delahaye in the thirties is inextricably linked with Laury and Lucy O ’ Reilly Schell. Lucy was the only child of an Irishman who ’ d made millions in America. She met Laury Schell in France and the two of them cut a swath through both French society and the racing community. Their team, Ecurie Bleue, eventually became the proxy for the Delahaye factory. Their son, Harry Schell, became a noted grand prix driver after the war. It was Ecurie Bleue and its driver, René Dreyfus, who won the famous “ Million Franc Prize ” for Delahaye in 1937.

The Schells ’ Ecurie Bleue was one of the first to compete with Delahaye ’ s new engine, which was installed in a Type 134 for the 1934 Dieppe Rally. At the same time, Delahaye engineer Jean François was hard at work on a new chassis, the Type 135, to complement the more powerful engine. The chassis was a particularly advanced assembly for its time, with boxed rectangular rails, a central crossmember weldment and a welded-in floor that contributed additional stiffness and rigidity. The front suspension was independent, using its transverse leaf spring as the lower control arm.

Introduced at the 1935 Paris Salon, Delahaye offered both single and triple downdraft carburetor induction systems in addition to two engine sizes, 3,227cc (18 CV) and 3,557cc (20 CV), giving buyers the choice of 95hp, 120hp and two 110hp configurations.

The competition prospects for the Type 135 were embodied in a fifth model: the short wheelbase, 3,557cc, triple carburetor, 160 horsepower Delahaye Type 135 Special. More than just highly tuned, the Type 135 Special featured additional engine block cooling passages, a lighter and better balanced crankshaft capable of higher rpm, an 8.4:1 compression ratio cylinder head, modified valve gear and a high lift cam. It breathed through three horizontal Solex carburetors and had six exhaust ports with individual exhaust head pipes.

All the Type 135 Specials were bodied with similar lightweight two-seat coachwork with removable teardrop fenders, making them acceptable in both sports car and grand prix competition. Aggressively functional, gracefully styled and effectively aerodynamic, their rugged naturally aspirated engines and dual purpose functionality made the Delahaye Type 135 Special the ideal race car for the 1936 French racing season.

The Automobile Club de France had proposed a series of French races for “ sport-competition ” cars, designed to avoid the dominance of German and Italian marques in grands prix. Included in the ACF ’ s schedule in addition to the 24 Hours of Le Mans was the French Grand Prix: the proudest laurel any French auto manufacturer could win.

Delahaye created its own two-car team for the 1936 season with drivers Albert Divo and Albert Perrot. Two of the sixteen Type 135 Specials built were retained for the factory team, 47188 and the car which RM Auctions is proud to offer at Vintage Motor Cars in Arizona this year, chassis 47189.

The French Grand Prix was held at Montlhèry outside Paris on June 28 over a distance of 1000 kilometers. The Delahaye Type 135 Specials threw a scare into Bugatti, finishing second through fifth behind Wimille and Sommer in a envelope bodied Bugatti Type 57G. Albert Perrot, with co-driver Dhome, finished fifth just behind Laury Schell and René Carrière. Schell had finished second in the Three Hours of Marseilles held a month before on the Miramas circuit in a sweep of the top six positions by Delahaye Type 135 Specials. Two weeks after the French GP, Schell and Carrière finished third overall at the 24 Hours of Spa. Delahaye ’ s hopes of adding the victory wreath from the Le Mans 24 Hours to the company ’ s history unfortunately was frustrated by 1936 ’ s social and labor unrest in France which forced cancellation of the endurance classic.

At the conclusion of the 1936 season, Delahaye disbanded its factory team and sold this Type 135 Special to the Schell ’ s Ecurie Bleue where it joined two other Type 135 Specials, chassis numbers 46835 and 47193. This car was modified for 1937 regulations with the addition of doors and campaigned by Laury Schell. He recorded a number of excellent results driving Type 135 Specials including third in the Mille Miglia with Carrière, third in the Tunis GP and fifth in the GP de la Marne with Rene Dreyfus. Lucy O ’ Reilly Schell and a co-driver captured third overall in the demanding Monte Carlo Rally in one of the Ecurie Bleue Type 135 Specials. Drivers such as Carrière, Rene Le Bègue and Dreyfus who regularly drove for Ecurie Bleue also scored well in the 1937 season in Type 135 Specials.

While it is believed that Dreyfus regularly raced chassis 47193, no satisfactory records or other evidence have been uncovered to identify race appearances specifically for Type 135 Special chassis 47189 other than the fifth place at the GP de la Marne.

The Schells and Ecurie Bleue moved from Paris to Monaco at the end of 1937. Ecurie Bleue had acquired two new Delahaye Type 145 V12s which became the team ’ s primary cars for the 1938 season. One of the Type 135 Specials was entrusted to Jean Trevoux and co-driver Matra for the September 11, 1938 12 Hours of Paris at Montlhèry, either 47189 or 47193, the third Type 135 Special having been sold by then.

The team started the 1939 season racing the Delahaye Type 145s but during the year acquired a pair of Maserati 8CTFs which Lucy O ’ Reilly Schell took to Indianapolis in 1940. Tragedy struck the Schell family at the end of the 1939 season when a road accident took Laury Schell ’ s life and seriously injured his wife Lucy.

After the war, the Ecurie Bleue Delahaye Type 135 Special was raced in September 1945 in one of the first postwar events, the Coupe des Prisonniers race in the Bois de Boulogne by Roger Wormser. Later, it was exported to Argentina through Harry Schell ’ s friend Georges Gath where it was owned and raced by a number of owners including Ernesto Dillon, Rene Emilio Soulas, Miguel Schreler, Roberto Calise, Nicolas Dellpaine and Eduardo Salzman before ending up with “ Panchi ” Lezica, an amateur boxer of note.

It continued to be raced until 1966 when it was acquired by Rudolfo Iriate in condition charitably described as “ well-used ” with a Chevrolet engine and FIAT gearbox. Iriate recalled later, however, “ the original motor nevertheless remained with the car. I immediately started a complete restoration…. To do this I collected all the Delahaye pieces I could find…. I even got my hands on three motors … and managed to rebuild the original using pieces from all four engines at my disposal. ” The body was rebuilt by Gallicio using the original coachwork as the templates. When completed, Iriate raced the ex-Ecurie Bleue Delahaye regularly into the 1980 ’ s. In the late 80s he sold it to Peter Agg in England who, in 1993, sold it to Hugh Taylor. Later owners were Anthony Bamford, then Nicolas Springer in Germany. It was restored by Lukas Huni in the mid-Nineties to its present excellent condition.

The history of the Delahaye Type 135 was featured in Automobile Quarterly (volume 39, number 2, July 1999) and this car was singled out for the “ Coda ” spotlight as a “ True Bleue Delahaye. ” It is believed twelve of the sixteen original Delahaye Type 135 Specials survive – ample evidence that enthusiasts recognized even in the darkest days of World War II that these were exceptional automobiles of the highest quality and rare distinction.

Two Delahaye Type 135 Specials finished second and third in the 1937 Le Mans 24 Hours (Paul/Mongin in second and Dreyfus/Stoffel in an Ecurie Bleue car in third). Laury Schell and René Carrière were the first non-classified car, covering 2,604 km (more than the 12th placed Simca) but not running at the finish.

Delahaye Type 135 Specials
finished first, second and fourth at Le Mans in 1938.

They were sixth, eighth and eleventh in 1939 (the 8th place finisher no less a personage than Rob Walker whose exploits with his Type 135 Special could fill a book of its own.)

In the first postwar Le Mans in 1949, famed as Ferrari ’ s first Le Mans victory driven by Luigi Chinetti, a fleet of Delahaye Type 135 Specials lurked behind him, eventually finishing fifth, ninth and tenth.

Although a World War had intervened, in 1949 the Delahaye Type 135 Special was still competitive at the pinnacle of international competition. The most important and best performing of all of them were the two factory cars of the 1936 season and the cars of Laury and Lucy O ’ Reilly Schell ’ s Ecurie Bleue which mounted a challenge to the Silver Arrows of Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union and the Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeos of Enzo Ferrari.

Built from its inception as a dual purpose grand prix and sports car, Delahaye Type 135 Special 47189 is adaptable to, and acceptable in, all the most important and enjoyable events and tours. The Type 135 Special
and perhaps this very car – has scored points in grands prix, sports car and endurance events driven by legends in racing history. It is beautifully and carefully prepared and presented.

The Delahaye Type 135 Special chassis number 47189 is without parallel among its contemporaries -– both Delahaye ’ s 1936 factory team car and one of the standard-bearers for Laury and Lucy O ’ Reilly Schell ’ s Ecurie Bleue.

Reference Number 5845

as of 1/10/2007

Car 1936 Delahaye Type 135 Special
VIN 47189 
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