1949 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet Carrosserie Par AntemSOLD

Christie's Retromobile Paris Auction - February, 16 & 17th, 2007

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Estimate 160,000 - 260,000 Euros
Result (incl.) 176,250 Euros

Engine: six cylinders in line, 84 x 107mm bore and stroke, triple carburettors, 3,557cc, 115bhp; Gearbox: Cotal electro-magnetic four speed; Suspension: front, independent by transverse leaf spring, rear, semi-elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: drums all round. Left hand drive.

Model history

Among the very first constructors of motor vehicles, by the beginning of the 1920s Delahaye had developed a solid reputation for dependable and reliable machines, not least for the solid commercial vehicles that mad up a large part of their output. Their model range for 1932 was stolid and uninspiring, but the company was already developing competitive aspirations.

One story attributes these to a comment made to Technical Director Charles Weiffenbach by his friend Ettore Bugatti; in reality however the turn towards competition more probably came from the shareholders' desire to retain the honour of the name, and to make fewer cars of higher quality than the mass-production lines of Weiffenbach's preference. 1934's 18hp (Type 138) began to perform well on the circuits of Europe for both factory and private teams, even placing a credible 5th at Le Mans, and it was into this new momentum that the 135 was released.

First shown at the 1935 Salon d'Auto, it was effectively a highly-modified 18hp with a lower chassis, flatter springs, oil cooler, and a lower centre of gravity evidenced most obviously with the lower radiator grill. Three models were offered: Sport, Coupe des Alpes, and Competition. After two years, and with the Competition models regularly running alongside Talbot-Lagos and Bugattis, it was decided to endow the rest of the range with that 3,557cc engine in various states of tune. Thus, at the 1937 Salon d'Auto, the models had changed to be the 148, the 135M (Modifié), with the options of either one or three carburettors giving 95hp or 115hp, and the MS (Modifié Spéciale) with 135hp. A Le Mans victory was finally theirs in 1938, and 1939 began well for the firm before their attentions were forced back towards trucks and other vehicles at the bequest of the army. The cars continued to run, however, their sturdy engines proving to be among the few that could stomach the poor fuels available during the conflict.

Once the war had finally drawn to a close, Delahaye turned straight back to its range as it had existed in 1939, the only difference being a longer and narrower grill. Although retrospective, the coachbuilders' styles at least carried the grace of the pre-war years, and none more so than the elegant lines of Jean Antem's designs. Recognised as among the great French coachbuilders of the pre- and post-war era, Levallois-based Antem specialised in low, flowing lines adorned with highly-inclined windscreens and sleek, beetle-like tails. Today Antem's work is not forgotten, but it is rare to find. An article that appeared in La Vie d'Auto in January 1979 cited just four 135 cabriolets known at the time.

Specific history of this car

The example offered here is the desirable 135M equipped with 3 carburettors. It was discovered in a state of sad neglect by the previous owner, who embarked upon a painstaking restoration that appears (judging by the bills that accompany the car) to have been started in the summer of 1985, and not finished until around 1992. It included the replacement of all the rotten parts of the frame as well as such items as the front wings and bonnet, which were either beyond repair or missing. The engine was completely overhauled, and the interior upholstery and hood replaced. The work is catalogued in a large selection of photographs chronicling various stages.

The Carte Grise notes that, having been first registered to Mr. Garcia in 1988, the car was re-registered to him in September 1993. It is highly likely that these two dates signify the points at which the car could theoretically be called a car (1988, after considerable work had been finished), and the point at which it could be considered finished. It then passed to the vendor in 1997, being re-registered by him in March of that year.

Although the restoration took place some time ago, this elegant car has enjoyed very careful ownership since. It has been used and enjoyed. Regular contenders at Concours d'Elégance, these Antem cars are rare and sought-after, and this well-restored and well-maintained example could be nothing other than a fine addition to any garage.

Reference Number 6922

as of 2/1/2007

Car 1949 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet Carrosserie Par Antem
VIN 800980 
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