Delahaye 135MS Figoni & Falaschi Narval

The former French luxury car brand Delahaye is more or less unknown today. After a brilliant period before World War 2, attempts were made to continue the success in the field of luxury vehicles after the war for a few years. Ultimately the company missed opportunities to modernize their models and had to sell the business to competitor Hotchkiss in 1954, which shut down the production immediately. Until the end they offered in parallel the newly developed model 235 and the pre-war vehicle 135 in the versions 135M and 135MS. The latter got its S from the sporty chassis and the highest available performance levels of the 3.6-liter inline six-cylinder engine. It was offered with either 125 and 145 hp, depending on customer requests, but also a 160-hp version was built for competition cars. In addition to factory-bodied cars, Delahaye also offered rolling chassis, which could be delivered by the customers to the coachbuilder of choice, to get the bodywork they liked.

Such a vehicle is chassis number 800495. It arrived the coachbuilder Figoni & Falaschi in Paris as a naked chassis. Figoni & Falaschi is well-known for exceptional body shapes on various European chassis. Many ideas were realised based on Delahayes. In 1946, for example, they presented a 135M at the Paris Motor Show with the so-called Narval body. This name derived from the narwhal or beluga whale, which both have a particularly distinctive forehead. A similar design can be found at the front of the car above the radiator grille, while the rest of the bodywork reproduces the shapes of the whale according to Figoni. A total of seven Narval bodies were created on Delahaye chassis, one of them for chassis number 800945, presented at the 1947 Paris Motor Show.

Back then, the vehicle was painted in black and after the motor show was handed over to its first owner, the famous French singer and songwriter Charles Trenet. It is powered by the 125 hp engine variant with three Solex downdraft carburetors. A four-speed preselector Cotal gearbox transmits the power to the rear wheels. Identical transmissions were used in the 810 and 812 models of Cord from the US at the time. Since the late 1960s, this Delahaye 135MS is in the same ownership. During this period, it received a comprehensive restoration to Concours standard. In the course of this, the exterior of the car was painted light blue, while the interior was upholstered in blue leather and a blue fabric hood was mounted.

Some particularly noteworthy details designed by Figoni are the steering wheel made of transparent plastic, the three chrome stripes on each side of the bonnet and the vertical fin at the rear. On the passenger side sits a polished metal badge on the dashboard, showing the inscription ‘Charles Trenet – La Carriere – Antibes’. As part of their event during Monterey Car Week in August, the American auction house Mecum offers this special Delahaye. So far there is no information about the amount of the expected estimates. In the same auction, Mecum offers also another Delahaye 135MS.

Images: Mecum Auctions