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135MS Coach by Chapron
A larger-displacement (3,557 cc) 135M was introduced in 1936. Largely the same as the regular 135, the new engine offered 90, 105, or 115hp with either one, two, or three carburetors. As with the 135/138, a less sporty, longer wheelbase version was also built, called the 148. The 148 had a 3,150 mm wheelbase, or 3,350 mm in a seven-seater version. On the two shorter wheelbases, a 134N was also available, with a 2,150 cc four-cylinder version of the 3.2-litre six from the 135. Along with a brief return of the 134, production of 148, 135M, and 135MS models was resumed after the end of the war. The 135 and 148 were then joined by the larger engined 175, 178, and 180 derivatives. The 135M continued to be available alongside the newer 235 until the demise of Delahaye in 1954.
In 1938, a new, top-of-the-line model of the Type 135 was introduced at the 1938 Paris Salon, the MS (Modifiee Speciale). Its power plant was a thoroughly updated version of the existing 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine. A larger cylinder head and bigger valves improved breathing, and horsepower was increased to 130 hp. With proper gearing and slippery coachwork, it could reach an incredible top speed of 110 mph. Fitted with triple carburetion, output rose again to an astonishing 160hp.
Competent as the 135 may be, it is the coachwork that defines a Delahaye. The greatest artists of the time created some of their best work on Delahaye chassis; Figoni et Falaschi, Henri Chapron, Letourner et Marchand, Saoutchik, Guillore, Franay, and Graber were just a few whose art graced Delahayes. However, if one coachbuilding firm deserved special distinction, it would have to be deVillars – not by volume but rather by beauty.
A particular highlight of the mid-1930s, and arguably the height of the French coach built era, was Figoni et Falaschi’s introduction of the Goutte d’Eau, or teardrop streamliners, which were built as coupes and cabriolets on both Delahaye and Talbot-Lago chassis.
Both pre- and post-war, Figoni et Falaschi’s stand at the Paris Salon was a “must-see” attraction. Although teardrop cars were made in relatively small numbers, they were so immediately eye-catching that they became instant icons, and they remain so today.
|In 1935, several events would take place that would prove pivotal both for Figoni and for French design. In May of 1935 Joseph Figoni took in a partner. Ovidio Falaschi, a successful Italian businessman, was to provide working capital and business expertise. By all accounts, the partnership was a success, with both men making substantial contributions.
The second seminal event was that Figoni was introduced to the work of the famed French artist Geo Ham. Accounts vary as to the extent of the role that Ham played in the creation of the new design ethos, but earlier work by Ham makes it clear that his design ideas were at least a source of inspiration for Figoni.
The third event was the development of the Delahaye 135 in 1935/6. The 135 introduced a new lower radiator and independent suspension, which not only improved the car’s handling dramatically, but also lowered the chassis. It was these innovations that created the canvas on which Figoni would design Delahaye’s 1936 Paris show car.
While Ham may have influenced the design of that first Delahaye 135, most historians believe that the remarkable series of designs that would follow were the work of Joseph Figoni. Regardless, Figoni et Falaschi would over the years cloth some of the finest Delahaye 135s, including the striking 1939 Delahaye 135MS Grand Sport Roadster.
.While not widely remembered today, in its time, Swiss coachbuilder Langenthal was well-known for the high quality and beautiful design of its work, which on this car includes sweeping “teardrop” fenders and two-tone paintwork set off by audacious curves. The interior is a classic French Grand Touring of the 1940s, showing the inspiration of other French coachbuilders, with wide dashboard gauges, beautiful leather upholstery, and, naturally, a glass ashtray. All of that, and a large trunk, was everything one required to cross the Alps in high style in 1947. The radiator mascot, a frog poised to leap, adds a pleasant whimsical touch, and it suggests the pent-up power lurking beneath the hood.
Established in 1898, Carrosserieefabriek P.J. Pennock & Zonen became one of the largest coachbuilders in the Netherlands. The firm built both bespoke bodies for individual clients and series-built styles like convertibles, often on higher-priced chassis from the USA. After World War II, the Dutch government encouraged coachbuilding for export, and a number of prestige chassis, especially Delahayes, were imported for that purpose
Marcel Pourtout, one of France’s best-known automotive ateliers, based his cabriolet “Malmaison” on pre-war lines, namely in the high and long dramatic sweep of its front fenders. That the fenders were now integrated into the bodywork was not immediately evident, with deep channels along their crowns emphasizing the long sweep that descended into the doors, only to arch up again to form the rear fender. The influence of Figoni et Falaschi’s work on Delahaye chassis can be seen in the shapes of the fenders and the hoodline, which recall Figoni’s cabriolets on Talbot-Lago T-150 C SS chassis in the late 1930s. Yet the design is fully and purely Pourtout, with the exception only of the tall, vertical radiator, contributed by Philippe Charbonneaux of Delahaye. Typical of the coachbuilder, the interior was well-appointed but not overdone, with swaging of contrasting color on the inner door panels and a leather-covered dashboard carrying Delahaye’s usual attractive Art Deco instrumentation.
According to Pourtout historian Bruno Martin, the “Malmaison” was “the first example of the transitional postwar ‘pontoon’ style.” While it may simply be a coincidence, the design clearly forecasts trends not only in French automobile designs to come but also in other European countries—most prominently the Bentley R-Type Continental, which was designed after this car.
According to the Pourtout archives, only four to six examples of the cabriolet “Malmaison” were made, of which three known examples remain today. All were installed on the 135 M chassis with its optional 6 103S engine, a design equipped with three Solex carburetors for an output of 115 horsepower.
Antem, was one of the larger concerns, that began bodying Delahayes during the 1930s. Following the Second World War, they turned their attention to the 135, and displayed a 135 M cabriolet on their stand at the Paris Motor Show in 1946. Certain characteristics of the styling would be used again on other creations, such as the delicate fin traced down the length of the boot. At the 1948 Motor Show, Antem presented a more finished version, which corresponds to the car on offer. The coachbuilder skillfully avoided the trap of heavy "ponton" styling by elegantly keeping separate wings while incorporating the headlights to give the car a more modern feel. The rear wheels were hidden behind a fairing, in a nod to the trend for aerodynamic styling.
An even sportier version, the 135MS, soon followed. 120-145 hp were available, with competition versions offering over 160 hp. The 135MS was the version most commonly seen in competition, and continued to be available until 1954, when new owners Hotchkiss finally called a halt. The MS had the 2.95 m wheelbase, but competition models sat on a shortened 2.70 m chassis.
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