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Delahaye 135 MS Cabriolet by Henri Chapron, 1947

  • For the 1948 Paris Auto Salon, Henri Chapron debuted a handsome Delahaye cabriolet titled "La Vedette," which roughly translates to 'starlette' in the sense of a darling celebrity. A small number of Delahaye cars bore coachwork in this same Vedette style—perhaps four or five—of which this sapphire example is one. Minor differences can be found between each of these Vedette-inspired cabriolets, but all are lavishly ornamented, and many share the remarkable lucite steering wheel shown on this car.
  • The Delahaye 135 was born in 1935, the product of engineer Jean François. Emblematic of the marque, the 135 in competition trim won the Monte Carlo rally in 1937, and also the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1938, while in high society the chassis wore some of the most flamboyant, avante garde fashion known to the modernist imagination.
  • While the model enjoyed its greatest success before the War, the 135 would be Delahaye's mainstay until 1954, the veritable end of the marque's automobile production. In this time the 135 played out a swansong of motoring elegance, culminating 14 years of production on both sides of a jilting global conflict, though without much relevance to postmodern man in its final years. Though perhaps difficult to believe, this is the type of car that Ferrari and Jaguar will replace by the end of the decade. And with that, the flamboyance will be mostly forgotten... at least until present day when we will have revived our interest in artistry for its own sake.
  • Today the Delahaye 135 is revered for its great breadth of custom coachwork; it is the most plentiful of the classic French sports cars and was bodied collectively by most of the great carrosseries, save for the few stripped-down racing cars prepared by the factory. Delahaye's devotion to the 135 gave its fold variation that today seems endless compared with its contemporaries. For context, the number of Delahaye 135 cars produced is roughly three times the number of Bugatti Type 57 cars. Perhaps it is not the thoroughbred that is a period Bugatti, Alfa Romeo, or Talbot-Lago, but the Delahaye is pure grand touring charm in the classic French style—too much chrome, color too bright, and charisma dripping down the skirts.

 

Last Updated: Oct 4, 2017