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Lot 624
1950 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet by Barou

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Selling on Saturday Evening

CHASSIS NO: 805006

• A rare coachbuilt model attributed to Jean Barou
• The final restoration of celebrated French marque specialist Jean-Paul Tisserand
• Featured in a short French documentary
• Stunning Cabriolet that is ready for exhibition and enjoyment


3,557 cc OHV inline six-cylinder engine, triple Solex carburetors, Cotal four-speed gearbox, independent front suspension and transverse leaf spring, live rear axle and quarter-elliptic springs, four-wheel mechanical drum brakes; wheelbase: 114”


Few marques carry the mystique and allure of Delahaye. Beloved for their voluptuous, art deco, coach-built bodies and touted for its racing heritage, Delahaye is often considered the ultimate French marque. Today, these cars grace the greens of the world’s greatest concours and are crown jewels in world-class collections because they are not merely classic automobiles, they are the great art of the twentieth century. This particular 1950 Delahaye, a celebrated 135M model, was one of the rare examples bodied by French Carrossier, Jean Barou. It’s the recipient of a fresh restoration by a leading specialist in France, Jean-Paul Tisserand, and it is now poised for a limitless second act.

Émile Delahaye was a gifted engineer who developed his first combustion engine for the shipping industry at an early age. He quickly shifted gears to automobiles and debuted his first car in 1894 at the inaugural Paris Motor Show, before the legendary institution even had a name. He began racing his cars to lure customers and he soon found partners in George Morane and Leon Desmarais, who owned an ideal factory in Paris. Due to ailing health, Émile was forced to retire and succumbed to his illness in 1905, but the legacy he began lived on to become one of France’s grandest marques in history. Thereafter, Delahaye dealt predominantly in industrial vehicles until Madame Desmarais took the reins and ordered the operations manager to shift their efforts to exclusive, prestige automobiles. Chief Engineer, Amédée Varlet, hired a talented young designer, Jean François, to return the flailing company to its racing roots. The newly instituted racing program pulled focus on luxury as well as performance and soon garnered acclaim across France. With brilliant showings at Le Mans and races across France, they were off to the races, so to speak. In 1935, Delahaye introduced the 135, a new model that once again reminded the world of their racing pedigree. The 135 boasted a daring engine that continually evolved each year. Delahaye’s 135 secured a win at the 1937 Monte Carlo Rally and Le Mans in 1938. Myriad victories followed. In the aftermath of World War II, Delahaye resumed production with the 135M, which returned with a more powerful 3.6-litre, overhead-valve, six-cylinder engine with triple Solex carburetors mated to a four-speed transmission and gearbox. Coachbuilders were de rigueur in Europe at this time and each chassis and engine were passed on to the most famed coachbuilders of the era. In a golden age for automobile design, coachbuilders delivered bespoke automobiles that were handcrafted works of art. Not surprisingly, France, with its innate love for art and culture, would lead the world in the artistry of coachbuilding. This particular car is one of the rare Delahayes bodied by Jean Barou.

Chassis number 805006 came from an important Belgian collection, which commissioned renowned Atelier Tisserand for the restoration. This magnificent Delahaye was the last automobile restored by Jean-Paul Tisserand. From a swan song to an illustrious career, the meticulous restoration is captured in a short, beautifully shot documentary. Back when Tisserand embarked on the project, this cabriolet was believed to have been bodied by Guilloré. After consulting with historian and Delahaye Club President, Jean-Paul Tissot, the car’s true identity was revealed. Its previous owner, from Normandy, had registered the car many years ago with the Delahaye Club of France. This particular automobile had evidently finished third in the 1950 Grand Prix Tourisme in Nice. Original documentation from the race clearly shows the body was designed by Barou. Based in Cournonsur-Rhône, Barou designed beautiful bodies for Jaguar, Talbot-Lago and Delahaye. Very few Delahaye bodies by Barou are actually known, making this car quite a rare find. Tissot also used his resources to determine that this 135M Chassis number 805006 corresponds to one of the last of the 80500 series that was manufactured by the factory during the period 1950 to 1952. Further, the current engine, number 831927 while not original to the car is in fact the correct Type 11S 103, a common occurance in cars that have been raced in period.

Jean-Paul Tisserand conducted a meticulously detailed mechanical and aesthetic restoration over three years, which was documented with photographs, a history file, and a short film. Today, this magnificent automobile presents almost flawlessly with a rich mahogany exterior and matching top offset by stunning brightwork that curves seductively with the curvaceous body of the car. The sumptuous upholstery was undertaken by specialist Manual Goncalves; this too was his final project. Bourgogne Rouge leather seats, trim, and dashboard are offset by elegant, beige gauges, bakelite knobs and carpeting. The beige floor mats are trimmed in matching burgundy, which is a simple detail that makes quite a lovely impact. The color scheme inside the cockpit truly is haute French couture. Beneath the hood, the six-cylinder, Delahaye Paris-stamped engine, and triple Solex carburetors present beautifully and sound even more enticing as the car hums to life. Each Delahaye is a bespoke, singular beauty. This notable, rare Barou-bodied Delahaye has enjoyed a world-class restoration and represents a rare opportunity to acquire a timeless vehicle that will likely be welcome at any concours or rally event.

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