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Coachwork by Worblaufen

1946 Delahaye 135M Drophead Coupe

  • 1 of only 9 surviving examples with Worblaufen coachwork
  • Documented with a report by Club Delahaye Historian
  • Recipient of a high-quality body-off-the-frame restoration in the late '90s
  • A sporting European automobile with seldom seen Swiss aesthetics

VIN: 800319

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From its foundation in 1894, Delahaye quickly rose to prominence in the French motor industry. Their reputation for quality and performance resulted from their exploits at Le Mans and elsewhere across Europe in the highly competitive world of Grand Prix racing. In 1935, Delahaye unveiled a new car that became one of the most successful models in its history - the Type 135. Aside from being a natural-born competitor, the Type 135 chassis was also a darling of the prestigious coachbuilding industry, proving to be the canvas of choice for many highly respected firms including Chapron, Franay, and Figoni et Falaschi.

The Delahaye offered here is one of a few Type 135s with coachwork by Worblaufen of Berne, Switzerland. Carrosserie Worblaufen enjoyed an excellent reputation for superb quality craftsmanship and tasteful, understated design. Fritz Ramseier founded the firm in 1929 in his home village of Worblaufen and was joined by his brothers Earnst and Hans, who assisted with sales and running the workshop. Their early work consisted mainly of drophead versions of Opels, Renaults, and Peugeots, but soon, a more sophisticated clientele came calling. Before long, chassis from Mercedes-Benz, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, and Isotta-Fraschini were spotted throughout the workshop. Delahaye was an ideal fit for Worblaufen's style and quality, and the firm bodied about a dozen chassis in period, of which just nine or so survive today.

In a report filed by Club Delahaye historians, chassis number 800319 is one of nine Worblaufen-bodied Delahayes known to exist today. While early history is not known, it was likely sold to a Swiss owner considering the choice of coachwork. In the early 1990s, it was owned by known marque enthusiast James Bandy of Oakdale, Pennsylvania. Mr. Bandy was a past American soldier who was based in France during WWII and fell in love with the Delahaye marque, as he was an owner of multiple examples in his lifetime. He would place an advert in the French newspaper, La Vie de I'Auto with pictures, stating chassis 800319 was correct and in complete condition. It was subsequently restored in the mid to late '90s in an American restoration shop for Mr. John McDonald, who traded it to the next caretaker in the late 1990s.

Today this Swiss-bodied Delahaye is in lovely condition with a well-preserved restoration. Some subtle alterations were made to the design during its restoration, with notable elements including low-mounted Marchal headlamps, rear wheel spats, and polished body side trim. These touches were inspired by similar Worblaufen designs used on Alfa Romeo chassis and highlight its graceful, curvaceous lines. Gorgeous, ventilated wheel covers and blackwall tires provide the perfect finishing touch to this sporting Drophead Coupe. Displaying a brilliant finish of dark metallic blue paint and brightwork, this 135M is eye-catching from every angle. Worblaufen coachwork is highly regarded for its impressive quality, which is apparent throughout this marvelous automobile.

The lovely interior offers plenty of room for four passengers. Like the exterior, the soft trim is well-preserved since its restoration and presents in excellent condition with attractive taupe-colored upholstery piped in blue, matching light tan carpets, and a woodgrain instrument panel. Switches and controls are in working order, including the correct O.S. dials and a three-spoke banjo steering wheel. The side-hinged hood opens to reveal the period-correct OHV inline-six engine equipped with triple carburetors and backed by a four-speed Cotal pre-select gearbox. Club experts believe this car originally had the preferred three-carburetor "MS" engine, making the current unit true to its original specs. The engine bay is well-detailed and tidy. It runs well and is ideally suited for further preparation for touring and road events.

Of the approximately 45 known examples with Worblaufen coachwork, this marvelous Delahaye is certainly one of the standouts. It is a beautiful machine that combines the best of Swiss aesthetics and sporty French underpinnings in a beautifully crafted package.


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