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Selling on Saturday Evening

Coachwork by Carrosseriefabriek P.J. Pennock & Zonen

1947 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet

  • Recent concours restoration by Jim Capaldi of Cleveland, Ohio
  • Beautifully styled Pennock coachwork and 1 of a mere 60 produced
  • Limited ownership and offered from a significant collection

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Nothing pairs better with a glass of champagne on Pebble Beach’s 18th than a Delahaye. The French marque and the finest coachbuilders of the golden age of automobile design delivered bespoke rolling works of art that are truly spectacular. Each example is virtually a one of a kind and their existence is often a tale of unlikely survival. This evocatively styled 1947 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet was penned by lauded Pennock Coachworks of The Hague, Netherlands and was culled from limited ownership that includes a storied pre- and post-war collection. Pennock crafted a mere 60 bodies for the grand marque and this dazzling example, restored and robed in burgundy and black, exemplifies the Dutch firm at its finest.

After World War II, Delahaye returned to business with a show-stopping second act to its Le Mans-winning 135M, which was equipped with a more powerful 3.6-litre, overhead valve, six-cylinder engine and triple Solex carburetor option. Old-world coach houses were still de rigueur in Europe then and Delahaye’s chassis and powertrain were entrusted to the finest coachbuilders of the era. Carrosseriefabriek P.J. Pennock & Zonen, of The Hague, was celebrated for its eye-catching designs as well as its innovative engineering. They utilized less timber framing and welded their captivating coachwork directly to the chassis, which delivered a taut body entirely without rattle so its owner could enjoy the blissful rumble of the 3.6-litre engine instead of the clatter and jangle of lesser-mounted coachwork.

Founded in 1889 by Johannes Pennock, Carrosseriefabriek P.J. Pennock & Zonen became the largest, most illustrious coachbuilder in the Netherlands and was responsible for designing bespoke cars for Prince Bernard as well as Queen Juliana of Holland. Each automobile was unique and handcrafted. Pennock only built bodies on 60 Delahayes and each enduring example is an important survivor of automobile history. This particular Type 135M Cabriolet is truly a work of art with dramatic fender arches offset by seven evocative, crescent side strakes on each side of the bonnet, creating an ideal marriage of form and function. Head on, the Cabriolet is framed by perched headlights and chromed louvers that draw focus to the dramatic grille that is rimmed in brightwork, filled with matching burgundy stripes, and adorned with a red and chrome Delahaye crest at its apex. The rear end of the car tapers dramatically and effectively giving the curvaceous body an angular denouement that captures the look of flight. The result is an automobile of staggering beauty and magnificent styling.

The history of Chassis 800405 was traced through Delahaye with ownership beginning in Holland to H. NDwee of Rotterdam. It was brought to North America by Comens Motors of Kitchener, Ontario in 1979. Alexander Drapanas of Buffalo, New York purchased the Delahaye in April 1981 and then imported it to the U.S. where it remained a focal point of his world-class collection for the rest of his life. During his stewardship, the Cabriolet was ivory over black and is remembered fondly by Buffalo residents who reveled in catching a glimpse of it around town. In fact, Gloria Estefan was photographed riding in the car when she performed at the races and a photo signed by Gloria to Alex is included in the sale. Mr. Drapanas’ incredible collection was sold following his death in 2015 and Chassis 800405 was purchased by the current owner who has had this magnificent Delahaye lovingly restored to its former glory over the course of many years. The interior alone was crafted over three years and boasts new carpeting, a correct new top, and an expertly tailored black interior with red centers. Jim Capaldi of Cleveland, Ohio executed the body and mechanical restoration of the car to Concours standards. Chassis 800405 retains its original restored engine and carburetors and is mated to a period-correct upgraded transmission. Mr. Capaldi entrusted the restoration of the original dial work to John Wolf of Cleveland who has done an absolutely superb job. All of the striking gauges look as they would have the day they rolled out of the Pennock studio.

Robed in a dazzling red burgundy with black contrast on the fender skirts and top, the wire wheels and flawless brightwork create quite the presentation. The cockpit is equally impressive with correct, new black carpeting, and black leather upholstery with expertly tailored red centers, which augments the rich woodwork, immaculate knobs, and restored gauges. This newly restored Delahaye, with a known ownership history that is as limited as it is exclusive, is poised to roll onto the greens of important concours events or be celebrated at any venue its next fortunate owner chooses to take it.


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