After stopping its activity during World War II, Delahaye resumed its production in a battered but recovering French economy. With punitive tax measures aimed at luxurious non essential goods and increasing competition, Delahaye’s premium sports cars construction dropped to unsustainable levels. The Type 135 was in essence the same as the pre-war model – with the classic 3.6 liter tri carburetor setup boosted up to 160 horsepower in its liveliest version. Meanwhile, the partnership with the great coachbuilders also resumed, lead by Chapron, Figoni, Saoutchik, Letourneur & Marchand etc.
The Delahaye 235 chassis N°818.003 was shipped to Henri Chapron’s workshops in July 1951. It was the third chassis produced by the Delahaye factories and it will be the first convertible built by Henri Chapron. Presented at the “Salon de Paris” in the fall of 1951 the car will have as its first owner Willy Breitling, the famous manufacturer of luxury watches.
She entered the JWA Classic collection in 2009. Since then it has been driven regularly and is scrupulously maintained but has never been restored. She is in a very nice original condition. On the road, the car proves to be very comfortable, you’re really at ease, the rear seats are spacious and you appreciate the flexibility of the suspensions.
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What year is this car: 1951 or 1952? One can be confronted with both interpretations. The Delahaye 235 818.003 was presented by Henri Chapron at the Paris Salon in the fall of 1951 but was sold to its first owner, in Switzerland, after the Geneva Salon in the spring. So she was born in 1951 but first registration happened in 1952. That’s clear: both are correct.
Black or Blue?
After the question about the year, the question about the color! What is the original color of the car? blue or black? At the 1951 Paris Show, the car was black and the leathers were ivory. Whereas at the Geneva Show, in 1952, the car was blue and the leathers were red. The Delahaye 235 was black just after being bodied by the Chapron workshops but it was blue just before being sold by Henri Chapron to its first owner. Indeed, on the Chapron workshop sheet, the color is noted “Noir Vulcain” (black) and the leathers “beige” (ivory).
On the other hand, on the first registration certificate, in Switzerland the color is noted blue: “Bleu Chapron” (Chapron blue) and the leathers: “Rouge” (red). The same as the one on the Chapron workshop sheet.
Two delivery notes by Delahaye to Chapron
On the delivery note from the Delahaye factory, we can see that the chassis was shipped to the Chapron workshop on July 8, 1951.
It was a bare chassis, i.e. without bodywork. But on February 2, 1952, a new Delahaye delivery note announces the arrival of the same car, as a convertible in running order, for finishing work.
Was the car repainted on this occasion? We can’t really say. But we have a copy of the final invoice from Chapron to Delahaye dated April 16, 1952 for 1,796,253 francs. This only represents the price of the work done by the Chapron workshops.
We can deduce that the car had remained the property of Delahaye since July 1951 and that Chapron had modified the body color and changed the leathers at the request of the brand.
Chapron then invoiced Delahaye for the price of his work in April. The car had already been exported to Switzerland as shown in the document above, dated April 1, 1952.
And the first owner is… Willy Breitling
The car was probably exhibited at the Geneva show and sold to Willy Breitling in the spring of 1952 by the Garage de Montchoisy.
The official Swiss registration document shows that the car must have been acquired in April 1952.
The Delahaye will remain registered in the name of Willy Breitling until 1957. As of December 10, its new owner is the Société C. Léon Breitling SA et Cie. We do not known how long the car will remain in Switzerland. Nevertheless, we find her in 1983 with a French plate registered in the department of Tarn et Garonne. From 1995 to 2005, it will be registered in the Vaucluse and then, until 2012 in the Charente with a very evocative license plate: 235 YB 17. The Delahaye 235 entered the JWA Classic collection in 2010.
Today, the car is almost in its original condition. The mechanics have been regularly maintained. We have recently changed the fuel lines to make it more reliable and as close as possible to its original state. We also changed the tires. The leathers are original. The hood is in very good condition. The paint has a few chips at the access door to the tank.
The dashboard could be restored. The paint has not aged very well but especially a hole has been made in the glove box door. Also note that the color of the dials is a bit faded. But, after all, let’s keep in mind that in 2021 the car will turn 70 years old and still runs very well!