This is the 1936 "Talk of Paris" car, the beginning of the famed Figoni Streamlined Teardrop Period, an objet d'art
This 1936 135 Competition Disappearing Top Convertible is notable for many reasons, including its streamlined flowing objet d'art design by Joseph Figoni, with the Figoni et Falaschi patented (795.769) disappearing top, pioneered on this car (copy in car history book). It was specially ordered when new to be equally at home on a boulevard... or on a racetrack. It has a racing engine, gearbox and chassis. It is restored to 100-point level for Concours d'Elegance competition, and is the winner of numerous prestigious concours awards. But most importantly, as the premier example of 1930s French coachbuilding, this beautiful automobile can be seen and valued as fine art, with all the implications for further appreciation that the fine art market commands. Mobile art; “A true movable feast for the eyes.”
“The chassis 46864 is correct in all respects”
-- Club Delahaye France Archives
Rarely do competitive racing chassis and engine and imaginative aerodynamic coachwork come together in the same car. This was Figoni et Falaschi's signature style applied to a convertible... the new flowing streamlined coachwork for which Figoni-Falaschi would become internationally famous. It most dramatically illustrates Figoni’s famed streamlined creations, in this case for a wealthy Parisian named Wolf, a personal friend of Figoni’s. Wolf could afford the best of the best, so he challenged Delahaye and Figoni to create a car with elegant line, fine et elancée, with the fast and reliable Competition 3.5 liter six-cylinder engine, and the competition chassis... bearing in mind his intent to race the car and enter in rallies, as well as concours events and various showings for Figoni.
“This is one of the most elegant creations of Joseph Figoni
and one of the most important Delahaye cars.”
-- Club Delahaye France Archives
The Delahaye Type 135 Competition long-wheelbase chassis was a factory competition special, ordered by Monsieur Wolf to satisfy his purposes of personal use, concours events and racing requirements. At Delahaye, the competition engine was placed into the rugged Type 135 Competition chassis, a durable advanced design for its time, proved in the coming years at races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
This Delahaye 135 Competition Convertible has been authenticated by Club Delahaye France, and Figoni records, as the original body (Figoni # 581) and chassis (Delahaye # 46864) with all pertinent numbers on the car matching the original Figoni and Delahaye records.
The Competition Engine. The car is powered by a 3.5 liter (3557cc) overhead valve, 120 horsepower, inline six-cylinder Delahaye engine, foundry-marked T35 (built in 1935). It is coupled to a rugged 4-speed manual competition transmission with synchromesh on the top three gears. This car was ordered with the competition engine version, with a matched set of triple downdraft Solex 40PAI carburetors, a higher-compression cylinder head, an oil cooler, and two fuel fillers in the trunk.
The engine and 4-speed competition gearbox are positioned low in the chassis, thus contributing to the benefits of a better-balanced vehicle.
In the front, you'll find an independent suspension using transverse leaf springs as the lower control arm (see accompanying photos). Powerful brakes and 17" Rudge-Whitworth chromed wire wheels with 5,60 x 6,00 Michelin tires were fitted. The wheelbase is 116 inches, front track is 54 7/8 inches, and rear track is 58 3/4 inches.
Other special competition components include:
When Joseph Figoni took delivery of Wolf's rolling chassis from the Delahaye factory, he set out to make the most streamlined body possible. He wanted the convertible top to be lowered within the body. Today, we take this complex process for granted. But back then, Figoni, a streamlining pioneer, had to invent a very effective disappearing top for this car. The folding mechanism is described in French Patent 795.769, «Perfectionnements aux véhicules décapotables», applied for October 1, 1935 and issued January 13, 1936, just preceding the construction of this car.
The Type 135 Competition would be successful on nearly every venue in which it competed. It earned victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Monte-Carlo Rallye, the Paris-Saint-Raphael race, several Grand Prix races, and many other events both before and after WWII. In 1937, a year after this long-wheelbase 135 Competition was delivered to Monsieur Wolf, similar Type 135 Competitions won the Monte Carlo Rallye, and placed first and second at Le Mans. And our car, so beautiful at Concours showings, is an integral part of that championship heritage, itself placing 6th in the 1949 Monte Carlo Rallye out of a field of 230 cars, in an extremely difficult and dangerous race on the rutted muddy wreck-strewn roads of post-war Europe.
This flowing teardrop is Figoni one of one piece unique, combining the Delahaye identity in the grille and hood with generous teardrop fenders flanking Marchal headlights tucked tightly to the grille and a pair of separately controlled Marchal fog lights fitted low below them. The fender shape is echoed at the rear with skirts enclosing the rear tires. Chrome accents highlight the fender trailing edges matching the chrome accent sweeping back from the peak of the grille, down across the doors then filling the rear fender joint and small chrome spline down the rear deck. The lines are beyond stunning.
Monsieur Wolf granted the privilege of showing his car to his close friend Figoni, for tours and other showings of the new streamlined coachwork. Figoni himself drove this car, as Wolf’s eyesight was poor enough to limit his driving. Later, Wolf hired the famous French racing team of Guy Mairesse and Paul Vallée to campaign the car in various racing events. We have a photo of the team piloting the car in the Rallye de Monte Carlo in 1949, kindly supplied by Claude Figoni, Joseph’s son.
You'll appreciate the gorgeous interior's sparkling jewel-like engine-turned dashboard, soft and supple light gray (gris) quill ostrich leather seats and door panels, piped in dark blue leather. The light-colored upholstery is a perfect complement for the stunning Bleu Foncé exterior and works perfectly with the turned pattern dash and beautiful wood accents. Carpets are dark blue as is the soft top and trunk lining. There are so many small touches that make this car unique -- like the upswept curve at the center base of the folding windshield, a theme picked up on the polished wood door panels, and on the upholstery. And, the car also has a set of matching fitted luggage as per the original build sheet. The luggage is finished in reverse colors of dark blue (bleu foncé) quill ostrich with gray (gris) edging and handles. The entire ensemble of internationally competitive streamlined teardrop wind-cheating luxury coachwork is simply breathtaking.
In excellent 100-point condition, she's ready for the next owner to take to the finest concours or rally events and compete for Best Of Show with every prospect of success. She? Mais oui... ceci est une belle voiture française, après tout!
Refined meticulously detailed elegance and streamlined design combine masterfully with competition engine and chassis in this piece unique objet d’art, consistently judged to be one of Joseph Figoni’s finest creations. Show, tour or simply stare at her; a visual feast; to be savored and enjoyed as both movable art and a solid investment.