The late 1920s saw European car design heavily influenced by Detroit, and the move towards mass production, but in the early thirties a new mood of national chauvinism could be detected, and nowhere was this stronger than France.
Delahaye, one of France's pioneer marques, had been controlled since before the turn of the century by Charles Weiffenbach, and during the 1920s had produced a line of steady sellers - both cars and commercials - in which six-cylinder models had always featured, but the specifications of which were scarcely exciting. They were however well engineered and indestructible. It was Jean Francois, designer of the 1920 Beck, who had the inspired idea of using the Type 103 commercial engine as the basis of the Type 138 Delahaye, which espoused independent front suspension, and with only 3.2 litres of displacement proved indecently fast. With an increased bore and a capacity of 3,557cc, the first true Type 135 emerged in 1936, with a lowered frame, a choice of gearbox, and single or triple carburrettors, giving a range of output from 85bhp to 120bhp. In competition form, a 135 engine would give 160bhp and 125mph (201.2kph), and managed a Brooklands lap at 126.09mph (204.2kph) in 1937. It was also reliable and an excellent all-rounder. Pictured is a remarkably handsome three-position drophead coupe with fold-down windscreen and fold-away hood, and was one of the first Geo Ham-designed Figoni et Falaschi-bodied Type 135 Delahaye models, based on the 135M chassis.