Societe des Automobiles Delahaye, Paris

In 1879 Emile Delahaye joined the company of Louis Julien Brethon, founded founded in Tours in 1845 for producing machinery for the ceramic industry. The first Delahaye car was presented to the public in 1895. In 1898 George Morane and Léon Desmarais joined the company and the plant was moved to 10 Rue du Banquier, Paris, where it was to remain. Despite competing in some city-to-city races in the late 19th century the firm took little interest in competition and their last appearance was in the Paris-Vienna and Circuit des Ardennes races in 1902.
      Delahaye had no heirs and when he retired in 1901 a young engineer named Charles Weiffenbach took over the management of the factory and held it firmly until 1954. Known to his employees as "Monsieur Charles", Weiffenbach was born in Alsace in 1870. Born a few months later he would have been German instead of French. Weiffenbach was no friend of motorsports and Delahaye continued just a few years with offshore boat racing, taking several victories and taking the world water speed record (54.5 km/h) before finally leaving motorsports altogether. Instead Weffenbach put the company's resources into production of practical road vehicles. In addition to private cars Delahaye produced fire engines, trucks, parcel carriers for the post office and motor ploughs. During the first world war Delahaye's type 59 army trucks became a well known sight on the Western Front.
      In 1927 Delahaye entered a rather unsuccessful 5 year partnership with Chenard et Walcker, Rosengart and the tractor firm FAR.
      By the early 30s the French motor industry was in crisis and with Delahaye's private cars being robust but dull, Weiffenbach realized that dramatic changes had to be made to save the company. Several of his rivals were in for sports cars and Weiffenbach decided to go the same way, a bold move for a managing director who was already 62 years old.
      A 42 year old engineer named Jean François was ordered to construct a series of sporty cars using as much as possible of the current parts. A independent suspension was constructed for a new strong chassis with box-section side members. The engine was a development of the 1927 type 103 car engine (also used in trucks) with a formidable 65mm crankshaft with internal lubrication. The cars, the Type 134 (2.1 litre, 4 cyl) and the Type 138 (3.2 litre, 6 cyl) were introduced at the Paris car salon in 1933.
      With the 6 cylinder engine put into the four cylinder chassis the car proved suitable for rally events.
      A special record breaker was also built from the 18CV Super-Lux chassis. The car broke several records in 1934 including the 48 h and the 10,000 km records. In 1934 Delahaye got a licence to build cars under the Delage name as the Delage company went into liquidation and their factory was closed down.
      Further developements ofthe Delahaye type 134/138 led in 1935 to the type 135 Sport (3.2 litre, 96 HP), the 135 Coupe de Alpes (3.2 litre, 110 HP) and the 135 Compétition (3.6 litre, 120 BHP).
      Lucy O'Reilly-Schell was the only child of an American multi-millionare of Irish origin. Living in France Lucy and her husband Laury became familiar names in rally events with Delahayes. Lucy Schell wanted a special racing variant to be built, the 135 Spéciale or 135 S. Soon she had collected orders from wealthy friends for Spéciales and suddenly to Weiffenbach's surprise Delahaye found themselves into the French sports car series with a two car works team and over a dozen privateer cars, many of them owned by Lucy Schell. The works team was withdrawn after that a terrible accident at the 1936 Marne GP had left Delahaye privateer "Michel Paris" paralysed, but the privateers went on racing their cars quite successfully.
      Lucy Schell wanted to enter GP racng with her team and asked Delahaye to build a car for the new 4.5 litre formula for the 1937 season. The decision was taken to build a V12 car fitting for both Grand Prix and Sports car racing, the 1937 type 145. It was followed a year later by the unsuccessful type 155. The Delahaye 135S were entered in a lot of post-war races before becoming obsolescent in the late 40s.
      During World War 2 Delahaye was was part of the "Generale française de Constuction Automobile" (G.F.A.)for the specialisation of vehicule construction. In 1954 Weiffenbach retired as the company was merged with Hotchkiss et Cie in Saint-Denis to become Société Hotchkiss-Delahaye . Two years later Hotchkiss was absorbed by Brandt to become Hotchkiss-Brandt and the name Delahaye vanished from the scene.


Delahaye 135 Spéciale

Sports/Racing car
Design:Jean François
Engine:6 cyl, 84 * 107 mm = 3557 cc, 2 valves/cyl (pushrod), 152 cv @ 4300 rpm
Transmission:4 speed gearbox behind the engine, either manual or Cotal electromagnetic
Chassis:box section side members
Suspension:front: independent, friction dampers
rear:semi elliptic leaf springs, friction dampers
Dimensions:wheelbase: 270 cm, track: 138/138 cm, chassis weight: 860 kg
Year:1935-37, 18 cars built

The car was a developement of the type 135 touring car. The chassis was of a new type that gave better weight distribution on the car. But many standard components remained and the brakes were still cable operated. The front suspension was independent. The customers could choose between a 80 litre and a 100 litre fuel tank. The driving seat was on the right-hand side.
      The engine was a development of the 3.2 litre type 103 engine from 1927. It was a simple pushrod operated engine, its main speciality was the extraordinary sized "through-flow" crankshaft that served as a lubrication artery. The engine had high torque and good acceleration and reliability rather than high power.
      The cars were delivered with bare chassis with the owners making their own bodies, so each car looked different. Some of the cars were built as 4 seaters to comply with the 1936 Le Mans rules.
      The 135 S made its debut in the 1936 Monte Carlo Rally, finishing 2nd. Built mainly for rally and sports car events the cars also became regular backmarkers in the Grand Prix races both in the pre- and the post-war era. Most of the cars were rebuilt several times, some of them getting streamlined bodies. After the war the Delahaye 135S were entered in a lot races before becoming obsolescent in the late 40s.

Pre-war victories:
1. Rallye Paris-NiceLaury Schell
1. 3 Heures de Marseille"Paris"
1. Rallye de l'A.C.FPaul
1. Coupe d'AutomnePaul
1. Mont VentouxCarriere
1. Rallye Monté-CarloLe Bègue/Quinlin
1. Coupes du PrintempsPaul
1. G.P. de Donington"B Bira"
1. Coupe Prince RainierSchell
1. Rallye Paris-NicePaul/Mme.Paul
1. Coupe d'AutomnePaul
1. Cote LapizeTrémoulet
1. Junior 200 MilesMongin
1. Groote Prijs van AntwerpenMazaud
1. G.P. des Frontières (class)Mazaud
1. Cote d'ArsBénezet
1. 24 heures du MansChaboud/Trémoulet
1. Cote LapizeBenazet
1. La TurbieRouault
1. Rallye Paris-NiceChaboud
1. Coupe de ParisRouault
1. The Invitation Road Car RaceArthur Dobson
1. Whitsun Meeting MountainWalker
1. Bathurst 500 milesSnow

135S Chassis log:

N° 46??? November 1935, Reg 1707 RK
Roadster. Body by Figoni. First genuine 135S. To Mrs. O'Reilly-Schell to be entererd by her in rally events. After the 1937 Monte Carlo Rally sold to J. Paul. Raced by Paul. Winner of 1937 Rallye Paris-Nice.
(Schell, Paul - disappered)

N° 46094 December 1935, Reg 4400 YB5
Course. To J. Paul. Raced by Paul 1936-39. Winner of 1936 Rallye de l'A.C.F, Coupe d'Automne, Cote Lapize, 1937 Coupes du Printemps, oupe d'Automne, 1938 Junior 200 Miles, 1947 & 1948 G.P. des Frontières.
(Paul. Post-war: Vallée, Mairesse, Raph, Mozard, Le Marois, Soyer, Terzulli, Peugeot, Charbonneaux, Peugeot, Sage, Traber)

N° 46084 February 1936, Reg 7102 RK1
Course. 1936 for "Danniel" (D. Porthaud). Raced by Danniel/Marie 1936-37. Second at Le Mans 1938.
(Porthaud. Post-war: Cornet, Pozzi, Auriac, Schroiwn, Richer-Delavaud, Tainguy)

N° 46625 April 1936, 794 RK3
Course. Body by Chapron For "Heldé" (P. Louis-Dreyfus) As "Helde" became semi-works driver for Talbot the car remained unused. Sold to Henri Langlois alias "Jacques Seylair" in 1936. Raced by Seylair/Benazet. Winner of 1938 Côte d'Ars & Côte Lapize. Rebuilt with new body by Guilloré.
(Helde, Langlois, Benazet. Post-war: Tellier, Lavergne, Pillet, Malmoulet, Bernard, De Négre, Corteel, Broual, Vendiesse, Kaus, Louwman/Meijer, Procter, Allocca)

N° 46835 April 1936, Reg 9266 YB5
Roadster. To Mrs. O'Reilly-Schell to be raced by Laury Schell & Carriere. Known as "Blue Buzz I" Rebuilt for 1937. Raced by Schell/Carriere 1937. Winner of 1936 Rallye Paris-Nice, 1948 2 heures de Paris.
(Schell, Chotard. Post-war: Pozzoli, Braud, Le Blanc, Bernard, Bignon, Beaujean, Bardinon, Pozzi, van der Lof)

N° 47191? May 1936, Reg 9715 RK3
Course. Body by Lecanu? For R. Brunet. Raced by Brunet with Zehender?, Martin? and Parguel as co-drivers during 1936-37.
(Brunet, Parguel - disapperaed)

N° 46626 May 1936, Reg 6885 RK3
Course. Body by Fignoni. For L. Villeneuve. Retained by Villeneuve into the post-war era.
(Villeneuve. Post-war: Devinot, Bernard, Bardinon, Bernard, Charbonneaux)

N° 46631? May 1936, Reg 6047 RK4
Course. Body by Lecanu. 1936 For "M. Paris" (Henri Toulouse). After a serious crash by Paris in Marne 36, raced by Mongin for the rest of the season. Sold to E. Chaboud. Rebodied. Raced by Chaboud/Tremoulet. After the 1937 season sold to Australian J. Snow and taken to England. Winner of 1936 3 heures de Marseille, 1939 Bathurst 500 miles, 1949 Australian G.P.
(Paris, Chaboud, Snow. Post-war: Crouch, Bland, Robinson, Polson, Ruston, Mullin)

N° 47187 May 1936, Reg 2204 YB6
Course. For Mrs. O'Reilly-Schell to be provided to R. Le Bègue for 1936 season. Known as "Blue Buzz III". Sold to Count Pierre Merlin for 1937.
(LeBègue, Merlin. Post-war: Schwob, Grignard, Pozzi, Chaboud, Martin, Lange, Safran, Marut, Sadoyan, Marçais, Miloe)

N° 47188 May 1936, Reg DUV 870
Course. 1936 Works car (Divo). Lent to "B Bira" for Pau 1937? Winner of the 1937 Donington GP. Sold after the 1937 season to to Tommy Clark, then to Count Heyden. Sold on to "White Mouse Stable" (B Bira). Sold to Rob Walker. Winner of the 1939 Invitation Road Race & Mountain at the Brooklands Whitsun Meeting.
(Works, Clark, Count Heyden, Bira, Walker. Post-war: Margulies, Tompson, Walker)

N° 47189 May 1936, 6147 YB7
Course 1936 Works car (Perrot). Sold to Mrs. O'Reilly-Schell to be raced in 1937 by R. Dreyfus. Winner of the 1937 Coupe Prince Rainier. Not raced in 1939.
(Works, Schell. Post-war: Wormser, Argentine dont Iriarte, Agg, Taylor, Bamford, Springer, Lalemand, Oet)

N° 47194 May 1936, Reg 9103 AL13
Course. Body by Figoni For Janin. Raced by Janin. Sold to R. Mazaud for 1938 season. Winner of 1938 G.P. d'Anvers. Raced by Mazaud/Mongin 1938-39.
(Janin, Mazaud, - to Germany, disappered)

N° 47192 June 1936, Reg 7866 YU3
Course. Body by Lecanu. for "Heldé" (P. Louis-Dreyfus) As "Helde" became semi-works driver for Talbot the car remained unused Sold in 1937 to Count François de Brémond. Sold at the end of 1937 to Mlle. Rouault who loaned it to L. Gérard for two races. Rebuilt with Delage body. Raced by Mlle. Rouault and Mlle. Itier. Sold to E. Chaboud. Winner of the 1939 La Turbie & Coupe de Paris, 1946 Belgian GP.
(Heldé, de Brémond, Rouault. Post-war: Chaboud, Ankersmit, Blois, Agg, Simeone)

N° 47193 June 1936, Reg 6146 YB7
Course. Body by Lecanu. 1936 for "Heldé" (P. Louis-Dreyfus) As "Helde" became semi-works driver for Talbot the car remained unused. Sold to Mrs. O'Reilly-Schell for Ecurie Bleue. Sold to Contet (Ecurie France).
(Helde, Schell, Contet. Post-war: Trillaud, Pozzi, Girardot, Foussier, Chandon, Seydoux, Davis)

N° 46627 July 1936, Reg 9551 QU4
"MG" style. Body by Écurie Menier workshop. for J. Menier. Never raced.
(Menier - disappered)

N° 47186 July 1936, Reg 9552 QU4
Course. Factory body. For J. Menier to be raced by Maillard-Bruné & C. Druck. 1937 Back to the factory. 1938 to Dr Dinoire.
(Menier, Maillard-Brune, Usine, Dinoire. Post-war: Cotton, Pozzoli, Kogan, Procter)

N° 46810 July 1936, Reg 9591 RK4
Course. 1936 to Mrs. O'Reilly-Schell to be driven by Carriere. Rebuilt to 2 seater. Known as "Blue Buzz II". Winner of 1936 Mont Ventoux. Sold to Chaboud end of the 1937 season. Winner of 1939 Rallye Paris-Nice. Rebuilt postwar with Hebmuller body.
(Schell, Chaboud. Post-war: Grivilet, Vincent, Dejaiffe, Braquet-Arens, Carati)

N° 47190 March 1937, Reg 8158 RK9
Course. For Chaboud. Raced by Chaboud/Trémoulet. Rebuilt with streamlined front body. Back to normal body in 1938. Winner of the 1937 Côte Lapize and 1938 Le Mans 24h. Wrecked by Trémoulet at Spa, July 1938.
(Chaboud - wrecked)

(With thanks to André Vaucourt)


Delahaye 145 V12

Sports car / Grand Prix 4.5 litre
Design:Jean François
Engine:V12 60°, 75 * 84.7 mm = 4496 cc, 2 valves/cyl (pushrod), 245 cv @ 5500 rpm
Transmission:4 speed gearbox behind the engine, either manual or Cotal electromagnetic
Chassis:box section side members
Suspension:front: independent, friction dampers
rear: semi elliptic leaf springs, friction dampers
Dimensions:wheelbase: 270 cm, track: 135/136 cm, chassis weight: 900 kg
Year:1937, 4 cars built

The type 145 two seater was meant for both sports and GP racing. Work was concentrated on the new V12 engine while the chassis resembled the type 135.
      The engine was quite short for being a V12 with a conventional two piece crankshaft mounted in seven roller bearings. To make the engine as light as possible the cylinderheads were made of an aluminuom alloy and the block was cast in a magnesium alloy, a technique hardly anyone has dared to follow. The engine was served by three carburettors, placed on top of it. The valves were operated by pushrods and rockers (1 central and 2 side camshafts).
      The independent front suspension was similar to the one of the type 135. While the car was top modern at the front the rear end was antique. To reduce drag the semi-elliptic leaf springs were mounted flush to the chassis. That created troubles as the springs were in an angle to each other and not perpendicular to the axle.
      A totally new body was made for the car. With its blunt nose it created quite a sensation when it was shown for the first time at the Montlhéry track 25 June 1937. René Dreyfus later admitted that it was the most awful-looking car he had ever seen.
      The car was in fact very low and seen from the side it had a highly aerodynamic shape. The sports car mudguards had been set high over the rest of the car so that they should not disturb the air flow but it made the sports variant look even uglier. The new car made its debut at the Marne GP sports car race on 18 July 1937, retiring.
      In 1937 the French Fonds de Course, an organization with the aim to put France back into GP racing, had announced that 1 million francs should go to the French car built to the 1938 formula that could run 200km at a speed exceeding 146.5 km/h by the widest margin on the Montlhéry track before 1 September 1937. On 27 August Dreyfus with a special built Delahaye type 145 took the record with a 146.654 km/h run, earning the million for the team. Lucy Schell ordered a white and red line to be painted in an angle over the body on all the cars to celebrate the event and it was seen on the cars all 1938 season.
      The greatest time for the car was the victories at the Pau and Cork GP in early 1938.

Pre-war victories:

Chassis log:

1. 1938 Grand Prix de PauDreyfus
1. 1938 Cork International Road RaceDreyfus
All four cars were sold new to the Schell's in 1937/38

N° 48771/151-53-75 August 1937, Reg 7292 CC75

"Grand Prix" configuration with no fenders nor headlights. Won the "Prix du Million" on 27th August 1937 and the 1938 Pau and Cork Grand Prix. In 1945 it was rebodied by Franay as a roadster.
(Schell. Post-war: Inconnu, Domaines, Franay, Mortarini, Goulaines, Gourgaud, Charbonneaux, Mann)

N° 48772 July 1937, Reg 938 R75
"Sport" configuration with detachable fenders and headlights. Was first raced at the 1937 "Grand Prix de la Marne" by Dreyfus. Was victorius in the sports class at the 1938 International La Turbie hill climb. In 1951 it was rebodied by Chapron as a coupé (one piece rear window).
(Schell. Post-war: Lacour, Van Poucke, Veuillet, Proctor, Greer, Gothainer, Hucke, Donhoff, Mullin)

N° 48773 May 1937, Reg 5636 RQ1
"Sport" configuration with detachable fenders and headlights. Was first raced at the 1937 "Grand Prix de l'A.C.F." by Dreyfus. Was rebodied by Chapron in 1948 as a coupé (two piece rear window).
(Schell. Post-war: Lacour, Cuny, Schlumpf, Andrews, Jacobs/Hinds, Ornstein, Schuster, Mullin)

N° 48774
See Delahaye 155 Monoplace below

N° 48775/235mod145 April 1938, Reg 1003 RN4
"Sport" configuration with detachable fenders and headlights. Was first raced at the 1938 Pau Grand Prix in 1938 by Comotti (3rd). Raced again after WWII with Pozzi, coming 1st at the 1949 "A.C.F GP" at Comminges. Was rebuilt to Coupé in 1951.
(Schell. Post-war: Pozzi, Pozzoli, Hull/Mullin, Mullin)

(With thanks to André Vaucourt)


Sports car racing 1937 (GP de l´Automobile Club de France, Marne GP)

GP racing 1938

Tripoli 1938 (Dreyfus)

Marne 1937
Pau 1938
Pau 1938
Tripoli 1938
German GP 1938
Le Mans 1938
Mille Miglia

(A special thanks to Jean-Maurice Gigleux for providing picture material)


Delahaye 155 Monoplace

Grand Prix 4.5 litre
Design:Jean François
Engine:V12 60°, 75 * 84.7 mm = 4496 cc, 2 valves/cyl (pushrod), 250 cv @ 5000 rpm
Transmission:4 speed gearbox in unit with the differential
Chassis:box section side members
Suspension:front: independent, transverse leaf spring, hydraulic dampers
rear: de Dion axle, twin parallell radius arms, transverse leaf spring, hydraulic dampers
Dimensions:wheelbase: 270 cm, track: 135/137 cm, chassis weight: 900 kg
Year:1938, one car built

Ordered by Lucy Schell the type 155 was to be a real GP car, built to the 1938 formula. The 155 retained the independent front suspension of the type 145 but hydraulic dampers were added. The rear of the car was completely new with a complex de Dion axle a la Mercedes-Benz. But Jean François couldn't resist to add a few Gallic tricks to the construction. The gearbox was below the wheel centerline so the power had to be transmitted through spur gears, creating lots of unsprung weight.
      Because of the team boycotting the French GP and because of the financial situation there was no hurry in developing the type 155. The rear suspension geometry and the high unsprung weight made the Type 155 handling much inferior to that of the Type 145. As a result of the disappointment only one car was ever built.

Chassis log:
N° 48774
Schell. Post-war: Friedrich, Simon, Lacour - scrapped

I am much obliged to André Vaucourt for his great assistance to get this Delahaye page correct and up to date. The chassis logs follows latest research on the subject. Note that 4496cc is the volume always given for the V12 for some reason even if 75mm * 84.7 = 4490cc!

Suggested further reading: Delahaye, Le Grand Livre, by J. Dorizon, F. Peigney and J.-P. Dauliac.



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© 2017 Leif Snellman - Last updated: 25.04.2017