Class Sponsor

Year: 1936

Manufacturer: Delahaye

Model: Figoni-Falaschi 135 Competition Disappearing Top Convertible

Country: USA

Kenneth Smith

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1936 Delahaye Figoni & Falaschi 135 Competition Disappearing Top Convertible

International Best of Show Elegance Award Greenwich Concours d’Elegance 2019 & The Hotel Hershey Award, The Elegance at Hershey 2019

This is the famed “Talk of Paris” car,  so dubbed due to the substantial stir it created in the car world when first displayed in June, 1936.  It is the very first of the streamlined Delahaye 135 Competition Convertibles by Figoni & Falaschi, chassis 46864 with Figoni Body #581.  We have copies of Prefecture de Police registrations for all three French owners.

Claude Figoni, Joseph’s son, described how his father anguished over this car, the first streamlined Figoni convertible.  An earlier 1936 coupe is now in the Patterson Collection in Louisville, Kentucky, USA.  Claude described how his father met frequently with his personal friend named Wolff, at that time one of the wealthiest men in Europe. Figoni described his vision of a wind-cheating (fine et elanceé) streamlined teardrop design, for which Figoni would become internationally famous on this and other marques.  Wolff wanted a show car, but also a car that he could eventually race, a dream realized by later hiring the famous French racing team of Guy Mairesse and Paul Vallée to campaign the car.  We have a photo of the car, kindly supplied to us by Claude, being piloted by the pair in the 1949 Rallye de Monte Carlo.  

This design is a one-off, unique piece, 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 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.

With both show and race in mind, a Delahaye 135 Competition was ordered with 3.5-litre racing engine, gearbox and chassis.  With Figoni’s goal of clothing this car with an uninterrupted coach line, he developed a disappearing top for this car and we have a copy of that Figoni patent issued just prior to the construction of this car.  Rarely do competitive racing chassis and imaginative aerodynamic coachwork come together so splendidly in the same car.

“This is one of the most elegant creations of Joseph Figoni and one of the most important Delahaye cars.”

“The chassis 46864 is correct in all respects.”

Club Delahaye France ArchivesChassis 46864 has been authenticated by Club Delahaye France and Figoni records.  We have a copy of the build sheet for the car, a kind gift from Claude Figoni, which the car matches exactly.  All numbers match original records, all owners are known from new.  It is a consistent Best In Show, Best Paint, Best Pre-War, etc winner and is at the Premier Classic Car Club of America level, its highest, having never scored less than a perfect 100-Points at every CCCA Grand Classic in which it was entered over the last 17 years.


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