Welcome to Who? What? Where? When? Why? on the World Wide Web. Your comments, criticism and suggestions: editors#8w.forix.com (replace # with @).
8W is forix.autosport.com's motorsport history section and covers the drivers, cars, circuits, eras and technology that shaped the face, sounds and smells of motor racing.

The Delahaye years
1935-'36: a new chassis for the luxury market


Related articles


René Le Begue, Julio Quinlin


Delahaye 135S


Monte Carlo


1937 Rallye Monte Carlo

René Le Begue/Julio Quinlin, Delahaye 135S, 1937 Rally Monte Carlo

At the Paris Motor Show in October 1935, the new line of 135 sports cars were on display, and although the 135 Special - the racing car - and the 135 Competition court weren't there, they were in the process of being built and sold to a very selected clientele.

type cv/bhp bore x stroke displacement wheelbase max. speed
135 Sport 18/95 80x107mm 3227cc 2.95m 135kph
135 Coupe des Alpes 18/113 80x107mm 3227cc 2.95m 145kph
135 Competition long 20/120 84x107mm 3557cc 2.95m 155kph
135 Competition court 20/120 84x107mm 3557cc 2.70m 160kph
135 Special 20/152 84x107mm 3557cc 2.70m 185kph

The new chassis with their respective wheelbases of 2.95m and 2.70m had been built in the final quarter of 1935. The chassis frames were new, fully lowered, and mounted on 17” wheels. The engines were the now fully developed type 103. The 135 Competition court (135Cc) used the same chassis frame as the 135 Special (135S), but with all the mechanical components of the 135 Competition long (135Cl), usually simply referred to as the 135 Competition (135C).

Delahaye 135, design drawing

A chassis drawing for the coachbuilders dated May 1936.

These new, well-proportioned chassis enabled Delahaye to enter the closed-off luxury market. The coach builders were eager to show off their talents, and they did. Many first prizes were won at the numerous Concours d'Elegance, so fashionable in those days.

The 135S was an entirely new car. The 2.70m wheelbase with a front track of 1.38m and rear track of 1.37m wasn't a 2.95m frame cut down by 25cm, like what happened with so many replicas that exist today, but a chassis of lighter construction, with two cross beams at the rear and a central platform, all united by welded gussets. The rails and beams were drilled for lightness. The front suspension was independent by transverse leaf spring, with transverse and oblique arms and Refax transverse friction shock absorbers. The rear suspension was made up of two very flat and long semi-elliptic springs, placed outside the rails, and Refax transverse friction shock absorbers.

Laury and Lucy Schell, Delahaye 135S, Rally Monte Carlo 1936 Laury and Lucy Schell, Delahaye 135S, Rally Monte Carlo 1936

Lucy and Laury Schell celebrating their second place in the 1936 Monte.

The engine was the most potent development of the six-cylinder type 103, the 103J, still with the narrow cast-iron crankcase and head, but with improved water passages through holes drilled in between the cylinder walls. The head had three intake ports and six exhaust ports into one exhaust line. The sturdy crankshaft, drilled from end to end for lubrication, resting on four 65mmm diameter main bearings, had been lightened, as was the flywheel. The high-lift camshaft was placed low in the block while the long pushrods, guided by aluminium alloy supports, actuated the rockers which worked the large-diameter inlet and exhaust valves. The compression ratio was 8.4 to 1. The I-section forged steel cranks were finished by hand and polished while the pistons, with three rings, were made of the RR aluminium alloy. The ignition was by battery coil and distributor or by a Scintilla Vertex magneto .The spark plugs were 14mm. Lubrication was done by a high-pressure gear pump with thermostatically controlled oil cooler while the low-mounted aluminium alloy water pump, fan and radiator looked after the cooling. The 80- or 100-litre fuel tank was placed at the rear, with a mechanical diaphragm fuel pump feeding the three Solex 44HD horizontal carburettors.

The transmission was by a single plate dry clutch with heavy duty mechanism, the magnesium alloy bell housing supporting the engine on the chassis rails. A four-speed and reverse manual gearbox or a Cotal heavy duty electromagnetic semi-automatic gear box with four forward and reverse gears were available. The transmission shaft, with two universal joints, drove the magnesium alloy rear axle with straight cut final drive; 11/12/13x41 and 14x40 gear ratios were made available.

René Le Begue/Julio Quinlin, Delahaye 135S, 1937 Rally Monte Carlo

Julio Quinlin and René Le Begue with the 135 Competition Short Chassis after their victory in the 1937 Monte Carlo.

The steering was right-hand drive through screw and nut magnesium alloy steering box. The brakes were cable-operated self-closing “Duo-Servo”, by foot or by hand on all four wheels, with 14” ventilated machined steel or cart-iron drums. The back plates were made of magnesium alloy. The 17”or 18” Rudge wire wheels could be equipped with 5,50x18” or 6,00x 17” tyres. The chassis weighed 850kg, and with the lightweight all-aluminium bodywork, the total weight was around 1000kg.

The coachwork was always made outside since Delahaye had no bodyshop. Most of them were nade by “Lecanu” (Olivier Lecanu Deschamps) but also by Figoni, Chapron and others. The 135 was usually a two-seater but the Le Mans 24 Hours regulations stipulated a four-seater with windscreen, hood and doors. This meant that two tiny seats were fitted in the rear, hardly big enough for children, but very useful for spares and tools, and the windscreen was retractable in front of the firewall.

Joseph Paul, Delahaye 135S, Rally Paris-Nice 1936 Laury Schell, Delahaye 135S, Rally Paris-Nice 1936

Joseph Paul's 46094 at the Paris-Nice of 1936, with on the right Laury Schell receiving his first prize at the same event.

As one would expect, the first of these 135S was delivered to the Schells in November 1935 and was registered in Paris as 1707RK. Unfortunately, we don't know the chassis number. The delivery came just in time for the Monte Carlo rally in January 1936. This was the Schells' seventh.attempt at this most prestigious event. Starting from Athens, they drove through Bulgaria, Yougoslavia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, and from there on the common leg in France, down the Rhône valley, through Avignon and Brignolles, and at last to Monte Carlo where they finished second, only half a point from the winning car. After this memorable rally, they sold the car to their friend Joseph Paul who drove it in various road races until April 1939 (using the registration plates and papers of his own 135S, 4400YB5, 46094), after which it disappeared, never to show up again.

The 1936 racing season continued with the following races, and four new cars:

date event car driver result
3-8/03/36 Paris-St. Raphael Rally 7442RJ4 Germaine Rouault 1st
1707RK Lucy Schell 12th
4-9/04/36 Paris-Nice Rally 46835 Laury Schell 1st
7442RJ4 Germaine Rouault 6th
47189 Albert Perrot 7th
46075 René Le Begue 9th
46094 Joseph Paul 10th
45497 “Michel Paris” 11th
1707RK Lucy Schell 33rd
06/04/36 La Turbie Hill Climb 47189 Albert Perrot 1st
46835 Laury Schell 2nd
46094 Joseph Paul 4th
1707RK Lucy Schell 7th
46075 René Le Begue 18th

Laury Schell, Delahaye 135S, 1937 ACF GP
Laury Schell, Delahaye 135S, 1937 ACF GP

Laury Schell in his 47189 at the 1937 ACF GP.

46835: sold new to the Schells and registered by them as 9266YB5 in the Seine et Oise department in April 1936. In England it was known as Blue Buzz 1, one of the cars of the Schells' team Ecurie Bleue. It competed in some 35 races, had several owners and was rebodied half a dozen times. It is now in the collection of Alexander van der Lof in Holland.

47189: this is the second works car, sold to the Schells and registered by them as 6147YB7 in the Seine et Oise department in February 1937. After the war it was sold to Argentina where it had many owners. It returned to Europe in 1988, had a few more owners, and is now in the collection of Alexandre Oet in Belgium.

46075: sold new to René Le Begue and registered in Paris as 1581RK2 in April 1936. This was a 135 Competition (short chassis). He sold it a couple of years later and it changed hands a few times until 1955 when it disappeared from the racing scene, when its owner left for Saigon in Indochina.

46094: sold new to a close friend of the Schells, Joseph Paul, who registered it in the Seine et Oise department as 4400YB5 in December 1935. It had a very long and successful career competing in over 50 races. After the war, it was sold, had quite a few owners and was rebodied many times. It is now owned by Erich Traber in Switzerland.