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The Delahaye years
1939: not a very good year for Delahaye, and a terrible year for the world


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René Dreyfus


Delahaye 155 V12




1939 German GP

René Dreyfus, Delahaye 155 V12, 1939 German GP

The 1939 racing season opened with the Monte Carlo rally, the 18th edition of this world-famous event. The result was unique: two cars were declared ex aequo, the Hotchkiss 686GS Riviera cabriolet of Jean Trevoux and André Lesurque, and the Delahaye 135 MS of Joseph Paul and Marcel Contet.

1939 Monte Carlo rally, Delahaye

The two winning cars of the 1939 Monte Carlo rally, both classified as "1st".

The Paris-Saint Raphael ladies rally, and the Paris-Nice rally, both very popular in France, saw a most unexpected incident happening to lady driver Germaine Rouault: she was disqualified in the Paris-Nice for having opened her rear axle, but was allowed to enter the La Turbie hillclimb, which she won, despite strong opposition.

Joseph Paul, 1939 Pau GP, Delahaye

Paul at the start of the Pau GP, with his new look 46094.

Marcel Contet, 1939 Pau GP, Delahaye

Contet's car, 47193, at the Pau GP, now part of the Ecurie Francia. Contet is next to the man with the hat.

Robert Mazaud, 1939 Pau GP, Delahaye

Mazaud and his modernised 47194 at Pau.

At the beginning of the year, the Ecurie Francia was formed by the three independent drivers and owners of their cars, Eugène Chaboud with the ex-Schell car, 46810, Marcel Contet with another ex-Schell car, 47193, and Joseph Paul with 46094, his own since 1935. A couple of trucks and a mechanic completed the team. The cars were modernised with a small heart-shaped grill, and all three looked very similar.

Eugène Chaboud, 1939 Paris-Nice rally, Delahaye

Chaboud came 1st in the Paris-Nice rally with his modernised 46094, now part of the Ecurie Francia.

date event no. chassis driver result
17-25 Jan Monte Carlo Rally 31 135 MS Coupé Paul/Contet 1st
7 Mar Paris-Saint Raphael Rally 64 47192 Germaine Rouault 2nd
2 Apr Pau GP 6 46094 Paul 5th
28 47194 Mazaud 6th
26 46626 Biolay 7th
14 47193 Contet 8th
22 46810 Chaboud DNF
32 ????? V12 Dreyfus DNA
34 ????? V12 Raph DNA
8/15 Apr Paris-Nice Rally 2 46810 Chaboud 1st
4 Ex 1707RK Paul 2nd
7 135 MS cabriolet Larrue 10th
3 47193 Contet 23rd
9 47192 Germaine Rouault DSQ
10 Apr BARC Road Race ? 47188 Rob Walker DNF
“Mountain Handicap” ? 47188 Rob.Walker 3rd
14 Apr. La Turbie hillclimb 9 47192 Germaine Rouault 1st
4 Ex 1707RK Paul 2nd
2 135 Comp.Ct. Chaboud 3rd
3 47193 Contet 7th
7 135 MS cabriolet Larrue 9th
5/7 May Coupes de Paris (final) 50 46094 Paul 7th
51 47193 Contet 8th
53 47194 Mazaud 9th
54 46626 Biolay 10th
55 46835 Grignard 11th
52 46810 Chaboud 12th
5 May Grand Handicap Olazur 3 47192 Germaine Rouault 2nd
52 46810 Chaboud DNF
21 May Antwerp GP ? 46810 Chaboud 5th
? 47193 Contet 6th
? 46094 Paul DNF
12 47194 Mazaud ?
29 May BARC Road Circuit ? 47188 Arthur Dobson 2nd
BARC Mountain Circuit ? 47188 Arthur Dobson 1st
4 June Luxemburg GP ? 47194 Mazaud 4th
17/18 Jun Le Mans 24 Hours 12 46626 Villeneuve/Biolay 6th
20 47188 Walker/Connell 8th
14 46835 Chotard/Seylair 11th
11 45497 Bellecroix/Serraud DNF
15 47194 Mazaud/Mongin DNF
16 46094 Paul/Trevoux DNF
18 47193 Contet/Brunet DNF
19 46810 Chaboud/Giraud-Cabantous DNF
? ????? V12 Entered by Schell DNA
25 June Belgium GP 14 47194 Mazaud 5th
18 46626 Gerard 6th
16 ?????? ? DNA
2 July Angoulême Circuit des Remparts 38 47193 Contet 4th
14 135 MS Larrue DNF
36 46094 Paul DNF
? 46810 Chaboud ?
? ????? Tremoulet DNF
9 Jul ACF GP 30 48775 V12 Dreyfus 7th
32 48773 V12 Raph 9th
23 Jul German GP 24 48775 V12 Dreyfus 4th
26 48773 V12 Raph 5th
28 47194 Mazaud 6th
6 Aug Comminges GP 26 46626 Villeneuve 6th
20 47193 Contet 7th
14 48773 V12 Raph DNF
22 478194 Mazaud DNF
16 46094 Paul Accident
18 46810 Chaboud DNF
24? ????? Tremoulet DNF
30 135 MS Larrue ?
12 48775 V12 Dreyfus DNA
20 Aug Swiss GP 18 47194 Mazaud (2nd heat) 12th
22 ????? V12 Luigi Chinetti DNA
26 ????? V12 ? DNA
28 Maserati 8CTF Dreyfus 8th
30 Maserati 8CTF Raph DNF
27 Aug Liège Expo GP (trials) - 48775 V12 Dreyfus Race cancelled
- 48773 V12 Raph Race cancelled

Rob Walker, 1939 Mountain handicap, Brooklands, Delahaye

Rob Walker came 3rd in the Mountain handicap with his 47188.

Germaine Rouault, 1939 Olazur rally, Paris, Delahaye

Just in sight of the Fouquets, on the other side of the Champs Elysées in Paris before the start: Germaine Rouault came 2nd in the 1939 Olazur rally in her 47192.

Rob Walker/Ian Connell, 1939 Le Mans 24 Hours, Delahaye

The Walker/Connell 47188 at Le Mans. They only came 8th.

What a sad end to this racing season, the Schells showing their new Maserati at the Swiss GP, and the last appearance of two V12s before the war, at the Liège meeting which was cancelled, and the threat of war more present with each day.

Raph, 1939 ACF GP, Delahaye

Lining up for the start of the ACF GP is 48775 with its characteristic face. Just behind us 48773 with the 'standard' look of the other three V12s.

René Dreyfus, 1939 German GP, Delahaye

Dreyfus driving to 4th place in the German GP, on 48775. The car was marked Ecurie Lucy O’Riley Schell.

Robert Mazaud, 1939 Swiss GP, Delahaye

Mazaud in his last race with 47194 at the Swiss GP.

On September 3 France and Great Britain declared the war to Germany. In October, Laury and Lucy had a terrible road accident in which Laury was killed while Lucy was seriously injured. But Lucy didn't give up. She sent the two Maseratis to Indianapolis for the 1940 500 miles, with two drivers, René Dreyfus and René Le Begue. Dreyfus failed to qualify, so only one car raced, which was shared by the two pilots, who finished in 10th position.

The Schell saga wasn't quite finished yet, as eldest son Harry became a well-known driver in the fifties before being killed at Silverstone in 1960. Lucy died in 1955. We have lost trace of the younger son, Philippe, and would very much like to know what became of him.

Robert Mazaud, Delahaye, 1940

The last view of Mazaud's car, 47194, before it was requisitioned by the Nazis in 1940. It was never seen again.

On June 14, 1940, the Nazi troops marched into Paris, and a few days later, the Delahaye factory was under Nazi control. In 1939 and 1940, Delahaye produced mostly trucks and utilities for the French army and in 1941 as well, but now they would have to work for the invaders, albeit at a much slower rate. In 1942, the Nazis ordered Delahaye to produce the Hanomag tractor, at the rate of 100 per month. Materials and tooling were laid down, but not a single tractor was ever produced!

The Allies landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944. Paris was liberated in August 1944. The armistice was signed on May 8, 1945.