Delahaye was a French car manufacturer founded in 1894 which produced prestigious and sought-after cars until the mid-1950s. The most highly-prized of them were those vehicles made with the help of independent specialists whose bold imagination produced cars sinuous in shape and eccentric in style. And the queen of them all was the wonderful Delahaye Type 175S Raodster special version.
It was quite common, in the first half of the twentieth century, for wealthy clients to approach independent coachbuilders for unique, personalised vehicles. And this marvellous Delahaye was no exception, being the result of a request by the eccentric British millionaire Sir John Gaul to the celebrated French automobile designer Jacques Saoutchik.
Saoutchik used a Delahaye Type 175 S Roadster as his starting-point, and redesigned much of the bodywork from scratch. The result, a one-off model with an especially exotic design, aroused great interest from the moment of its presentation in 1949.
What made the vehicle so audacious was a variety of factors: the sensual, drop-shaped design, the front of the bonnet which took its inspiration from a narwhal’s teeth (inspired by Figoni ad Falaschi’s Delahaye 135 M), the widespread use of chrome and the beautiful sky-blue bodywork – a colour by no means common at that time.
Another aspect of the car helped it to become famous, however: the fact that its second owner was the British actress Diana Dors.
Regarded by many as a British version of Marilyn Monroe, Dors was a famous actress and sex symbol of the 1950s. She was photographed on or with the car on many occasions. Needless to say, this helped Saoutchik’s Delahaye to become famous in its turn.
Over the years, the vehicle has passed from one wealthy owner to another. We have its last owner to thank, however, for the restoration work which has brought this four-wheeled work of art back to its former glory.
Saoutchik’s Delahaye Type 175 S Roadster was sold by RM Sotheby’s at the Sport and Classics of Monterey auction in 2010.
Paris, November 2016