Russo and Steele is best-known for its auctions of muscle cars, sports cars and mid-range crowd pleasers, but an interesting coachbuilt French classic has been added to its Scottsdale sale in January.
The car is a 1948 Delahaye 135 Dandy Grand Luxe with a hand-built convertible body by the French carrossier Henri Chapron, an unusual entry for the Scottsdale-based auction and one that should gain the attention of high-end collectors of French classics.
Delahaye’s 135 model was designed by Jean Francois and built from 1935 through 1954, each produced by the factory as a rolling chassis ready for the wealthy customer to provide the body through a variety of coachbuilders, including such celebrated designers as Figoni et Falaschi, Letourner et Marchand, Saoutchik, Guillore, Franay, Graber and Chapron.
“This 1948 model, similar to the 135Ms that the Paris-based firm had built before the outbreak of World War II, is essentially a pre-war French luxury car,” the auction company said in a news release. “The hand-built Henri Chapron Carrossier body is in a style known as the Dandy Grand Luxe.”
The Delahaye was purchased by its current owner, Kent Shodeen, in the mid-1970s when “they weren’t as expensive,” Shodeen is quoted in the news release. “People hadn’t caught on to them yet.”
Shodeen parked the car in his garage for a quarter century after purchase, then shipped it off to restorer Dan McMahon, owner of International Auto Restoration in Oak Lawn, Illinois. The car was pretty much a wreck, the release says, with much of the mechanics and bodywork needing to be rebuilt and fabricated.
Leading experts in French car restoration, such as Alan Taylor of Escondido, California, who rebuilt the Cotal four-speed pre-selector gearbox, were called in to assist in the complex effort.
When the Delahaye was finally in sparkling condition, it debuted at the 2006 Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance in Michigan, where it won Best in Class: Post War European. The Delahaye was invited to the prestigious Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, where it was shown in 2007.
Russo and Steele’s Scottsdale auction is scheduled for January 17-21 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick during Arizona’s classic car week. For information, visit the auction website.