Historical Barn Find: 1930 Delahaye Type 109

This is an historical automobile, a 1930 Delahaye Type 109, 9cv, preserved in an untypically perfect patina that should never be washed off or repainted. Though it is a modest car by all accounts, its history is uncomfortable, perhaps with a significance not often seen on Barn Finds. But please read on until the end of this piece–this car and its crude but significant “Tree of Life” artwork on the driver and passenger doors is one of a kind. The French-made car is listed for sale here on Barn Finds classifieds and is now located in Long Beach, CA. The price doesn’t matter.

This 1930 advertisement for three manufacturers–Delahaye, Chenard et Walcker and Rosengart had this motto embedded in the copy: “L’union fait la force!”  Translated, it means “Unity Makes Strength.”  This is significant for the history of the car brand in that Delahaye, Chenard, and FAR Tractor companies coexisted in the same plant following World War I.  These words are also the mottos of countries like Belgium, Georgia, Bulgaria and Bolivia.  There was a sharing of scarce resources and labor by manufacturers in the 30s in a rebuilding France.  The Type 109 car is listed at the top of this ad promoting the four-cylinder engine, four speeds, room for five passengers, and the curious figures “9 cv” to the near right of the drawing.  You can soon see that every car in this advert has a “cv” number associated with its other descriptors. “Cheval Vapeur” (abbreviated “cv”) is a unique algorithm for measuring one car against another but its most important use was for the calculation of the taxes a citizen would pay on a vehicle–9cv pays more than 4cv and so on.  The variables in the formula are the number of cylinders, the bore of the cylinder (squared), and the stroke of the cylinder travel.  Those are multiplied by two constants (30 and .00015–your guess is as good as ours on the origin of these “magic” numbers) to come up with the product that is the “CV” number given to a particular car.  A 12- or 14- CV car has far more bore, stroke, cylinders, and prestige than the 4cv.  With the price of petrol in Europe stratospheric, manufacturers made cars that were as tiny as 2 cv for the masses. An example is the popular Citroen 2cv.  The Citroen was no limousine but was a great and affordable commuter car.  Our subject Delahaye has this engine:

. . .a 1,496 cc four-banger fed through a four-speed transmission. Information is scant on Delahaye production numbers. There were two 4-cyl engine variants in 1930, but not very much information to go on from the Seller about this car’s running gear.  The little 4 cylinder engine does turn, but no other information is available as to the condition of the transmission or rear end.

The overall preservation of this 90-year old right-hand drive car is astonishing. The upholstery looks original, though drab.  Looking further within the interior of the cabin there’s this:

. . .and that’s where the discomfort starts.  There isn’t a lot of explanation about the name “L. Bardaud.”  It probably is the name of a woman, which makes sense by the sign’s next line which reads “La Petite Gardelle” — translated, it means “The Little Guard (but the feminine gender is used).”  The third line of the plaque reads “. . .par Saint Paul d’Eyjeaux. . .”

This is a photograph of St. Paul d’Eyjeaux sometime between 1939 and 1944. This is an armed guard, and this is an internment camp for Jews, gypsies, communists, and other undesirables not in favor with France’s German occupying forces.

St. Paul D’Eyjeaux is in west-central France, a division where the largest city is Limoges.  The number of detainees at St. Paul Camp varied from 250 to 650 and were malnourished, often suffering diseases associated with lack of hygiene. On June 11, 1944, the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) liberated the remaining members of the camp not sent elsewhere by the Germans.  For the remainder of the war, St. Paul Camp held German prisoners of war.  The Seller mentions the two “Tree of Life” symbols that have been crudely painted over an original round emblem of some sort visible on the front doors.  “Tree of Life” symbols have been a symbol of resistance for centuries, traced through the Revolutionary War in the US, where those Trees of Life are usually accompanied by these words on a flag: “An Appeal to Heaven.”  The uplifting branches on the Delahaye of hastily drawn Trees of Life over another symbol make sense.

So what part did his car play in the occupation of France, the detainment of prisoners, slave labor, and the “Final Solution?”  The answer is not at all clear, but the obvious link to St. Paul d’Eyjeaux is heart-chilling.  Who rode in this car?  For what purposes? What round symbol on the front doors was covered by the crude “Tree of Life” symbols?  Was this car part of the underground railroad, organizations like the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE) that so cautiously found and harbored escaped children of internment camps?  What was carried in that wood trunk?  The existence of this car transcends its metal, rubber, glass, and tires: It is a living relic from France somehow connected with a dark part of World War II that is far beyond anything we can comprehend. 

Yes, this car is priceless.  The mud on the wheel wells; the “Trees of Life;” the brass plaque; the way someone stabbed at the plaque with an umbrella or shot BBs at it. It should be left exactly as it is. This car’s entire backstory deserves a far better investigatory effort than what I can give it within the parameters of a quick Barn Find read.  It belongs in a museum. Every person that sees it must relate to the place from where it came, understand all of the work its little engine performed–for good or for horribly evil ends–and not forget.

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Comments

  1. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    I found this info online regarding this car from Nov.1, 2020 :

    Chris Moudy lived in Germany for some years and ventured into France as far as Strasbourg. There he found a Delahaye 109 in the hands of a dealer, who had acquired it from a farm where it had been stored for more than 40 years. Moudy could find out little of its history, but there is a tree painted on the side and a plaque on the dashboard that says ‘L Bardaud, La Petite Gardelle, Saint-paul d’Eyjeaux.’ “La Petite Gardelle is a hamlet south of Saint-Paul, known until the ’60s as Saint-Paul-d’Eyjeaux,” says French correspondent Jon Pressnell.

    Last year Moudy moved back to California, taking the Delahaye with him. He now has it running, and is waiting for the licensing offices to reopen after the pandemic to get it registered.

    The Model 109 was designed and built by Chenard, and sold with either a Delahaye or Chenard badge.

    Like 29
    • Mike Tarutis Staff

      Thanks, Ford Guy. I was trying to better trace the title to this car but even the license plates are eerily painted in unusual script.

      It would be really a thrill to do a more thorough look into this car and its use during the late 30s and 40s, I think there are mysteries still needing to be unraveled. What perfect conditions there must have been in that barn in France to preserve this car so well.

      I would still think a museum is a perfect home for a car like this whatever the final investigation reveals. I would buy a ticket to see it.

      Like 13
  2. Howard A Member

    A “Whatdahey?” No, a “Delahaye”. Always leery of no price, and the author( Hi , Mike, welcome aboard, quite a write up) says “price doesn’t matter”, is true, I wouldn’t give you $50 bucks for this relic, BUT, aside from the story, which certainly hits home for me, distantly, I must have had SOME relative in those camps, I certainly wouldn’t want any car that reminds me of that era, seems like a nice find for someone in Europe. Delahayes I’ve seen were much more elegant cars, this looks like the “Chevy ll” of Delahayes.
    Since the author mentioned “Dubja, Dubja 2”, der, da big one, my old man was in France. The stories he told were not pretty and I think he always felt bad for the French, and why French cars were the only foreign cars he ever bought or let in his driveway.

    Like 13
  3. pzak

    So according to Fordguy’s article quoted above this had nothing to tie it to the internment camp but the plaque is simply a woman’s name and the town she lived in? The rest is just a fabrication, I am all for an interesting backstory but not simply made up.

    Like 15
    • MikeH

      Probably not a woman. La Petite Guardelle is feminine, but refers to the town where the owner lived, not the owner. Plaques like this is by with the owner’s name were common back in the day.

      Like 3
  4. Roger Hackney

    Interesting story , thanks.

    Like 4
  5. IkeyHeyman

    This car reminds me of that Churchill quote, “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

    Like 3
    • FrankY Member

      @IkeyH, I would have expected you to find a car like this…. You find all the cool cars….lol.

      Like 1
  6. Griff

    We don’t know that it is a woman’s name. The feminine gender use refers to the small hamlet, as noted above. Whether or not it had an actual use at the interment camp is beside the point. Certainly everyone in the hamlet knew of the existence of the camp and what was going on there. Whether or not they were in any position to do anything about it is not easy to discern.

  7. stevee

    As a veteran and as a old car enthusiast, the car is a simple and undistinguished car. Were it not for its painted Tree of Life symbols, it could be easily ignored and passed into history. We simple and ordinary folks and the simple ordinary cars of the times managed to make an impact on the world.
    I live a simple life in my old age, but I would be very willing to work with other veteran old car enthusiasts to own this car, preserve it and present it to others. Mercedes made a glass trailer to transport its prize car. We simple old citizen veterans can band together, and preserve and show this symbol of The Resistance at shows and gatherings. It represents our humble contributions to a T. I will contribute cash and effort. Steve E, Blackhorse ‘68-‘69.

    Like 12
    • Johnny

      Stevee,Blackhorse as 11ACR Di An, Viet Nam ? 3/17th Air Cav-70-71 Welcome Home and thank you for serving our country.

      Like 2
  8. DuesenbergDino

    To get a feeling for how drastically different this is from the later years of production check out the 49 Delahye 175S Saoutchik Roadster in baby blue. After the Duesenberg, the Delahye is my all time favorite to work on.

    Like 1
  9. matt

    This would be the first time I ever saw a Delahaye that wasn’t restored and perfect. I didn’t know there were “lesser”models; but then, I still have more to learn.
    Still, a nice car.

    matt

    Like 3
  10. Steve RM

    “The price doesn’t matter.” Really?

    Like 2
  11. Karen Bryan

    Thank you, Mike, for this fascinating writeup. I agree with you all the way on what the ultimate fate of this car should be. I think this is the most interesting story I’ve yet seen on this site.

    Like 5
    • Richardd Adams

      Karen and Mike, I agree in my humble opinion. An extremely detailed researched report, on an individual car. The best I have read.

      Like 1
    • chas_man

      100% agreed and gave me chills reading it. Thanks Mike for the history lesson.

      Like 1
  12. mariposansy

    I think some of you are confusing Delauney Belleville with Delahaye

  13. Mountainwoodie

    The facts behind the role of the cars’ owner in the detention of Jews and FF would make an interesting coda to the story, if any. Interesting that no one has found out who painted the tree symbol and why.

    More work to be done but a great write up .

    Like 2
    • stevee

      The Tree was painted over a ID emblem ‘Seal’ of some kind. The original would be interesting to see…..a signif part of the story.

      Like 2
  14. deak E Stevens

    I’d clean it up and drive it up and down Robertson bl in los angeles.

  15. Phlathead Phil

    Mo-pawr to the guy that got it running.

    Not a car phor me!

  16. Bill McCoskey

    This is an unusual vehicle to be sure, but not a very valuable vehicle. The Delahaye vehicles pre-1933 are rather plain and cheap cars for the masses. It wasn’t until 1933 [after a purported meeting between the company founder and Mr. Ettore Bugatti] that the all new cars, with much larger engines and chassis/bodies, became the Delahaye cars most of us know today.

    Note the back end of the car. This car appears to have been built as a “commerciale” or a “farmer’s car”. Note that after the wooden trunk is removed, the upper section of the back panel swings upwards and the lower panel folds down, much like a station wagon [US] or an estate [UK]. Also of note, look closely at the rear doors and the back of the front seat. There are fabric snap-on covers to protect the normal interior against damage or stains. Also note the back seat comes out. These interiors were common on the commercial & farmer’s cars, so produce and animals can be transported to market. This allowed the farmer or shop owner to have both a regular family sedan, as well as a small van, as most farmers couldn’t afford to have 2 separate vehicles.

    This car would have been approaching 10 years old by the time France was invaded to the point the Germans reached the area described in the little dash plaque. I seriously doubt this had any involvement in any manner, with the concentration camp as suggested. It’s simply a question of translation as to what the center text line represents.

    I would suggest that plaque displays the name & address of the car owner’s shop, to indicate the car was used as a business, & for tax purposes. France had a cheaper tax rate for small business vehicles. Cars used for personal transportation were taxed as a luxury. Most European constructors of smaller and cheaper vehicles, built these dual purpose vehicles.

    This possibility is based on my experiences while living in central Europe in the mid 1970s. I welcome additional comments . . .

    Like 10
  17. Gerard Frederick

    Wow! Your imagination, shaped by Hollywood propaganda ran amok here. I suppose it never entered your mind that it is simply an old, ugly, mediocre POS devoid of any real interest. Critical thinking isn´t your forte, too bad.

    Like 4
    • Jef Fowler

      I was more than a little ‘uncomfortable’ with how the story unfolded. Too much conjecture.

      Other replies appear to have shown more research or knowledge.

      Do think the car is pretty cool though.

      Like 2
    • John

      Now, now, haven’t seen any writeups from you, have we?

      Like 1
  18. Kenn

    Yeah, but don’t forget “Price doesn’t matter”…?

    Like 1
  19. MR

    “These words are also the mottos of countries like Belgium, Georgia, Bulgaria and Bolivia”
    Are you sure…Bolivia?

    Like 2
  20. chrlsful

    yes, anywhere ‘the forgotten’ realize we out number the 1% (ever notice “the world’s richest” list? it gets smaller & smaller every yr as less own more’n more of the world).
    I am one that never has interest in anything’s provenance (letters, cars, coins). This one I would like to see documented as if it is ‘legit’ I would finally have interest in such things. Here, now, I’m just interested in a neat ol car, how it runs, stops, carried passengers, was made, etc…

    Like 2
    • Bill McCoskey

      chrisful,

      I began collecting rare luxury cars in the 1970s, when they were a lot cheaper. Because quality luxury cars tend to be expensive when new, it meant many of my cars were owned by famous people.

      I have known many people over the years who didn’t understand this concept of wanting the car, not because of who bought it new, or because someone of importance sat their bum on the seat, but because I simply liked the car! So I understand where you’re coming from.

      I’ve had quite a few Rolls-Royces over the years, and sold them all, only keeping the Vanden Plas Princes limo, because it’s easy to drive compared to a large Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith limo or Phantom limo.

      Like 1
  21. James HGF

    1930 Delahaye Type 109” is short on “historical” basis.

    Bill McCoskey explains that the Delahaye is a utility machine and interior name plate has the owners name. Bardaud is not an uncommon surname. The address of the village is “by way of the Saint- Paul d’Eyjeaux”, that is the rural road that branches off the D12 south of the town and leads to the village before intersecting with the D12 beyond the village.

    This is a “black plate” car…works for California…in this case a plate that was in use between 1950 and 1992. Originally it would have had a “black plate” as used between 1928 and 1950. In 1940 there were 1,900,000 vehicles registered in France. A. large portion were destroyed or scrapped during nor immediately after the war years. There are survivors not only of WWII, but also WWI and earlier still available in France and spread further afield. A Morris that survived WW2 in France – not a problem – Morris bought the Leon Bollée factory at Le Mans and built Morris cars there.

    Capture, torture and death always stalked the men and women of the resistance. Only after victory was at hand and fighting openly did they use FFI on vehicles and the Lorraine Cross on flags.

    Gerard Frederick doesn’t mince words, “Critical thinking isn’t your forte, to bad”. Jef Fowler opines, “Too much conjecture”.

    The drivel and conjecture should be axed. Vast network(s) of resistance fighters initially concentrated on intelligence gathering aiding UK and US bombing missions, damage reports, troops strengths, tracking German sub sailings from Brittany, sabotage and more. There were resistance members working within the Vichy government headquarters and at the highest levels of shipping operations in the Lorient.

    I highly recommend “Madame Fourcade’s Secret War; The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network” by Lynne Olson. It’s factual well written, inexpensive and readily available.

    I’ll add an excerpt from France 3 nouvelle acqitaine’s report on the camps in next comment. Link to “80 years ago, the forgotten camps of Pétain in Limousin with photos and videos:

    https://france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr/nouvelle-aquitaine/haute-vienne/limoges/il-y-80-ans-camps-oublies-petain-limousin-1859072.html

    Google Translate for English

    Like 2
    • Jef Fowler

      My comment about conjecture concerns linking occupation forces and camps with a particular vehicle based on its location and a brass plaque.

      As this is a website dedicated to older cars of interest, the Delahaye in question is undoubtedly appropriate. I’m not sure lengthy comments on atrocities or the valor of the oppressed is, regardless of their importance.

  22. James HGF

    Excerpt from “80 years ago, the forgotten camps….

    Saint-Paul and Nexon camps
    The Saint-Paul supervised stay camp was created in May 1940. That of Nexon in November of the same year.

    The Saint-Paul camp will contain up to 452 detainees and 229 guards for a population of 1,520 inhabitants in the town.

    In Nexon there will be up to 845 prisoners and 173 guards for a population of 2,583 inhabitants in the town.

    Saint-Paul and Nexon had not been chosen at random. The two towns were close to Limoges and had a train station. 

    In Nexon, the position of the camp next to the station and slightly away from the village made it possible to ensurerapid and discreet embarkation to other places such as deportation to the Nazi camps . Over the months, this camp will become the main hub of Limousin and the departure station for deportation to the Nazi concentration and extermination camps.

    The two camps had an area of about 3 ha with several rows of barbed wire and watchtowers . 
    They contained an area for internees and an area for administration and staff.

    Nexon had an interior walkway that ran along a 3.5 meter high wire trellis. Outside, a double network of barbed wire linked watchtowers to the four corners of the camp and sentry boxes. A high palisade obstructed the view of the camp from people passing on the road to Limoges.

    In Saint-Paul the guards were heavily armed, with machine guns, grenades and tear gas.

    The disciplinary regime which reigned in the two supervised stay centers was severe, even if there were several escapes. Each camp had its prison.

    According to Guy Perlier “Some internees, kept in the camps in a weakened physical and psychological state, endured their captivity like a real ordeal” . But “there were neither martyrs nor tortured in the Upper Viennese camps, at least until 1944” .

    In Saint-Paul, undernourishment was chronic in the first months and meat deficiencies caused illness.

    At Nexon, the length of internments often accentuated the harshness of the prison regime. The internees could lack essentials and suffer particularly from the attacks of the cold, the mud and the rain . August

    29 , 1942 ,450 Jews including 68 children from the Limoges region were gathered at Nexon ,  delivered to the Nazis and deported to Auschwitz.

    In October 1942, the camp became a hospital camp to replace that of Récébédou in the suburbs of Toulouse. Following the dissolution of the Gurs camp in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques in November 1943, its internees were also transferred there.

    According to Guy Perlier, “this hospital camp turned out to be a dying place” . During the winter of 1942 there will be 76 deaths in 5 months.

    Info from another source with photos, sketched illustrations, bios to follow.

    Like 1
  23. James HGF

    English excerpts from musse-resistance-peyrat internment..

    With the declaration of war,…was transformed into an internment camp, in Saint-Germain-Les-Belles, in Haute-Vienne..They retained different types of populations that the army wanted to control in times of fighting, in particular:
    communists and pacifists, among whom some thirty women, suspected of anti-government propaganda;
    Germans and Austrians as nationals of enemy countries;

    A few “common rights”, a few French or allied soldiers under sentence or in transit and even a few German prisoners…
    But it is with the installation of the French State of Marshal Pétain, resulting from the defeat, that certain groups of barracks became Guarded Stay Camps, that is to say permanent repression structures erected in the against all types of opponents and excluded. In addition, the entire administration of these CSS was put at the service of the policy of Nazi Germany from August 1942 by the collaborating government.

    Second by click on photo of Georges Guigouin:
    “In June 1940, his regiment was withdrawn. During a bombardment, G Guingouin was wounded in the head on June 16, 1940 and was hospitalized in Moulins from where he fled on June 18 so as not to be taken prisoner by the Germans.

    These put the country in a regulated cut in all economic, social, financial fields by imposing on our country heavy royalties and the obligation to ensure the functioning of their army of occupation.
    Relying on the collaboration agreements of June 27, 1940, then on the full powers granted to him on July 10 by Parliament, Pétain became Head of State, abolished the Republic and the liberties abolished associations and the liberty of press, it will put in place very tough economic regulations as part of its Supply policies….

    Returning at the end of June 1940 in Saint-Gilles-les-Forêts, Guingouin resumed contact in July with some of his communist comrades with whom they began to reorganize themselves “in groups of three”
    At the end of July, he reconstituted in his sector, the backbone of the underground Communist Party and at the beginning of August he published an explanatory appeal intended for militants.”

    https://www.musee-resistance-peyrat.fr/actualites/les-camps-dinternement-de-la-haute-vienne/

    No one should be surprised by the political parties and nationalities that joined the resistance to free Europe of the NAZI plague. Nor should one think of these internment camps in the same vein as the German concentration/extermination camps. Il treatment, malnourishment, disease and death were present especially in harsh winters. One German camp was built in France in Alsace although it wasn’t expressly an extermination. The videos in the link on my first comment today can be paused at various points to read maps along with monuments asking passersby to remember the Jewish prisoners who were sent from Nexon through Drancy north of Paris to Auschwitz. There’s also a plaque recognizing that patriots were held at Nixon. Saint Paul had smaller numbers and their first internees were deported to North Africa camps.

    The hyperbolic history of the Type 109 adds no value in my mind to the Delahaye née Chenard et Walker. A modest car which with a “restauration de qualité” might have an asking price of € 16,000 as does a model in France

    Like 1
  24. Bill McCoskey

    James HGF,

    One of the things I love about this site is the ability for a fair number of members to present accurate facts, after taking the initiative to do the proper research. Thanks for your input.

    I’ve done more research on this specific car, and I believe it’s either a non-cataloged variant with the rear opening hatches, or more likely it was modified [by a local craftsman or shop], once it was a well-used car of very little monetary value. The rear area of the roof line has been changed to a more squared form, allowing a couple of hinges to be put in place for the upper back panel. The design, fit & finish is rather crude, making me believe it was not designed this way when new.

    Like 2
    • James HGF

      I believe you’re correct that it was modified by a local shop. I haven’t been able to find anything from multiple sources that suggest such a standard model.

      OT: Typo in my first comment ref 1940 vehicles – should read; A large portion were not destroyed or scrapped during the war nor immediately afterwards.

      Like 1
  25. Gerard Frederick

    It seems this site has deteriorated into a German bashing, Frenbch resistance mythology forum. If you are going to go on and on, maybe you should mention that the French as a whole were decidedly less than enthusiastic when they were being ¨liberated¨ (as per Colonel Eisenhower, son of Ike), the the Wehrmacht – those evil Naaaaaazis – treated the population respectfully and correctly (as per british historian Sir Basil Lidell Hart, american Major General Leroy Lute and numerous other unimpeachable sources) and that the ¨brave¨ French resistance murdered over 100.000 FRENCH people after the german withdrawal, without anyone ever being held accountable. Let´s all agree on — STOP IT! this is a blog about cars, not a platform of Sefton Delmer and Ylia Ehrenburg style Black Propaganda.

    Like 2
  26. unclemymy Member

    “Ca-can’t we all just get along?”

    • Richardd Adams

      and we are about to return our regular programming . . . .

      Like 1

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