Shipping Crate Find! 1939 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet

The words “craigslist” and “Delahaye” rarely go together, but that’s exactly what we have somewhere in Orlando, Florida, where an exceedingly rare 135M Cabriolet has turned up for sale in what looks like the remains of a shipping crate. Delahayes were created explicitly for the wealthiest and most powerful members of society when new, so production numbers are generally low across the board. Today, they are largely reserved for the likes of Pebble Beach and Amelia Island, which is likely where this one will head once restored. Find it here on craigslist with a listed price of $169,900 cash only or best offer; thanks to Barn Finds reader Ikey H. for the find. 

The 135M models are desirable not only for their limited production but also because the “M” designated a larger standard engine, with the option of ordering it with one, two, or three carburetors. Delahaye was all about a customer’s specific wishes, whether the client was interested in performance enhancements or adding additional luxury features. The one other recent listing I can find for a 135M model notes that the original owner chose a specification that featured an even more luxurious interior and custom bodywork. The seller doesn’t mention if this 135M was built to “Grand Luxe” specifications as the example sold by RM last September was. He does mention that it is one of two 1939 Letourneur et Marchand bodied 135M Cabriolets and the only known surviving example.

I’ve seen pictures both with and without wheel skirts, and the skirts – combined with the exaggerated fenders – add another level of style that could only come from the art deco era. The bodywork on this example is tired but by no means rotten. While it’s impossible to say from here just how deep that surface rust penetrates, cars of this scale in far worse condition than this have been lovingly restored. Plus, the seller has already done some legwork to confirm additional specifications that include the optional Cotal 4 speed transmission and Rudge center-lock wire wheels. The engine has been confirmed as numbers matching by Jean-Paul Tissot, Delahaye expert and president/archivist of the Delahaye Club.

Those additional options tell me the first owner was clearly more interested in having a high-performance luxury car than a luxurious performance car. Whatever the history, the Delahaye has been sitting since 1962, and I’d love to know more about the storage arrangements. Was it in a cardboard crate that someone stripped the plywood off of to reveal what was inside? Hard to say. Florida can either be kind to classics or incredibly harsh, depending on how damp the environment is, so anyone with the kind of scratch to buy and restore a car like this will certainly be exploring underneath to see what sort of condition the floors are in – but I doubt soft floors will stop them from purchasing it. When’s the last time you saw a Delahaye?

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Comments

  1. Will Fox

    Alot of the surface rust on this was likely accumulated while in storage since 1962 in FL. The salty humidity has a way of eating away at cars like this. Once restored the value of this is whatever someone is willing to pay. Offhand I don’t know Delahayes from beans, but I have to believe this could possibly be a
    $4M-$5M car once completed. Especially since it’s the only one of 2 built that remains.

    7
    • A.J.

      Definitely NOT a 7 figure car. In fact, as cool as it is, I don’t believe it could sustain the 400-500k in restoration costs with any shot of owner getting their money back.

      10
  2. JohnD

    Same car was for sale on CL out of Jersey, I think, a few weeks ago. Buyer beware.

    9
    • snarky

      Photos are of photos. If seller actually had the car, why not take photos of the car. scam.

  3. Ralph

    This is either a legit real barn find or someone is looking to lure Wayne Carini down to FL to steal his kidneys…..or mustache.

    38
  4. Classic Steel

    Lot of money for rust and possibly fraud ad.

    Good luck in my opinion for a depreciating car as older car owners die off will be manual transmission fat fender no options or air cars to old to market desirable pricing. The pre 1960’s and 70s will be considered the same as the Harley Davidson market not appealing to younger generations 😕 i know Harley is trying with new models but still bleeding.
    I go to car shows with my 67 Stang vert or 63 Split Win and love seeing all years but do think On many big events who start playing 1955-1960 songs only when i get the weirdest feeling Looking around and see a majority if 60-70 year old folks. I am not there for that age range for a while but just realize some of these non muscle cars will loose market value.

    Does anyone else wonder this and especially fat fender (especially 100K or more cars) fading away?
    (I don’t see cars as an investment but i wouldn’t drop a half mill or more to see it reduce to nothing either)

    7
  5. Luki

    No reason to pay $150k for a car that will take 4-5 years and at least $200k to restore when you can buy a done one right now for $250-300k?

    5
  6. On and On On and On Member

    I have always seen the ‘aging market’ trends to be true on a large scale. I do however see certain makes and rare hand built units as always maintaining inherent value as quality and will remain valuable to those with the gold. We all know these include Duesenberg, Packard, Delahaye, Marmon, Bugatti, and many Cadillac, Lincoln, and early large Chrysler cars plus more. They will always be sought after by the affluent collector. To be able to buy and have restored a car of this caliber is beyond my personal means to remain solvent and live on more than rice and beans. The value in this condition is what baffles me……….But boy do I love to dream……..Thank you BF for a lot of good vibes and a learning experience for a buck a week………Talk about a value?

    16
  7. pebblebeachjudge

    Looks like a Chapron Bodied Delahaye, chassis number is pre-war. Condition is obvious. No way to restore this beast without a frame up restoration. That’s 3000 to 4000 hrs, plus missing parts. Round it to 250,000$ to 350,000$ in work. Not every shop can do the level of work that warrants the end result. If you miss the quality of the work, the car will have to be redone again, so add in another 1’500 hrs if you think you can do it at your local shop. It’s a coin toss. Price for this car, all done would be $350’000 to $450,000 and that would be a win for the seller. Time slot for the job would be 3-4 years. In the end, its a non-sexy Delahaye that has a narrow market and a boring fun factor.

    8
  8. Mcl23aren Mcl23aren Member

    This car is in Connecticut not Florida.

    3
  9. Capt RDcaptrdoug

    $169K OBO cash Only!! Sounds like a very upright car deal to me.
    Shop around — find one restored and ready to drive instead.

    https://rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/pg19/the-sáragga-collection/lots/r0032-1939-delahaye-135m-cabriolet-by-chapron/775152

    1
  10. ILoveCarz

    I know you think you all are being realistic, but in reality all you did was make me laugh. A.J., especially, you need to study up on cars. pebblebeachjudge though, you were right about how much it would take to restore it, but you have absolutely no idea what it would sell for. Millions is what. Also, that last sentence was ridiculous. You’re right about the narrow market part, but ‘non-sexy’ and ‘boring’? Man you guys crack me up. Sorry, it is a pet peeve of mine that so many people post comments without a single clue as to what they are talking about.

    9
    • A.J.

      It must be your car? I don’t understand why you would think this is a multi million dollar car restored. I do think it is cool and sexy.

      1. Unless it is a Figoni et Falaschi body (THIS IS NOT) it is very hard to break 7 figures on a 135M.

      2. Another thing it is not is a Letourneur et Marchand Aero Sport body, which on a Delage D8-120 will also break 7 figures.

      3. If the seller had any idea what they were doing this would be outside with good pictures and not on CL. The back of the car needs to be emphasized, which is the only thing that distinguishes it from a garden variety Chapron bodied 135M.

      11
    • A.J.

      The best comp I can find is this Pourtout bodied 135M which I did see in person and loved. It brought 500K with vig in a much better car market.

      https://rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/am16/amelia-island/lots/r195-1949-delahaye-135-m-cabriolet-malmaison-by-pourtout/175339

      13
      • BillJ

        Thanks for the link! Now THAT is a beautiful car!

        2
    • 1959buickman

      So true, thank you for setting these guys straight!

  11. Glenn

    Excellent book called “Faster” by Neal Bascomb, about a racecar driver and heiress, who decides to form HER own racing team, and bankrolls Delahaye to build her cars. Delahaye does, as long as they can build customer cars based on the race car specifications, which I believe this would have been. First, the 135, which had some success. Then the successor, the 145, which she wound up going against the nazi war machine, which went all in, backing Mercedes and Auto Union, racing teams, with $ millions, and WINNING. Adding to the story, her main driver, René Dreyfus, was Jewish.

    6
    • James HGF

      Thanks. There’s a short succint bio of Lucy O’reilly Schell on speedqueens.blogspot dot com. Search her name on site. She helped René Dreyfus obtain US citizenship.

      1
  12. Iain

    The Craigslist map shows it in Brookfield, Connecticut not Orlando, Florida.

    1
  13. peter

    I have seen this car in person. Missing much more than the seller states and the condition is poor. No floors/trunk. Engine has not been turned over since before 1962. Car has no valve cover or side engine covers and the valve train is rusty at best. Who knows what lurks inside the engine? All gauges are gone or junk. The car is a $350-400k completed project but you will certainly have that into it, if you are lucky!! Totally unrealistic in his pricing. Stay clear unless you have more money than brains!

    2
  14. Johnny

    Well I think when they want $169,900 CASH -ALERTS ME. Since I don,t have the CASH to spend on this. I,d buy something more reasonable–enjoyable. Then think of alot of kids who needed help more . No I would not spend that kind of money on any car. My money is spent more wisely. Only two in existance. Be hell if you tried to find a part for it or try and find someone to make a part for it. I myself think someone is trying to scam someone. Instead of spending money on this. Help a kid.

    3
  15. Gary Fogg

    Did anyone look at the original ad and catch the “Ed in Mass can bite me” hashtagged line at the bottom ? LoL

  16. C5 Corvette

    Craigs list map shows the car is located in Brookfield CT. I’ve been there many times. Nice town, no ocean salt flying around in the air! The crate idea is bogus. Someone simply built a do it yourself tent out of 2×4’s and tarps. Look closely, it is outside on a lawn, not inside a building. smartly they did use tarps on the ground too. I just don’t understand why someone would put such a valuable car in such flimsy storage. Winters in the North can be nasty. It does make in interesting story though! Wayne C. won’t have far to drive to check it out!

    1
  17. William Barlik

    Pay attention to what PBJudge and Peter stated, for a good education on this level of automobile, check out prewar cars website, loaded with older European cars for sale and parts, excellent site.

    1
  18. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    The only realistic buyer for a car like this in this type of condition is Peter Kumar, and we know that he isn’t paying anything near that amount.

    2
  19. robbert

    Beautiful Deco lines and period piece. A lot of money to restore but well worth the effort. Ultimate sale price I’d say much like a Picaso! People pay silly prices!

  20. Kenn

    Regarding the asking price, and considering the condition, I do see that it says OBO!

  21. A.J.

    The price is strong but not insane. If you look back at the last 10 years of public sales you will see 3 or 4 similar 135M cars needing a full restoration in the same price range. At least one was as unique but also as rough and the ask 195k:

    https://lbilimited.com/offerings/1948-delahaye-135m-cabriolet-by-vesters-neirinck/

    This car is now in NZ being fully restored:

    https://autorestorations.co.nz/project/1948-delahaye-135m-vesters-and-nierinck-cabriolet/

    Now, the appetite for project cars has been lessening and who knows what the forced business shutdowns will do to the car market.

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