Subterranean Storage: Delahaye & Rolls-Royce

There are the stories of finds that make you want to believe you’ll get the phone call next time. This is one of them, as two friends discovered an incredible find sitting in the lower levels of a Long Island parking garage for decades, completely undisturbed. The collection includes a 1948 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet, 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III and a 1937 Packard Hearse. The Packard clearly isn’t the star of the show, but the entire photo gallery is worth a look here on DriveTribe.com.

The Packard is visible to the far left; the Rolls-Royce comes next and then the stunning Delahaye. The story is a familiar one, with the owner storing them in hopes of a restoration that never materialized. The Rolls-Royce’s rarity is further enhanced as it is one of 727 Phantom IIIs, and, according to Drive Tribe, “…the only Rolls-Royce to have a V12 until the 1998 debut of the Silver Seraph.” Both cars are in need of complete restoration but appear largely complete.

The Delahaye is even more limited than the Rolls-Royce, as it is “….a one-off body by Belgian coachbuilders, Vesters & Neirinck.” It started its life as the Brussels Motor Show car in 1948 and is believed to be one of just two bodied by Vesters & Neirinck. While it does have rust and other body issues to contend with, the original form is clearly visible with wildly swooping fenders and impressive proportions from front to back.

The Rolls-Royce is also a former show car. Notes the article’s author, “It first appeared on the Rolls-Royce stand at the Paris Auto Salon in 1937.” Amazingly, the Franay-bodied Rolls appears even more complete than the Delahaye, with all wheel covers intact, its original spotlamp still attached and an overall sound body. The cars are all likely being positioned to find new owners (if they haven’t already), and will likely be hard for the discoverers to top for the foreseeable future.

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Comments

  1. Steve R

    It’s interesting. Jay Leno once found a 1931 Duesenberg that has been sitting untouched for 70 years in a Manhattan parking garage. There was lots of money floating around New York, these cars had to be parked somewhere.

    Steve R

    Like 15
    • Dirk

      More likely they were bought and stored in the ’50s or ’60s when they were worth little or nothing. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, I pulled literally hundreds of such cars out of garages, barns, sheds, and warehouses, even junkyards all over New York and New England and sold them to waiting buyers in the UK and Europe. I would have thought they would have been all gone by now – amazing!

      Like 22
      • Dirk

        The money wasn’t great back then but it kept a roof over my head, paid for the gas, and it sure was an awful lot of fun!

        Like 6
    • Rick C

      Not a really nice story on how Jay “found” this car you refer to…he eventually settled the lawsuit brought by heirs of the elderly owner and kept the car. Owner lost car because of missing payments to the garage and was given minimal notice before the garage “auctioned” to Leno and another car “auctioned” to the garage company exec who eventually committed suicide when lawsuit was brought against company and Leno.
      https://nypost.com/2008/10/23/tragedy-in-leno-case/

      Like 10
    • Alexander

      IIRC, I believe the Duesey was found down the road from his studios at the time, near Burbank, CA. That was a great find, and I hope the elderly woman owner who allowed him access to her little garage got all the money she could from him!

  2. DETROIT LAND YACHT

    Just the Delahaye thanks.

    Like 7
    • Beatnik Bedouin

      Ditto from me, and you’re a lot closer, geographically…

      Like 1
  3. jw454

    My great uncle made his living for 40 years repairing fenders that were damaged like the left side of that Delahaye. It would sometimes take a week or more to repair that type of damage. Using nothing more than hammers and dollies he could work magic on bent metal. There was no such thing as Bondo, or “Long and strong” in those days. I wish he had still been working by the time I was old enough for him to show me a few things. I did get to see a few before and after pictures but, cameras and film developing wasn’t as common in the 40’s~50’s as taking pictures is now.

    Like 13
  4. Mike

    I’m confused. The story/pictures make it sound/look like they have been sitting untouched for untold years. Then you see the picture of the building they pulled it out of. Looks like one of those recently built brown cement block warehouse buildings that you see everywhere now. My guess is that they were pulled out of an old garage/barn and then put in the newish building in the last 30 years. I was expecting It to be sitting in some old apartment basement or a downtown parking garage.

    Like 11
    • Charlie

      One of the comments to the linked article reads: “Hicksville was the name of the town. We own them now however, we have just sold the Delahaye to a collector in Monaco who will commission a full restoration.”

      As far as the building not looking decades old, it’s possible that it was refaced with stone veneer and given new windows.

      Like 3
      • George

        @Charlie, Please keep us updated on the cars. It’s a great find!

  5. Alan (Michigan) Member

    Glad they escaped Sandy.

    Like 3
  6. ken TILLY

    A friend of mine in Durban, South Africa, restored a Delahaye 135M a few years back and he told me that the most difficult part of the resto was getting the 3 hinged suicide doors to fit properly.

    Like 7
  7. Oliver Felix Rojas

    This is astonishing. I did not know show car finds left to sit for 80 years from the offspring or friends of deceased owners exist. Thanks for reader comments sharing family history and life stories.

    Like 4
  8. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    OK, I can see how some cars are beat to death in the day and left in a field. Insert your favorite muscle car here. Then they show up on Barn Finds with comments like, who ever left that car to rot should be executed, and so on. But these cars in this condition stuns me! It’s hard for me to believe these cars were ever worth little or nothing. Maaaybe the Packard hearse. Happy to see that they will be saved.

    Like 4
    • ken TILLY

      When they were parked off they were most likely considered close to worthless and the owner figured that it would cost him more to scrap them than to leave them where they were. Who knows why people do what us petrolheads call stupid things?

      Like 1
  9. Guy Gilmore

    Why no photos of the Hearse? I’d like to own one and I’d paint it some weird bright color like yellow or Orange?

    Like 4
  10. Dustin

    What a find! Poor hearse though. It hardly got mentioned.

    Like 1

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