1937 Delahaye 135MS Roadster. Courtesy of The Revs Institute for Automotive Research @ the Collier Collection. Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

1937 Delahaye 135MS Roadster
Collection of The Revs Institute for Automobile Research @ the Collier Collection, Naples, FL

Parisian coachbuilders Joseph Figoni and Ovidio Falaschi produced this very special Delahaye 135MS Roadster for the 1937 Paris Auto Salon. Instead of conventional pontoon fenders that protruded from the car’s body, Figoni incorporated them into the body, heightening the impression of a singular, flowing form. Using Art Deco ornamentation, he punctuated the car’s hood with scalloped chrome trim that accentuated the curves of the fenders. Its all-aluminum body is built on a short 2.70-meter competition chassis. The dark red leather interior and matching carpets were provided by Hermès, a French company begun in the eighteenth century and known for its fine carriage building.

This low, sleek car appears to be moving when it is standing still. The avant-garde design caused a sensation at the Paris Auto Salon, and its completion provided Figoni & Falaschi with the opportunity to file four new patents: for the aerodynamic design that stabilized the front fenders; for the disappearing front windshield; for the special lightweight competition tubular seats; and for the disappearing convertible top. The original design also featured a central light mounted in the front grille. The door handles were mounted flush to the body surface, augmenting the roadster’s modern, clean look. In early 1938, this roadster returned to the Figoni & Falaschi shop, where the central headlight was removed, and front and rear bumpers were installed to protect the car from daily driving hazards.

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