#0097 - Delahaye 135 M Competition Cabriolet Torpedo by Figoni et Falaschi, #48666, 1937
Photographed: The Elegance at Hershey, 2012. Owner: Mark Hyman
You can see a wealth of wonderful classics with detailed photographs at Hyman LTD Classic Cars.
On the Face of It: There are but two original Cabriolet Torpedos designed and built in period by Figoni et Falaschi, chassis #48666, which is shown here, and chassis #48667, which is the French blue and butter cream car we also have in the lot. These have been difficult cars to present, curvaceous as they are, and the preference for Figoni bodied Delahaye classics in the United States means a myriad of examples no less gorgeous and bombastic come across our path.
But, as with any endeavor, there's a point at which you stop and say to yourself that, yes, this is the apogee—the zenith of some vaunted automotive form. Pebble Beach certainly thought so, and today it's hard to fathom otherwise. Geo Ham was the inspiration of this design—latterly acknowledged in the courts—whose artistic vision resulted in 11 original examples. Only these two remain, and it is easiest to refer to each according to their twentieth century custodians. Namely, the blue and cream car is the Malcolm Pray 135 Cabriolet Torpedo, and this red and grey example, (yes, it's light grey, not white), is the Jacques Harguindeguy 135 Cabriolet Torpedo.
And, just to add a bit of nonsense, this chassis is also a Competition Court designation, but honestly the name gets so long I run out of room on my index, so I merely refer to these cars as Competition Cabriolet Torepedos.
Relative to the others seen here, it is not quite the chop-top version of the Competition Court Coupe. That distinction belongs to a particular white example we haven't yet encountered. Otherwise, if you go looking online you'll see a classically shaded blue-on-blue Torpedo, a fantastic black Torpedo with vermilion trim, and a rather lovely blue Torpedo with conventional headlamps. Each of these is a re-build, or homage to the original design seen here.
Just to be clear, I absolutely love all of these designs. In fact, the black and vermilion version is the one I'd chose to drive home, while I think the neutral blue version with conventional headlamps is a car that does a magnificent job of showing the purity of Figoni's original line because the enveloppantes are uninterrupted. (For now, that blue example still calls Europe its home.) As to the two-tone blue example, it seems to be the most faithful to the original design, so it shows less of a distinct personality, but does give us a real life view of what was an original Figoni et Falaschi livery.
To explain further, blue-on-blue relates to this same body style on the Talbot-Lago T-150 C LS. That car is now buttercup yellow and blue, which gives a nice contrast, but search the internet for photos of the Delahaye Cabriolet Torpedo and then simply imagine the two-tone blue livery on our T-150 to see what was an original composition.
Another Round of What's the Difference: Strictly speaking, the Malcolm Pray car and the Jacques Harguindeguy car are twins, having consecutive chassis numbers and having been bodied by Figoni in succession. But, in practice, the main difference to speak of is that the Malcolm Pray car has been driven and enjoyed a bit more.
That said, It's clear from evidence on the internet that both owners revelled in the time they've spent with their automobiles. Jacques passed away in 2007, and his time with #48666 was an incontestable labor of love. Among his thanks were notes of acknowledgment to Claude Figoni, son of coachbuilder Giuseppe Figoni, Bryan Hoyt and the crew at Perfect Reflection in Hayward, California, who restored the car, Richard Adatto, author and historian more recently noted for his work with Michael Furman, and also Malcolm Pray, who supplied photographs and information about his own sister car.
So much knowledge and passion went into this car, with a tremendous amount of original equipment, that the result can only be seen as a phenomenal example of the restoration arts. Particularly harrowing is a photo of the wooden dashboard broken into a number of pieces, indicative of the inevitable replacement cost faced when undertaking a restoration of this level, (photographs of which are available here).
And so I leave the bulk of dribble about art history and superlative design to the Malcolm Pray entry, and for the moment step back and enjoy this dynamic harlequin of proportion and curve.
The page established by and for Jacque's family and his love of classic cars. These pages include fantastic snapshots of the car as it was found in the Czech Republic, and in different stages throughout restoration.
Ultimatecarpage.com: With information on both Delahaye chassis #48666 as seen at Pebble Beach, and also the sister car owned by Malcolm Pray.Back to Index