The Paris coachbuilder Figoni et Falaschi was one of the most glamorous in pre-war Europe. No wonder then that it was chosen as the styling firm to craft the sleek body of this very special French sport coupe. French manufacturer Delahaye had a proud history of potent racing machines, none more successful than the 135MS with victories at the Monte Carlo rally and the 24 Hours of Le Mans to its credit. The MS was based on the short-wheelbase 135; the M carried a larger version of the inline-6 displacing 3.6L, and the “S” version used triple Solex downdraught carburetors feeding air and fuel to special OHV heads with two intake valves per cylinder. In competition form that yielded more than 160 horsepower—40 more than the stock 135M.
Many 135MS Delahayes were used in competition and thus used more modest, functional body panels, but this particular coupe received a showcar-level coachwork. Some have noted the low, swept-back profile is reminiscent of another exotic French coupe built the same year—the Bugatti Type 57S Atalante. Like that famous Bugatti the 135MS has rear-hinged carriage-style (or “suicide”) doors to better clear the teardrop-shaped rear fenders which blend smoothly into the tapered rear deck that features prominent dorsal trim. Just below those rear-hinged doors are running boards that—wearing a splash of chrome—sweep fluidly into front fenders that complement the rears, but add an interesting twist in the form of gentle points even with the wheel’s midline. The long cowl looks almost formal in profile but from higher angles reveals a more wedge-like shape that flares out into the deeply raked windscreen. The sills of the domed side windows plunge down from that raked A-pillar toward those teardrop rear fenders.
The aerodynamic profile is not merely cosmetic. The low-drag shape, together with the high-output straight-6 and a special long-legged 3.42:1 axle ratio combined to give this special 135MS a top speed north of 100mph. That plus big Bendix brakes behind the 17-inch spoke wheels and special tuning on the independent front and live-axle rear suspension made the car an exceptional high-speed grand-tourer. An exceptionally luxurious one as well, with interior appointments comprised of rich walnut and leather in classic style. But there is technology as well, most notably in the form of the clever Cotal electromagnetic 4-speed gearbox which is operated by a tiny lever in a polished metal gate on a stalk extending from the steering column. With this unique innovation, once underway, the car can be shifted up or down without the use of the clutch.
The Figoni et Falaschi styled Delahaye 135MS blends style and speed into something timeless and elegant—the perfect subject to be immortalized as a precision collectible and the latest in Automodello’s ONE24™ Series. It comes Standard Edition in Aubergine as one of 199. Or as one of two Tribute Editions in Bleu Clair Métallisé as one of just 37 or in Lark Métallisé as one of just 43 to celebrate Automodello’s first decade which began on April Fool’s 2010 with the 1:43 release of the Griffith Series 200. Congratulations on adding this fine 1:24 replica to your collection.