Lot 153

2022   |   Pebble Beach Auctions

1939 Delage D8-120 Cabriolet Grand Luxe

From The Tony Vincent Estate Collection

Coachwork by Chapron

SOLD $940,000

Estimate

$800,000 - $1,200,000

Chassis

51980

Engine

51980

Car Highlights

Exquisite and Rare Coachwork by One of the Era’s Most Revered Coachbuilders

Sumptuous One-Off Cabriolet Body; Signature Henri Chapron Design

Specially Ordered by Automobiles Delahaye in 1939 and Bodied in 1946

Winner of Two Prestigious Awards at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®

A Spectacular Centerpiece of The Tony Vincent Estate Collection

Technical Specs

4,300 CC Inline 8-Cylinder Engine

Single Twin-Choke Stromberg Carburetor

90 BHP at 4,000 RPM

4-Speed Cotal Preselect Gearbox

4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes

Front Parallel-Wishbone Suspension with Transverse Leaf Spring

Rear Live-Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs

Saleroom Addendum

Please note that the brakes may require servicing before use.

Register to Bid

Garth Hammers

Automobiles Delahaye, Paris, France (chassis acquired new circa 1939)

First Private Owner, Egypt, (acquired from the above in 1948)

Robert Grier, Long Island, New York (acquired from the above circa 1953)

Cal Bedell, Glen Cove, Long Island, New York (acquired from the above circa 1968)

Manny Dragone, Bridgeport, Connecticut (acquired from the above in late 1980s)

Alfredo Brener, Houston, Texas (acquired from the above in the early 1990s)

Jerome Sauls, New Hope, Pennsylvania (acquired from the above via Manny Dragone, circa 1996)

Joseph A. Murphy, Beaver, Pennsylvania (acquired from the above circa 1996)

Jerome Sauls, New Hope, Pennsylvania (re-acquired from the above in 1998)

Tony Vincent (acquired from the above in 2003)

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, 1995 (Third in Class)

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, 1999 (First in Class)

Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, Connecticut, 2002 (People’s Choice Award)

AACA Eastern Division National Fall Meet, Pennsylvania, 2002 (First Junior Award)

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, 2005 (Most Elegant Convertible)

Delahaye assumed control of the Delage company in 1935, the same year that a new Delage sales and marketing company, SNAD, was established. As a result of the reorganization, Delahaye was to become a sporting marque, while Delage would be positioned at the top of the luxury market. In January 1936, work commenced on a new eight-cylinder chassis that was intended to carry the most luxurious coachwork designed by the very elite of French carrossiers.

The existing 3,227 cc six-cylinder engine that powered the successful Delahaye 135 model was re-engineered as Delage’s 4.3-liter eight cylinder, and was a paragon of smooth and quiet running. Making operation even more luxurious, the highly successful Cotal electromagnetic preselect gearbox was specified.

Within a short period of time, magnificent coachbuilt creations underpinned by the opulent D8-100 chassis, along with its slightly more powerful sister model, the D8-120, became the absolute queens of the French concours circuit.

The history of chassis 51980 is particularly fascinating, as it was one of the last D8-120s built in 1939, and the chassis may have been intended for an entry in the 1939 Paris Motor Show. However, the salon was canceled due to the outbreak of WWII, and it remained unsold and hidden in Paris for the duration of the war. In 1946, the chassis went to celebrated coachbuilder Henri Chapron, who clothed it with one-off, luxurious flowing lines, blended with his subtle signature curvatures, creating a masterpiece, which, in its own way, was a paean to the great cars of the late 1930s.

Included with the car is a copy of the order for coachwork placed by Delahaye, dated May 13, 1946. It stated that Chapron would be receiving Delage D8-120 chassis 51980 with engine 51980, on which to build a Cabriolet “Grand Luxe.” Delahaye might have had great difficulty in selling such an expensive automobile in impoverished postwar France, as the order was notated “Egypt” – where it was believed that the one-off, open Delage was eventually delivered.

The multiple orders and correspondence in the accompanying file between Delahaye and Chapron are quite interesting. They specify the Grand Luxe style coachwork, which included a pointed tail and folding windscreen, a bonnet with louvers on top, aviation-style bumpers, twin fog lamps, running boards, Torpedo Special grille, interior wood in Grand Luxe with inlays on the instrument panel and a chrome motif, and two suitcases in the luggage compartment. Finally, the car was to be painted in Capri Blue and Valentine Red and accented by a red leather interior, incorporating small pleats.

Little is known about the Delage’s time in Egypt, and it is believed that 51980 returned to France a few years later. The Grand Luxe then came to America in the 1950s, where it was first owned by Robert Grier, a photographer who had previously acquired another D8-120 at the 1939 New York International Auto Show, and was a friend of Henry Austin Clark Jr., an early collector and founder of the famous Long Island Automotive Museum.

The car remained with Bob Grier until the late 1960s, when it passed to Cal Bedell of Glen Cove, Long Island, New York, with whom it remained, kept in storage, for approximately 15 years. Well-known dealer and collector Manny Dragone, who had been pursuing the Delage for many years, acquired it in a trade in the late 1980s. Soon after, showing approximately 16,000 miles, 51980 was acquired by respected Houston-based collector Alfredo Brener who had it restored in maroon and black, and earned a class award at Pebble Beach in 1995. About a year later, the Delage was sold again via Mr. Dragone to noted collector Jerome Sauls of Pennsylvania. Mr. Sauls soon sold the Delage to nearby collector, Dr. Joseph A. Murphy, only to reacquire it in 1998. Improving on the Brener restoration, Sauls returned the D8-120 to its spectacular original color combination and earned First in Class honors at Pebble Beach in 1999. He maintained ownership of the Delage until it was sold to Tony Vincent in 2003.

During its nearly 20 years in The Tony Vincent collection this magnificent Delage has been cosmetically and mechanically maintained, keeping it on-point for its concours appearances, including a return to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® in 2005 for the Delage Centennial, where it won a well-deserved special award as the Most Elegant Convertible.

Spectacular both inside and out, and from every angle, this D8-120 is truly a showcase of the genius of an unconstrained Henri Chapron. Its known history and early documentation only add to its desirability, and its sensational presentation in its original colors adds to this exceedingly rare opportunity.