Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Franay
M.L. “Bud” Cohn, Los Angeles, California (acquired in 1957)Lenora Pope Lytle, San Diego, California (acquired from the above circa 1966)William Pope Huston, San Diego, California (acquired from the above in 1982)John L. Butterfield, Santa Barbara, California (acquired from the above in 1992)Rob Wilkinson, Santa Barbara, California (acquired from the above in 1993)Current Owner (acquired from the above)
Le Cercle Concours d’Elegance, Wonderful World of Cars, 1968Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, August 2011
When this Delahaye 135M, chassis 801472, rolled out of the Carrosserie Franay works in 1949, it was clad in a unique one-off cabriolet body by one of the foremost coachbuilders in France, a costly exercise that few Europeans could afford in the years following WWII. The Franay Cabriolet was a manifestation of the kind of hand-built elegance that would soon recede into history along with the entirety of the French coachbuilding industry.
Little is known about this Delahaye’s earliest history in France; however, by 1957, it had been acquired by the famed early car collector M.L. “Bud” Cohn of Los Angeles. He kept the Franay Cabriolet until around 1966, when he sold it to his close friend, Lenora Pope Lytle, a descendent of the Pope automobile manufacturing family. Records on file indicate that the Delahaye participated in various classic car events throughout Southern California during her ownership, including the Le Cercle Concours d’Elegance and San Diego Region AACA gatherings.
When Ms. Lytle passed in 1982, title was transferred to William Pope Huston of San Diego, who was executor of her estate, and the rare Delahaye was placed in careful storage. In 1992, John L. Butterfield, grandson of Lenora, convinced his uncle to part with the car, as he wanted to show it in local events. William Pope Huston gave the 135M Cabriolet to his nephew, but the car remained in storage for another 19 years. After a careful mechanical recommissioning was undertaken, this elusive Franay convertible made a sensational return to the show field as part of the Postwar Preservation Class at the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®. More recently, the 135M Cabriolet was sold to the current owner, a gentleman with a passion for original, unrestored automobiles.
Today, this elegant Franay-bodied 135M presents in a stunning state of preservation, and it is believed that the car retains much of its original paint finish, interior upholstery, and chrome. No comprehensive restoration work has been undertaken, and the level of originality and authenticity is astonishing. The even patina that is visible across the car is striking and lends an aura of history and purity that is possessed by only a few great cars that have survived in fundamentally original order. In addition, this Delahaye’s history is particularly well documented, with a comprehensive dossier accompanying the sale.
For the past 60 years, Southern California collectors have dutifully maintained this handsome coachbuilt Delahaye, preserving it for future generations. This is a unique opportunity to acquire what is surely one of the last Franay-bodied classics remaining in fine, unrestored condition. In light of its fascinating history and impressive presentation, this 135M Cabriolet would be welcome at international concours d’elegance and is sure to be a standout at any gathering of important French automobiles.