|Production||1935–1954 2,000 built|
|Body and chassis|
|Engine||3,227 cc straight-6, 95–110 hp (71–82 kW)
3,557 cc straight-6, 90–160 hp (67–119 kW)
|Wheelbase||2,950 mm (116 in)|
|Curb weight||935 kg (2,061 lb) (chassis)
1,250–1,640 kg (2,760–3,620 lb)
The big six-cylinder Delahayes, like the Delages and the Hotchkiss cars, were the Grands Routiers of France in the 1930s, of which Delahaye and Hotchkiss survived after the Second World War into the 1950s. Both cars made their sporting names in the 1930s, neither was much changed after the six year lay-off, and both disappeared at the same time, immediately after a merger, made desperately to stave off bankruptcy.
The Type 135 Delahaye came along in 1935, almost at the same time as Delahaye took over Delage, who were in financial trouble. Delage's elegance was added to the promise of the Delahaye cars, and they soon proved their worth in races and rallies of the period. The crowning glory came at Le Mans in 1938, when a specially-prepared type won the 24 Hour race outright; this, considering the commercial-vehicle origins of the 3 h-litre engine, was quite remarkable.
Type 135s were re-introduced in France in 1946, with Charbonneaux bodies in a variety of saloon and convertible styles, all in the typically French Grand Tourisme style, though there was no place for the stark and purposeful Type 135 'Competition' of the late 1930s. Delahaye, however, were trying to sell cars in a very restricted market, such that total sales in 1950 were a mere 483 cars, and even less Even so, the Type 135 had become the Type 235 (the same thing really, but with some body restyling) by 1952, and the last car of all was built in 1954, the same year in which Delahaye merged with Hotchkiss.
A larger-displacement (3,557 cc) 135M was introduced in 1936. Largely the same as the regular 135, the new engine offered 90, 105, or 115 hp with either one, two, or three carburetors. As with the 135/138, a less sporty, longer wheelbase version was also built, called the "148". The 148 had a 3,150 mm wheelbase, or 3,350 mm in a seven-seater version. On the two shorter wheelbases, a 134N was also available, with a 2,150 cc four-cylinder version of the 3.2-litre six from the 135. Along with a brief return of the 134, production of 148, 135M, and 135MS models was resumed after the end of the war. The 135 and 148 were then joined by the larger engined 175, 178, and 180 derivatives. The 135M continued to be available alongside the newer 235 until the demise of Delahaye in 1954.
Presented in December 1938 and built until the outbreak of war in 1940, the Type 168 used the 148L's chassis and engine (engine code 148N) in Renault Viva Grand Sport bodywork. Wheelbase remained 315 cm while the use of artillery wheels rather than spoked items meant minor differences in track. This curious hybrid was the result of an effort by Renault to steal in on Delahaye's lucrative near monopoly on fire vehicles: after a complaint by Delahaye, Renault relinquished contracts it had gained, but in return Delahaye had to agree to purchase a number of Viva Grand Sport bodyshells. In an effort to limit the market of this cuckoo's egg, thus limiting the number of bodyshells it had to purchase from Renault, Delahaye chose to equip it with the unpopular Wilson preselector (even though the marketing material referred to the Cotal version). This succeeded very well, and with the war putting a stop to car production, no more than thirty were supposedly built. Strong, wide, and fast, like their Viva Grand Sport half sisters, the 168s proved popular with the army. Many were equipped to run on gazogène during the war and very few (if any) remain.
An even sportier version, the 135MS, soon followed. 120-145 hp were available, with competition versions offering over 160 hp. The 135MS was the version most commonly seen in competition, and continued to be available until 1954, when new owners Hotchkiss finally called a halt. The MS had the 2.95 m wheelbase, but competition models sat on a shortened 2.70 m chassis.
The type 235, a rebodied 135MS with ponton-style design by Philippe Charbonneaux, appeared in 1951.
The 135 was successful as racing car during the late 1930s, winning the Monte Carlo rally 1937 and 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1938. The Le Mans victory, with Chaboud and Trémoulet at the wheel, was decisive, with two more Delahayes coming in second and fourth. A regular 135 came seventh at the 1935 Le Mans, and in 1937 135MS came in second and third. Appearing again in 1939, two 135MS made it to sixth and eighth place, and again after the war the now venerable 135MS finished in 5th, 9th, and 10th.
Engine and transmission: Six-cylinders, in-line, with pushrod operated overhead valve cylinder head, Bore, stroke and capacity 84 X 107mm., 3557cc. Maximum Power 135bhp (net) at 3850rpm. Maximum torque 1731b.ft. at 2200rpm. (On some competition models, 160bhp at 4200rpm.). Four-speed electromagnetic gearbox, by Cotal, in unit with engine. Spiral bevel final drive.
Chassis: Front engine, rear drive. Separate pressed steel chassis frame, with box-section sidemembers. Independent front suspension by transverse leaf spring and wishbones. Worm and nut steering. Suspension of rear live axle by half elliptic leaf springs
Bodywork: Various coachbuilt bodyshells, in steel and/or light-alloy, mainly by Delahaye, but also by specialists, in two-door or four-door saloon or convertible styles, with four seats, or occasionally two seats. Typical dimensions (of 135M): length 15ft. 9in.; width 4ft. 10.6in.; height 4ft. 11.5in. Unladen weight 34301b.
Performance: Maximum speed 105mph. 0-60mph 13.7sec.