- Unique and striking Skiff coachwork
- Recently completed full restoration benefitting from over £35,000 spent
- Covered less than 500 miles since restoration
French automobile pioneer Emile Delahaye began his career as an engineer and experimenting with steam and internal combustion engines. It wasn’t until 1894 when Emile, aged 51 established the Delahaye Company displaying his first automobile at the inaugural Paris Motor Show. To promote his cars, Delahaye started to use them in racing events, often driving himself. The cars were built for the owner driver with the spirit of competition as part of their attraction. As the brand grew in popularity in France, Delahaye exported most of its cars around the world. This made Delahaye one of the leading manufacturers of luxury vehicles in Europe. Bolstered by the strong client base in French colonies, Delahaye managed to expand manufacturing and move its headquarters to Paris.
Earning the reputation as a symbol of French luxury car manufacture, Delahaye enjoyed a golden period during the ’30s thanks to a technical revolution in its chassis development and the adoption of independent front suspension on the 134 and 138 Super Luxe models. Delahaye’s chassis were clothed by some of most celebrated coachbuilders of the age, from Letourneur et Marchand to Chapron via Franay, Saoutchik, de Villars and Figoni et Falaschi. The brand slowly grew until it was hindered by World War II. After the war ended, Delahaye attempted to resume trading, but the market had drastically changed. Struggling to compete with the likes of Citroën, they decided to merge with Hotchkiss so that it could remain financially viable to create stunning limited-production vehicles for their bespoke clientele. Despite not achieving mainstream success, Delahaye managed to create some stunning works of art with models such as the Type 135, or Type 235 among the most desirable.
The Type 97 was first on sale in 1924 and received a positive reception from customers for its 10hp overhead valve engine and was available to order with either a saloon or open tourer coachwork. The Type 97’s engine is a mono-block four-cylinder with overhead valves and camshaft. The crank shaft is supported by two large diameter bearings. Lightweight con rods and pistons form a very modest assembly, which is well balanced by the counterweight of the crankshaft allowing the engine to reach higher revolutions without vibration.
This particular 1925 Type 97 has been restored within the last 10 year by Roda Clássica in Portugal where they finished the chassis, running gear and engine. Previously, the car has been stored in a barn in the south of France for an unknow period. The stunning Skiff coachwork fitted to this Type 97 was built by master craftsman in Cornwall. They took huge inspiration from the original Panhard et Levassor Skiff on display in the Louwman Museum in The Netherlands having travelled there to photograph the car. Chassis 24484 has been finished to a high standard just like the sleek racing boats of the period, with traditional boat building techniques employed. Layers of steamed wooden planks are beautifully fastened to a wooden frame with copper rivets. The sleek aerodynamic body is highly varnished with no door openings, providing the chassis with incredible rigidity for such a lightweight body.
The unique Skiff body was first created by French coachbuilder Henri Labourdette was the epitome of pre-war opulence and design. Jean-Henri Labourdette was a third-generation coachbuilder when he pioneered the radical Skiff body style. Shaped like nothing else from the period, the first car to carry this coachwork was a 1912 Panhard et Levassor commissioned by René de Knyff, the director of Panhard et Levassor and a pioneer racing driver. René later became president of Commission Sportive Internationale (CSI), now known as the FIA. Known as a great sportsman who practiced bicycling and rowing daily, he suggested to Labourdette: “You know that I do rowing. Why don’t you build this body like my skiff, in mahogany with ribbing and all? It’s light and strong.”
With many photographs of the restoration in the history file, this matching number Delahaye has covered no more than 500 miles since its complete restoration. This car is fully UK registered and comes with a letter from the President of the Delahaye Club confirming its authenticity.