Delahaye 135 impressed with “the best virtues of the best sports type of car”
We drive a fantastic new sports car from France
How often these days do we hear of a faltering marque aiming to appeal to a younger, richer and sportier clientele? Ninety years ago, this was the story for Delahaye.
The French firm swapped tractors, trucks and basic cars for tourers that won it rallies, fame and the finest coachbuilders’ attention – and probably the most admired of all was the 135, which we tested on its UK arrival as a drophead.
We clocked it doing 0-60mph in 13.7sec and topping out at 99mph.
“The car sweeps up hills, and it has brakes and roadholding in keeping,” we beamed. “The whole thing is almost alive, so exactly does the engine answer the driver’s ideas and so exactly do the controls perform the necessary operations.
“It’s beautifully balanced on a corner, so that one goes round fast without particularly thinking of the process; the steering is never heavy but is certainly not too light.
“There’s no tendency to sway, no soft up-and-down motion.
“Without being harsh, the springing resembles more a true sports car system. At speed, there’s all the stability that can be wanted, as well as extremely comfortable riding.
“The [95bhp 3.2-litre straight-six] engine is delightfully smooth and very quiet mechanically.
“It has the best virtues of the best sports type of car” – and cost just £913 (£45,000 in our money).
New V8 from Ford of Britain
The latest creation from Dagenham was an evolution of its popular little V8 saloon, named the Model 62. The flathead engine was uprated slightly to 22bhp, weight cut and “a distinctly pleasing appearance achieved”. Ford claimed it “put the last word in luxury car performance within the comfortable reach of the economically inclined”, but this didn’t prove the firm’s happiest V8.
Film stars’ glamorous cars
Hollywood stars have always loved flash motors, and their choices in the art deco era were far lovelier than any SUV. Our gallery revealed that Ginger Rogers (pictured) had a Pierce-Arrow V12, Tom Walls a Rolls-Royce and Katharine Hepburn a Bugatti, oddly with a Hispano-Suiza mascot. Claudette Colbert, however, was happy driving an everyday Dodge.