Delahaye: As promised, we are featuring the first of several cars which will be making an appearance at this year’s Rétromobile, the Paris auto show. In the middle of the Great Depression, not long before the start of WWII, few things stood out in a community as much as a shiny, new, low-riding vehicle that made any classic gangster command the respect they so desired on the streets. One such car was the 1938 Delahaye Type 165.
A picture of world-class elegance, with smooth lines and beautiful curvature on its frame, the Type 165 brought a touch of the flashy look worthy of a double-take with the chrome brightwork that ran along the car and gracefully wrapped around the brake lights. Imagine the car rolling down the Paris streets, a symbol of power, dominating the attention of all who spotted it.
The car was first released at the Paris Motor Show in 1938 and was largely based on the V12 145 race car chassis. Its four-speed manual transmission gave the driver control of this beauty. Notable for its rarity, the Delahaye V12 engine gave this car a lot of power-245 bhp at 5500 rpm. It was one of the few privileged cars to receive the Delahaye V12 engine.
Interestingly, the car was to be displayed in the 1938 New York World’s Fair, but hit a little snag: as WWII was beginning, the roadster’s ownership was called into question. Consequently, it was held in the United States customs office for six years. When it was finally released to be available for a California showroom, the car was fitted with a V8 Cadillac engine and automatic transmission instead. The car and its original engine would not be reunited until the mid-1980s, just in time to be debuted at the 1992 Pebble Beach Concours.