It is believed that no more than five Cabriolet Atlas were constructed and that 801636 may be the only survivor. With its numbers matching chassis, impeccable proportions and tasteful design, this very elegant Delahaye appeals to the discerning collector of French automotive art.
While chassis 801636 was supplied to Guilloré in August/September 1949, it was first registered on July 7, 1950. The first registration number was 3678-RS5, after which it received the number 317 AYC 59, which was on the car for many years.
The Delahaye 135 made its debut at the 1934 Paris Salon, fitted with a 3.2 liter six-cylinder engine. Delahaye never maintained its own coachbuilding facility, so initially a number of stylish designs were developed by Henri Chapron for the 135 and sold as factory customs. Shortly thereafter, the chassis was made available to the trade. It is not an exaggeration to state that no other French chassis carried such a diversity of hand-crafted master-class bodies as the 135 model. The list of world-class carrossiers who created masterpieces of style for it is a who’s who of French coachbuilding: Figoni et Falaschi, Saoutchik, Franay, Chapron, Pourtout – and of course Guilloré, to name but a few. In 1936, engine capacity was increased to 3.5 liters and a triple carburetor set-up was made available, similar to the one mounted on Delahaye racing cars of the period. This was the 135 M version, which offered a superior power to weight ratio and faultless road manners. As a result, the model and its various permutations remained in production until Delahaye closed its doors in 1954.
Alphonse Guilloré founded his coachbuilding enterprise in 1937 in Courbevoie, a suburb of Paris that borders on Neuilly-sur-Seine, both areas that had a high concentration of classic French marques and coachbuilders. After the War, Guilloré became famous for their elaborate creations on Delahaye, Talbot-Lago, Delage and Salmson chassis. A number of designs were developed that were shown to acclaim at the Paris Salons in the late 1940s. In 1949, the sporty Cabriolet Atlas style made its debut at the Salon de l'Automobile, marking a new and sleeker approach compared to previous Guilloré efforts. Apart from a few trim details, chassis 801636 is identical to the Cabriolet Atlas that wowed the crowds at the Salon. The sleek design of the convertible top is noteworthy as there are no landau irons and it folds into the body using a one-hand operated mechanism. Guilloré coachbuilding operations ceased in 1950, although a sideline of utility vehicles continued to be built until 1954.
“Fashion changes, but style endures.”Coco Chanel
Prices of rare coachbuilt cars have been on the increase for a number of years now – and this certainly applies to elegant and stylish French coachwork on classic French chassis. While these cars have not experienced the recent ballistic increases of some Italian or German marques, they are now becoming an increasingly interesting alternative as the focus of the market shifts. In addition, because such rare and unique automobiles are in constant demand by concours organizers, they provide rich opportunities to show and enjoy the vehicle in pleasant surroundings. It is an unbeatable combination.
Today, 801636 presents as a quintessential expression of early postwar French style. The beautiful and delightful sweep of the fenders accentuated by elegant and swoopy chromed spears, the sophisticated rounded curvature of the trunk, and the classic chromed windshield surround all combine to create a feeling of subtle splendor, held in check by the inherent good taste exercised by Alphonse Guilloré. In addition, this is a highly original numbers matching Delahaye chassis with the powerful three-carburetor option, allied to an original interior that has been gently freshened so that its delicate patina has not been lost. This Cabriolet Atlas by Guilloré is a rare and refined machine that will be welcomed at major concours events around the world.