Villa d'Este

21 May 2011

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Lot 119

1938 Delahaye 135 MS Coupé by Figoni et Falaschi

  • Chassis no. 60112
  • Engine no. 103364

€900.000 - €1.100.000


3,557 cc inline overhead valve six-cylinder engine, Cotal electro-mechanical four-speed gearbox, independent front suspension with transverse leaf spring, live rear axle with quarter elliptic springs, and four-wheel assisted mechanically actuated Bendix drum brakes. Wheelbase: 2,900 mm (114")



- Offered from the Estate of John M. O’Quinn

- Displayed on the Figoni et Falaschi stand at the 1938 Paris Salon

- First appearance since completing concours-quality restoration by marque specialists Atelier Automobiles Anciennes Dominique Tessier

- Restoration overseen by Claude Figoni

- Desirable MS racing engine



French coachbuilders like Figoni et Falaschi, Saoutchik, Guilloré, Chapron, Pourtout and Franay revolutionised luxury automobile designs in the mid-1930s. They were fascinated with aerodynamic theory, revelled in vivid colours and brightwork accents and apparently despised straight lines.



A particular highlight of this French coachbuilt era is Figoni et Falaschi’s introduction of the “Goutte d’Eau” or “teardrop” streamliners that were built on the 135 and 165 V-12 chassis and also as Talbot-Lago T150 SS coupés and cabriolets. Figoni et Falaschi were the most flamboyant and imaginative carrosserie of the 1930s. Joseph Figoni started his own body shop in Paris in 1921, spreading his wings in the early ’30s with commissions for Bugatti, Alfa Romeo, Lancia and other sporting marques. In 1935, he partnered with Ovidio Falaschi, who had both capital and business expertise.



Chassis no. 60112



From 1936 through about 1951, Figoni et Falaschi’s stand at the Paris Salon was a “must see.” Though teardrop cars were made in relatively small numbers, they were so immediately eye-catching that they became instant icons and remain so today.



This particular example of Figoni coachwork was built on Delahaye’s Type 135 chassis, a model that was introduced in 1935 at the Paris Salon and was enthusiastically received. It proved delightful to drive, with light steering, independent front suspension, Cotal electro-magnetic pre-selector gearbox and 14-inch Bendix brakes. The heart of the car was a 3½-litre, three-carburettor, hemi-head, six-cylinder, counterbalanced engine. It produced 160 hp in its most-powerful MS configuration and could power the car to 120 mph.



Provenance



The Delahaye 135 MS teardrop coupé on offer here, chassis 60112, was built for the 1938 Paris Salon, where it shared the Figoni stand with a fabulous Delahaye V-12 model 165 roadster. It is offered today from the esteemed collection of the late John O’Quinn, who purchased the car in 2006.



RM Auctions recently interviewed Mr. Claude Figoni, son of Joseph Figoni and curator of the family Figoni Archives, who supervised the car’s nut-and-bolt, body-off restoration, which was very recently completed by the marque experts Atelier Automobiles Anciennes Dominique Tessier in France. Mr. Tessier worked very closely with Mr. Figoni, who was instrumental in completing the restoration based on personal memories and information in his own records.



As such, Mr. Tessier was able to determine that chassis 60112 was originally finished and displayed in a light ivory colour (paint limitations at the time would have never produced a truly white car), which according to Mr. Figoni was complemented by a deep red leather interior. A copy of a photo in the car’s file shows the car with large inboard headlights, driving lights in the fenders and a handsome, thin V-shaped bumper.



Of particular interest is the grille, which according to Mr. Figoni was finished in the French colours of blue, white and red. Joseph Figoni, an Italian national who emigrated to France years earlier, elected to show his patriotism toward his adoptive homeland of France, particularly during the tumultuous build-up leading to World War II.



It seems likely that 60112 was hidden from occupying forces during World War II, as it was not discovered until 1964, hidden behind a hedge of reeds in La Seyne Sur Mer, a few miles from the Mediterranean port of Toulon in Southern France, and carrying an old Alps-Maritimes Department license plate, 308 M6. According to historian Andre Vaucourt, a dogged 21-year pursuit followed the discovery. Finder Antoine Rafaelli finally managed to buy 60112 in 1985 from Madame Michele Gautier.



Rafaelli registered it again in Alps-Maritimes as 3506 VJ 06. Then he delivered the coupé to the Conforti brothers in Nice for a restoration, which took place between 1986-87. In 1998, the car joined the Rosso Bianco Collection in Aschaffenburg, Germany. The car then resided with two known owners in the U.S. before 2006, when John O’Quinn bought 60112 at Quail Lodge.



Restoration



The aforementioned two-year restoration was a true labour of love, conducted by marque experts with the strictest attention to detail. The car was brought down to its bare chassis before a meticulous rebuild was conducted on the body, chassis, engine, transmission and interior – quite literally every single nut and bolt. From the running gear to the beautifully re-trimmed upholstery, the mechanical and cosmetic results are spectacular. Since the car’s full concours-level restoration, it has never been shown or enjoyed in any events. As it has been restored to perfection, precisely the way it was shown at Paris in 1938, it is a perfect entrant for some of the most important concours events the world over, particularly Pebble Beach and Villa d’Este.



Figoni et Falaschi teardrop coupés seldom come to market and always attract intense interest, wherever they appear. With a combination of intriguing history, flamboyant bodywork and 100-mph performance, 60112’s new owner can anticipate driving both stylishly and swiftly – carrying trophies.



As part of a large private collection, this car has seen limited exercise. RM strongly advises the successful bidder carry out a thorough service before driving the car on the open road.



ITALIANTEXT



Motore 6 cilindri in linea di 3.557 cc a valvole in testa, cambio elettro-meccanico Cotal a quattro marce, sospensione anteriore a ruote indipendenti con balestra trasversale, assale posteriore rigido con balestre semiellittiche, freni a tamburo sulle quattro ruote con attuatore Bendix a comando meccanico. Passo: 2.900 mm (114")



- Dalla successione di John M. O'Quinn

- Esposta nello stand Figoni et Falaschi al Salone dell'Auto di Parigi del 1938

- Alla sua prima uscita dalla fine del restauro da concorso, effettuato dallo specialista della marca Atelier Automobiles Anciennes Dominique Tessier

- Restauro eseguito con la supervisione di Claude Figoni

- Desiderabile motore MS da competizione



A metà degli anni Trenta i carrozzieri francesi come Figoni et Falaschi, Saoutchik, Guilloré, Chapron, Pourtout e Franay rivoluzionarono lo stile delle automobili di lusso. Erano affascinati dalle teorie aerodinamiche, si deliziavano con colori brillanti e sfavillanti cromature e apparentemente disprezzavano le linee tese.



Il momento più luminoso e saliente di questa epopea dei carrozzieri francesi è stata l'introduzione della linea aerodinamica "goutte d'eau" (a goccia d'acqua) da parte di Figoni et Falaschi, che disegnarono carrozzerie coupé e cabriolet per telai Delahaye tipo 135 e 165 V-12 così come per telai Talbot-Lago T150 SS. Figoni et Falaschi furono i più "flamboyant" e fantasiosi carrozzieri degli anni Trenta. Giuseppe (Joseph) Figoni aprì la sua carrozzeria nel 1921 a Parigi e acquistò fama nei primi anni Trenta carrozzando vetture Bugatti, Alfa Romeo, Lancia e di altre marche sportive. Nel 1935 entrò in società Ovidio Falaschi, che aveva sia capitale sia esperienza negli affari.



Il telaio n. 60112



Dal 1936 al 1951 circa, lo stand di Figoni et Falaschi al Salone dell'Auto di Parigi era imperativamente da visitare. Sebbene le "gocce d'acqua" ("goutte d'eau") siano state costruite in relativamente pochi esemplari, erano talmente appariscenti da diventare immediatamente delle icone, così come lo sono ancora oggi.



Questa particolare carrozzeria di Figoni fu costruita su un telaio Tipo 135 Delahaye, un modello presentato al Salone di Parigi del 1935 ed entusiasticamente accolto. Era una vettura molto piacevole da guidare grazie allo sterzo leggero, alle sospensioni anteriori a ruote indipendenti, al cambio elettro-magnetico Cotal con pre-selettore e ai freni Bendix da 14". Il suo cuore era il motore 6 cilindri di 3,5 litri, con tre carburatori e testa emisferica, ben bilanciato, che erogava 160 cv nella più sportiva configurazione MS e che spingeva la vettura ad oltre 190 km/h.

La Delahaye 135 MS "goutte d'eau" coupé offerta, telaio 60112, fu costruita per il Salone di Parigi del 1938, dove divideva lo stand di Figoni con una favolosa Delahaye V-12 modello 165 roadster. La vettura proviene dalla nota collezione del defunto John O’Quinn, che la acquistò nel 2006.



La RM Auctions ha recentemente intervistato Claude Figoni, figlio di Joseph e curatore dell'Archivio di famiglia, che ne ha supervisionato il restauro integrale (partendo dalle lamiere nude), recentemente ultimato dagli esperti della marca dell'Atelier Automobiles Anciennes Dominique Tessier in Francia. Tessier ha lavorato a stretto contatto con Figoni, che è stato fondamentale per perfezionare il restauro sulla base dei suoi ricordi e delle informazioni custodite nel suo archivio.



Grazie a ciò, Tessier ha potuto stabilire che il telaio 60112 era stato originariamente finito ed esposto al Salone in colore avorio chiaro (i limiti delle vernici dell'epoca non avrebbero potuto permettere di avere una vettura bianca al 100%) che, secondo Figoni, era accoppiato ad un interno in pelle rosso scuro. Una copia di una foto presente nell'archivio mostra la vettura con grandi fari di profondità integrati, fanali di posizione nei parafanghi e un sottile paraurti a V.



Particolarmente interessante è la griglia che secondo Figoni era verniciata nei colori blu, bianco e rosso della bandiera francese. Giuseppe (Joseph) Figoni, un italiano emigrato in Francia anni prima, aveva deciso di dimostrare il suo amore per la patria adottiva, la Francia, soprattutto in considerazione dei tumultuosi eventi che stavano portando alla Seconda Guerra Mondiale.



E' probabile che la 60112 sia stata nascosta alle forze di occupazione durante la Seconda Guerra Mondiale e che non sia stata ritrovata che nel 1964, nascosta dietro a un ammasso di canne a La Seyne sur Mer, a pochi chilometri dal porto mediterraneo di Tolone, nel sud della Francia; aveva ancora una vecchia targa del Dipartimento delle Alpi Marittime, 308 M6. Secondo lo storico Andre Vaucourt, aveva portato al suo ritrovamento un'ostinata ricerca durata 21 anni. Lo scopritore, Antoine Rafaelli, riuscì finalmente ad acquistare la 60112 dalla signora Michele Gautier nel 1985.



Rafaelli la reimmatricolò nelle Alpi Marittime con targa 3506 VJ 06 e la affidò ai fratelli Conforti di Nizza per un restauro che fu eseguito fra il 1986 e il 1987. Nel 1998 la vettura entrò nella collezione Rosso Bianco ad Aschaffenburg, in Germania. Essa ebbe poi due proprietari conosciuti negli Stati Uniti prima di essere acquistata da John O'Quinn all'asta del Quail Lodge nel 2006.



Il restauro



Il sopracitato restauro durato due anni fu eseguito con la massima cura da esperti della marca con un'attenzione spasmodica per i dettagli. La vettura fu spogliata completamente fino al telaio prima di iniziare il restauro di carrozzeria, telaio, motore, trasmissione e interni, praticamente ogni dado e bullone è stato restaurato. Sia per la parte meccanica che per la tappezzeria, magnificamente rifatta, i risultati sono spettacolari sia dal punto di vista estetico che meccanico. Dalla fine dei lavori la vettura non è ancora stata esibita ad alcuna manifestazione. Poiché è stata restaurata alla perfezione, così come fu esposta a Parigi nel 1938, è una perfetta concorrente per i più importanti concorsi d'eleganza del mondo, in particolare quelli di Pebble Beach e Villa d’Este.



Raramente i coupé "goutte d'eau" di Figoni et Falaschi arrivano sul mercato e quando questo accade attraggono sempre grande interesse. Grazie all'intrigante storia, alla carrozzeria "flamboyant" e alla possibilità di viaggiare a 160 km/h, il nuovo proprietario della 60112 potrà guidarla sia con stile che con forza, comunque conquistando trofei.



Facente parte di una grande collezione privata, quest'auto e stata usata poco. RM consiglia fortemente all'offerente vincitore di fare una revisione accurata dell'auto prima di guidarla su strada aperta.

Addendum

Please note that this car is eligible for import into the UK at 5% VAT.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

csmyth@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more