Delahaye was founded by Émile Delahaye in 1894, in Tours, France.
Their first cars were belt-driven, with single – or twin-cylinder engines mounted at the rear. The Type 1 was an instant success when introduced.
In 1935 Delahaye bought Delage, a struggling French luxury automobile and racecar company.
The Delahaye 135 (1935-1954) was produced in many different body styles. A sporting tourer, also known as “Coupe des Alpes” after its success in the Alpine Rally, was very popular for racing. Competition 135s set the all-time record at the Ulster Tourist Trophy, placed second and third in the Mille Miglia in 1936, and won the Monte Carlo rally in 1937 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1938.
The all-new Type 175 (and the closely related longer wheelbased Type 178 and 180), introduced in 1946 proved unsuccessful and were taken out of production in 1951.
In 1951 Delahaye build the 235 in an attempt at updating the pre-war Type 135 for the 1950s. It was built in conjunction with French designer Philippe Charbonneaux with a new front grill that represented Delhaye’s distributor Generale Française Automobile (GFA).
The 235 appeared too late to have much effect on Delahaye’s fortunes, still relying on 1930s technology, in spite of its stylish and modern appearance. The 235 was extremely expensive, a Chapron-bodied 235 going for twice that of the much faster 1952 Jaguar XK120.
After World War II, the depressed French economy and an increasingly punitive luxury tax made life difficult for luxury auto-makers and Delahaye was taken over and then shut down in 1954 by Hotchkiss, another French automobile producer and Delahaye’s main competitor.
Many great coachbuilders provided bodies for Delahayes, producing beautiful, streamlined, art deco designed cars. One of the most famous being the Saoutchik designed Delahaye 175S roadster owned by Diana Dors.