This unique car dates from the transitional 1940s/50s period for Pinin Farina, and demonstrates the strengths of abandoning the constraints of the stock design components of the manufacturer.
Where other coachbuilders elected to build a front aspect that incorporated Delahaye’s own grille, not so Farina, who took the influence, but rolled it into the body to maintain its sleek and vertically aerodynamic front. In this way it is incredibly advanced, and while the nose may be reminiscent of Jaguar’s sedans, it should be noted that it predates them by more than five years.
According to information supplied by the seller, the car is listed in the Catalogue Raisonné for Pinin Farina with number 458 bis, an attribution which nods to the counterpart 458, an Alfa Romeo convertible completed at the same time, and also to body 456, which adorned a Maserati A6 1500.
Showing the car’s nationality, Marchal headlights adorn those fenders with bullseye indicators below them. The hood is a single piece that hinges from the passenger’s side. Like many of the best things, the car’s simplicity is the key to its success. Outside, its lines are uncomplicated and modern, and those are matched in the cabin. The dashboard is a narrow panel, color-coded to the bodywork and with two small instrument clusters on either side of the steering wheel. The compartment is well lit, as its sunroof is transparent.
The car is understood to have been sold new to a Belgian customer; a contemporary image of it is depicted in the Michael Frostick book Pinin Farina — Master Coachbuilder. Despite a slightly confusing caption, it is clearly this one-off example and wears Belgian license plates. It would later pass into Swiss ownership, where it underwent a slow, lengthy restoration that would ultimately be abandoned by its then owner. Recognizing its importance and potential, the incomplete work was picked up by the former custodian and finished. From there, it moved into the major collection from which it is offered today. In this ownership a more thorough restoration was undertaken, by Kfz-Ryschka in Germany, with the bodywork stripped back to bare metal and refinished in the present silver-gray livery that is consistent with how it was originally delivered. At the same time, the car was reupholstered in tan leather and with black carpets, which contrast and complement the interior well.
The car was invited to the world-renowned Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2016. There it completed the Pebble Beach Tour and was displayed on the hallowed 18th fairway alongside others its marque. Offering the potential of future concours display or car tour, this unique Delahaye is deserving of the closest attention.