Delahaye was a French luxury automobile manufacturer that was active from 1894 to 1954. The company was founded by Émile Delahaye, who began building automobiles in 1894. Delahaye cars were known for their quality and craftsmanship and were often used in competition. The company produced a range of vehicles, including touring cars, sports cars, and trucks. Delahaye also built a number of specialized vehicles, such as fire trucks and buses.

Throughout its history, Delahaye worked with a number of notable designers and engineers, including Jean François and Charles Weiffenbach.

By the end of the Nineteenth century Emile Delahaye, despite being a young man, began to suffer from health problems.

These problems may well have been aggravated by his awareness  that his company was in urgent need of an infusion of working capital, to invest in better equipment and an increase in floor space for his plant on the outskirts of Paris.

Delahaye found the answer to all of his problems in the form of two venture capitalists of the times in Leon Desmarais and Georges Morane, who just happened to be his brothers-in-law.

Unfortunately, the  release from financial pressure came too late for Delahaye and he passed away in 1905, just 62.

Desmarais and Morane as well as Delahaye’s descendants continued to run the company till the mid Fifties.

Delahaye made a number of technical innovations in its early years; and, after establishing a racing department in 1932, the company sprang to particular prominence in France in the mid-to-late Thirties, with its Type 138, Type 135SC, and type 145 cars winning numerous races, and setting records on the international stage.

By the mid-Thirties,  Delahaye  cars had taken first place  at eighteen minor French sports car events even taking a commendable fifth at Le Mans

In 1936, Delahaye’s success continued at the track while demand for their production vehicles was on the increase, allowing them to  another   French car manufacturer,  Delage.

In 1937, a  Delahaye  driven by René Le Bogue and Julio Quinlan won the Monte Carlo Rally with another Delahaye also taking the first and second place at Le Mans that same year- a remarkable achievement, considering they were competing against   cars from Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz,  who were sponsored by the German government.  

In 1938 Dreyfus also scored a victory for Delahaye in the Ecurie Bleu Type 145 at in the gruelling conditions of the Pyrenees Mountain range, again defeating a more powerful Mercedes-Benz W154. The Delahaye Type 145, driven by René Dreyfus was powered by a complicated 4+1⁄2-litre V12 engine, completed the 120 mile (200 km) (120 mi) event at an average speed 91.00 mph (1476.56 km/h),

These and other notable victories placed Delahaye in a pinnacle position both on the racing circuit as well as on the domestic market.

Sadly that golden period was soon to end with the German occupation of France in early 1940.

The French government, obviously and rightly fearing the worst, decreed that all domestic automobile production to be wound down well before the war broke out. A few models were produced on behalf of the occupying forces during the early war years.

When peace came in 1945, the French economy, as well as all Western Europe was in an extremely depressed situation.

To get things started, Delahaye resumed production of the Type 135 and 148L, both of which were considered to be particularly outdated. Plans were in place to release a new model, the Type 175 as well as larger and longer wheel-based versions of the 175 were far away from going into production.

Delahaye’s optimism for a successful transition into the post-war years were rapidly dampened in 1947. Those in charge of France’s recovery and reconstruction program insisted that the majority of vehicles produced went for export to earn valuable foreign currency.

To make sure that it happened, the Government introduced punitive tax controls on what was considered luxury items, including vehicles powered by engines larger than two litres (120 cu in).

In 1947, close to 90% of Delahaye total output production went overseas, primarily to Asia and Africa. The following year , with export sales limited, demand for Delahaye vehicles hit rock bottom.

What was hoped to represent the new face of the post-war Delahaye, the 175, was styled in-house by industrial designer Philippe Charbonneaux.

The Type 175 was considered to be at the cutting edge in terms of technological and design development when designed in 1938,. However the management team at Delahaye were soon to discover that when introduced ten years later, it was lagging sadly behind.

When eventually launched, major design faults rapidly began to emerge, so severe that Delahaye had no option but to recall a number of its vehicles to avoid litigation.

The Type 175 and its long-wheeled drive versions the 178 and 180 models were unable to generate enough sales to recover development and production costs.

Production was discontinued by mid-1951, less than three years after its launch.

Tottering on the brink of closure, Delahaye merged with Hotchkiss in 1954, and the combined company continued to produce automobiles until 1967. Today, Delahaye cars are highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts for their unique style and performance.

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