There is a point when a car is so wonderful it is no longer just a car. Its beauty may transform it into sculpture. Its power may make it a racing icon or its ownership may make it a historical artifact. This car is arguably one of the most beautiful in the World. We found it on display at the Mullin Automotive Museum. The French designed and built some marvelous Art Deco cars in the 30s and this is one of their best.
This car was built to represent France at the 1939 New York Worlds Fair. It was to be powered by a V-12 184 BHP @ 4,000 RPM engine but problems developed and the engine was not able to be installed for the Fair. Before the Fair ended in 1940 World War 2 broke out and the US Customs impounded the car before it could be shipped back to France. At the end of the War in 1946 it was sold at auction and was purchased by Beverly Hills car dealer Roger Barlow.
Barlow took it back to CA where he had a large powerful Cadillac engine installed and sold it for $12,000. The car then passed through the hands of a couple more owners over the years before being “assumed” by a garage in Fresno where it had been abandoned. In 1970 it was purchased by tow truck driver Al Brower for $1,200. I wish photos were available of it at this condition in its life.
In 1985 after 4 years of negotiations with the seller, Jim Huil and Peter Mullin purchased the Delahay and began its restoration. The original V-12 was located and installed in its proper home.
The restoration is breathtaking and the curves of this beauty are nearly impossible not to stare at for long periods of time. It is difficult to even guess at the cost of such an acquisition and restoration we can only be thankful that men of means like Peter Mullin do such things and then allow us humble gearheads and opportunity to set eyes on them.