Model history: For many manufacturers, the quickest way to resume production after the War was to dust off existing designs. Re-introducing the Type 135 with limited modifications in 1946, Delahaye was no exception. It was, however, quickly followed by the Type 175, which was aimed directly at the high performance Talbot Lago T26. Launched at the Paris show in the fall of 1948, the Type 175 featured a brand new chassis and engine.
Matching the Talbot Lago in size, the Type 175 sported a straight six cylinder engine with a displacement of just under 4.5 litre. The actual design of the two engines did differ considerably. Slightly simpler in construction, the Delahaye 'six' used a single side-mounted camshaft, actuating the overhead valves by push-rods. What set it apart from earlier Delahaye six-cylinder engine was the use of a seven-bearing crankshaft. It was available with a single or triple Solex carburettors (175 S). Depending on the compression ratio, it was good for between 125 - 165 bhp.
Conventional in design, the 175 ladder frame was Delahaye's first chassis also available with left hand drive. New for the Type 175 was independent suspension all-round. At the front it featured Dubonnet type suspension, while at the rear a DeDion axle was fitted with drive-shafts running through the sides of the frame. Standard issue on all French luxury cars of the period, the gearbox was a Cotal supplied electromechanical unit, operated by a small lever behind the steering wheel. The brakes featured finned alloy drums and were operated by hydraulics rather than cables.
As was customary, the Delahaye 175 was offered as a rolling chassis only. A choice of coach-builders was available for the customer to pick from. The most prolific among them was Paris-based Saoutchik. The Ukrainian-born Jacques Saoutchik fitted some of his finest designs on the Delahaye 175 chassis. The most extravagant was a Roadster first shown at the Paris Salon in 1949. Slightly more reserved customers, would probably find the subtler creations of Chapron and Figoni & Falaschi more to their liking.
Joining the 175 in the Delahaye line-up were the types 178 and 180, which were similar in design with the exception of longer wheelbases. None of the three 4.5 litre cars proved to be big seller and by the end of production less than 100 examples were produced. The 'short wheelbase' 175 was the most popular with a total production run of 51 chassis, including 10 with left hand drive. Delahaye opted not to replace the big car and continued solely with the 235, which followed in the smaller 135's foot steps.
Along with the Talbot Lago T26, the Delahaye 175 remains as one of the last great French luxury cars, which had their greatest moment of glory in the 1930s. Rapid developments in the automotive industry had brought an end to the custom era and manufacturers and coach-builders closed their doors in quick succession. While not a success on the showroom floor, the 175 did provide Delahaye with one of its last major results when a slightly tweaked example won the 1951 Monte Carlo rally.
Built for the 1949 Paris Motor Show, this Delahaye 175 must be one of Saoutchik's most exuberant creations. The details of this design are what stand out with the removable roof panel and the 14-karat gold fixtures in the interior as some of the car's prominent features. Following its motor show duties, the unique Delahaye was sold to the United States where it has been part of some of the country's most prominent collections like the Harrah and the Nethercutt. Now owned by the Blackhawk Museum, the spectacular machine is seen here during the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, where it was part of a special Saoutchik class.