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The Delahaye Saoutchik Roadster - is this the world's most beautiful car?


August 5, 2010

The Delahaye 175 S Saoutchik Roadster Photo: Ron Kimball/Kimball Stock

The Delahaye 175 S Saoutchik Roadster Photo: Ron Kimball/Kimball Stock

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Held each year since 1950, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is now the centerpiece of a week-long collector car festival in Monterey each August, and in addition to becoming the world’s foremost classic car event, it is increasingly being preferred by prestige manufacturers as the launch platform for new and concept vehicles. This year the car regarded by some as the most beautiful collector car in the world is to go under the auctioneer’s hammer. The work of prodigiously talented automotive stylist and coachbuilder Jacques Saoutchik, this 1949 Delahaye 175 S Roadster is expected to fetch around US$6 million.

Saoutchik was a cabinet maker when he moved to Paris from his home in Ukraine around 1900, but he didn’t take long to establish himself in the fledgling automotive coachbuilding industry and he showed a consistent flair over the next 50 years which puts him among the very elite of automotive designers.

His designs borrowed little from other designers, and along with names such as Figoni et Falaschi, Chapron, Franay and de Letourner et Marchand, Saoutchik was one of the foremost designers of exquisite Art Deco coachwork during the 20s and 30s.

Some of Saoutchik’s best work can be seen at Coachbuild and also at Supercars.

Saoutchik was commissioned to produce the spectacular work-of-art by flamboyant English collector, Sir John Gaul. The design was based on the first post-war Delahaye chassis from a 175 S Roadster (chassis number 815023) producing 165 bhp from an engine much larger than the pre-war Delahayes ran – a 4,455 cc naturally aspirated overhead valve inline six cylinder engine with four-speed electro-mechanically actuated Cotal Preselector gearbox, Dubonnet coil spring front suspension, De Dion rear axle with semi-elliptic springs, and four-wheel hydraulic finned alloy drum brakes. The wheelbase was a whopping 116 inches.

The car was unveiled sixty one years ago at the 1949 Paris Auto Show, and was exhibited at all the major European concours events that year, from Paris to Monte Carlo to San Remo, scooping the pool wherever it was exhibited. Indeed, whilst it will undoubtedly be the star of the auction this year at the Pebble Beach event, it won best-in-class in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2006 just a few months after a complete restoration. Just a few months later, the car was honored again, winning People’s Choice at the prestigious Amelia Island Concours d’ Elegance.

Having fulfilled its exhibition duties, it then passed through a succession of other flamboyant owners, including actress Diana Dors.

The final word on this stunning automobile goes to Ian Kelleher, President and Chief Operating Officer, RM Auctions

“Following the financial depression of World War II, there were few collectors with the means, flamboyance and flair to commission a car as exotic as this Saoutchik Roadster. Arguably the most desirable post-war, coachbuilt automobile of all time, it is truly a masterpiece of the coachbuilder’s art. Eye-catching and exotic, it is wonderful to drive and combines superlative styling on a chassis of competition quality.”

The 1949 Delahaye 175 S Saoutchik Roadster will be auctioned at RM Auctions’ ‘Sports & Classics of Monterey’ event on August 13-14.

And if the anticipated price of somewhere between US$4 million and US$6 million is a bit steep for you, there are replica cars available at approximately US$500,000 from Delahaye USA.

Photo Credits: Ron Kimball/Kimball Stock ©2010 Courtesy of RM Auctions / ARCHIVE/ COLLECTION JEAN PIERRE / Darin Schnabel ©2010 Courtesy of RM Auctions


beautiful, If you like over the top ( like Diana Dors ! )not my cup of tea but if you like brassy and flashy ok,


I still love the Talbot Lago 1938 Talbot-Lago T150-C better:



It needs to be RED, blue is like so beige, must be why my URQ Audi quattro is black and my other Audi Avant, is umm, well just as shiny as the black URQ, the Avant is bitchin\' RED, Bestust, Bill

Bill Bennett

I believe the Pebble Beach Concours de Elegance was cancelled in 2010. Economy or pollution/ecological problems may be the reason.

Chris Jordan

Regarding the Pebble Beach Concours, see http://www.pebblebeachconcours.net/pages/3005/Calendar.htm


4-6 mill$$???? perhaps I should not have left the french girl who had one back in Paris!!! ah that was so many miles ago...I prefer the hardtops for classic lines, but that\'s a matter of pref, \"non degustubus\", as they say. Oh, the article does not mention, but the lost lady did mention that the body is remarkable heavier steel that most other autos. Very resisstant to the dings and bumps or a life on the road.


You know, it\'s events like Barrett Jackson and Pebble Beach Concours de Elegance that have ruined the classic car industry! It\'s gotten to the point where the average person cannot afford to own a classic Camaro, or Mustang! Try and find a 70 Convertible \'Cuda that you can afford...it\'s not possible! It\'s even gotten to the point where car restorers are restoring Pintos and Chevettes because even Maverics and Opels have been priced out of the reach of the common man! Heck, I wanted to get my wife a nice classic Mustang...a 72 Grande Convertible...it\'s cheaper to get her a new one!


Enclosed wheel wells and keener aerodynamics are the way of the future, inevitably. We cannot continue to ignore the incredible waste that our rectangular open-wheel well tastes inflict on the American economy. This is a big, heavy car, but it probably gets decent gas mileage. If all our cars were aerodynamic, America would be a net exporter of oil.


Very nice. Imagine driving down the street in THAT! Can\'t get Roger Rabbit out of my head now though. 8^)


It\'s nice but far from being the best looking car in my own opinion( which is worth jack anyway)!

Denis Klanac

OMG what an ugly whore.An oddity at best.6 oogas for this thing?Mcluhan would be ears up.THe media certainly is the message here.

Cowfy Kaufman

Bleurgh! Looks like a classic dusenberg, bugatti and MG were chewed up and spat out.


Very cool looking. How many gallons per mile?


Pretty, but it looks as if it couldn\'t turn a corner.


what a beauty,also as Diana Dors!!!good old times.

Danny Vanderbeke

DITTO - loaddown !!!! I whizz on the Delahaye Saoutchik Roadster. The first problem is : Roadster, drive it in the rain, like thunderstorms too? Would you want to park it? Lots of replicas being made of it, because it's so desirable? It's a 3D freaking cartoon, not a car. Here is a far far better looking car & and you can buy a new one, now! http://tlccar.com/ Stupid transparent plastic steering wheel, Saoutchik, bah humbug.

Dave B13

You HAVE to have good taste to appreciate the Delahaye and you need a decent bank balance to own and drive one. Surprisingly for such a large car, the handling was quite good, remember this is a 1940's car, pre-war auto-technology wasn't that hot. I could shift ass too, a straight push-rod six 4.5 litre at close to 200 gee-gee's saw to that. Baby blue is not the nicest colour, but it was Diana Dors favourite. Maroons, creams or rich blues or greens would suit this style better. Who'd have thought that the French could build a car this good?

Martin Hall
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