The good folk at Pebble Beach pass out a little pocket sized guide of the cars shown at Pebble Beach and it is an invaluable guide for fellow Carnuts to learn about the entries.
Almost all the text on this post is courtesy of the good people at the Pebble Beach Concours d Elegance.
This class celebrating the 100th anniversary of Figoni had a number of astounding cars and my favourite is the little Alfa of West Vancouver’s Dave Cohen. Some of these cars below raced at the Monte Carlo rally, Le Mans, 12 Hours of Paris in 1938, and one car even raced in North Africa Rallys. The list of owners back in the day is also the who’s who of colourful people!
By Cam Hutchins
E1-02 – 1930 Delage D8 Figoni Cabriolet
Dr. Ravi Prakash, Bangaloe, India
Delage became the mainstay of Figoni coach building from 1928 through 1930. Around 70 Delage D8 Cabriolets were bodied by Figoni, and all except for two were exported to England, including this one. This Delage D8 (chassis 1286) was first owned by Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar II, a great lover of art – particularly Art Deco art from the Classic Era. He purchased the car following its debut at the London Motor Show in 1930. The car remained in the estate of the original owner until 1993, when it was passed in ill-repair to Maharaja Manvendra Singh of Bharwani. Despite various attempts to rejuvenate the Delage, it wasn’t until it was acquired by Dr. Ravi Prakash in 1998 that this Figoni bodied beauty was fully restored.
E1-03 – 1932 Delage D8-100 SS Figoni Convertible Coupe*
Atwell Family, Fredericksburg, Texas
This delightful Delage D8-100 SS demonstrates the evolution of Figoni’s artistry. Built upon the same chassis as the 1930 Delage D8, this rendition exhibits Figoni’s development of sporty, contemporary lines and exquisite detail. The D8- I 00 SS was a special sporting high performance option produced for the English market, with an additional carburetor-three in ll- with a guaranteed top speed of I00 mph, hence the “I00 SS.” This automobile (chassis 36046) was originally delivered to J. Smith & Company in London in September 1932, and was acquired by the current owner in 1966.
E1-04 – 1933 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport Figoni Coupe
David & Adele Cohen, West Vancouver, Canada
Simply exquisite this Alfa Romeo was bodied by Figoni for the 1933 Paris Auto Show. The following year it won both the Nice and Monte Carlo Concours. Considered by marque experts as “a Faberge egg of car design,” This Alfa Romeo (chassis 6CI212I5054) is one of the earliest instances of the evolving slanted coup silhouette that Figoni eventually developed into the celebrated “Goutte d ‘Eau” (teardrop) design. (Figoni himself never used the term “Goutte d ‘Eau”; this was a label created by the media to describe the car’s shape.) In 1935 the Alfa Romeo received a rudimentary open racing body and competed at Le Mans, where it finished 6th overall and won the 2.0-liter class, driven by Guy Don and Jean Desvignes. Now sporting its original attire, the Alfa remains one of Figoni’s most celebrated oeuvres d’art.
El-05 – 1934 Voisin C 27 Figoni Cabriolet
Peter· & Merle Mullin, Oxnard, California
Very few Voisins were coached by Figoni because Gabriel Voisin believed he could create superior coachwork in-house. This Voisin is an exception. For this Voisin (chassis 5200 t ), Figoni created a unique one-off design with a lilthe, sporting profile, unlike the quintessential Voisin styling. The car was showcased at the Madrid Auto Salon in December 1934 and purchased by the Shah of Persia. It passed through various ownerships and was discovered in the 1970s in a barn in France. Jacques Buson purchased the dilapidated Voisin and, with the help of Claude Figoni, Joseph’s son, and Henry Bernard, son of Voisin’s chief designer, the car was restored. In 1991 the Voisin was acquired by Peter Mullin and restored to its original spectacular specification.
E1-06 – 1936 Delahaye 135 Competition Court Figoni et Falaschi Coupe
Danna & Patti Mecum, Geneva Lake, Wisconsin
This car is the last of six specially commissioned coupes completed by Figoni in 1936. Careful examination of the coachwork reveals that this car is a direct descendent of the 1933 Alfa Romeo, as joseph Figoni further developed this styling for what would eventually become the “Goutte d’Eau” (teardrop). Note the distinctive bonnet flanked by Marchal headlights melded into the inner front wings, a signature feature of future Figoni designs. The lightweight body is steel with aluminum bonnet, boot, fenders, and doors, and sits atop the Competition Court (short) chassis (chassis 47242), one of Delahaye’s most exclusive offerings.
E1-07 – 1936 Delahaye 135 Competition Court Figoni et Falaschi Coupe *
Jim Patterson The Patterson Collection, Louisville, Kentucky
This Delahaye was commissioned by M. Jeancart of Paris, a wealthy industrialist and collector of several Talbot-Lagos also by Figoni. Built on the shortened “Competition Court” chassis with a 2.65-meter wheelbase, this car (chassis 46576) features a closed front fender with voluptuous contours that became synonymous with Joseph Figoni, such that he patented the design as “Lees Ailes Figoni,” (the Figoni Fenders). The car was eventually sold to 1930s film star Dolores del Rio. In the 1980s the Delahaye was restored and went on to win First in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours, after which it was whisked away to the Far East. Now it is back and a welcome addition to our Figoni celebration.
E1-08 – 1936 Delahaye 135 CS Competition Figoni et Falascbi
Private Collector, Belgium
This DeIahaye is one of the most original racing automobiles bodied by Figoni. The vast majority of race cars of this era no longer include their original engines and or bodies-if they survived at all. A series of 17 Delahaye 135 CS Competition cars were built, and Figoni crafted this unique body, with a distinctive fin tail and racy hood, “according to specifications for 24 Hours of Le Mans,” as noted on the original build sheet. This car (chassis 46626) was delivered to race driver Louis Villeneuve, and took second in the 12 Hours of Paris in 1938 and fourth and sixth overall at Le Mans in 1938 and 1939. Villeneuve raced his Delahaye extensively until 1949, and thereafter it remained in the hands of meticulous preservationists, including Herve Charbonneaux-son of Philippe Charbonneaux, the postwar Delahaye designer.
E1-09 – 1937 Delahaye 135 Competition Court Figoni eet Falaschi Roadster *
Mark Hyman, St. Louis, Missouri
For the 1936 Paris Auto Salon, Figoni designed a car that would change automobile design parameters forever. Working with Delahaye’s 135 Competition Court 2.65-meter chassis, Figoni incorporated sweeping, fully enveloped fenders, known as “Les Ailes Figoni,” low-mounted headlamps faired into the front wings, and dramatic lines highlighted in bold contrasting colors. Commonly known the the “Geo-Ham Roadster,” for the role illustrator Georges Hamel played in realizing the design, this car took the world by storm. One of just three built on the 135 Competition Court chassis, this car (chassis 48666) sold initially to Mr. Adamek of Czechoslovakia. It survived the war, was found in dilapidated condition in 1997, and was partly restored. Later, with the help of Figoni’s son, Claude, the Delahaye was returned to its original 1937 color, configuration, and splendor, and won Best of Show at the 50th Anniversary of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
E1-10 – 1937 Delahaye 135 MS Figoni et Falaschi Special Roadster
Miles Collier Collection at REVS Institute, Naples, Florida
This 1937 Special Roadster is a close sibling to the Coupe, built on the same Competition Court chassis and exhibiting the same patented and very desirable ” Ailes figoni” special enclosed and highly sculptured figoni fenders. This car (chassis 48563) debuted at the 1937 Paris Auto Show to great acclaim. It featured the high-performance Delahaye triple-carburetor engine, with aluminum coachwork and leather by Hermes. Figoni patented not only the fenders on this Delahaye, but also the ultralight tubular seat, disappearing soft top, and the windscreen that recedes into the body. Following its initial ownership, the Delahaye was returned to Figoni’s atelier to install bumpers and a restyled radiator.
E1-11 – 1937 Talbo Lago T l50 C-SS Figoni et Falaschi Teardrop Coupe
Lee R. Anderson Sr., Naples, Florida
This stunning Talbot-Lago (chassis 90I07) is one of two automobiles built by Figoni with the iconic closed front fenders- and the sole survivor with the original body. Entitled the “Coupe Amerique,” it debuted at the 1937 New York Auto Show–the first time Figoni’s “teardrop” design had been seen Stateside. It was exhibited at the Trocadero Gardens in Paris for the 1938 Concours d’ Elegance Femina, and won the Prix d ‘Excellence for its then-owner, the Princess of Kapurthala, also known as Stella Mudge, a dancehall performer who married the Maharaja of Kapurthala. The Talbot-Lago was sold in 1939 to well-known American collector Tommy Lee through Luigi Chinetti, and was later acquired by Lindley Locke, who kept it for nearly 50 years. lt went to the Nethercutt Collection in 2004 and, following an exacting restoration, won its class at the Pebble Beach Concours in 2005.
E1-12 – 1937 Talboc-LagoT150 C -SS Figoni et Falaschi Teardrop Coupe *
The William E. Connor Family, Hong Kong
This 1937 Talbot-Lago is one of only two cars built by Figoni with this bodywork, and this car (chassis 90 104) is the only survivor. The model was named “Jeancart” after the wealthy French businessman who bought the first Delahaye featuring this ” notchback” styling. Recognized as the supercar of its day, with a racing chassis and 4.0-liter engine, the Talbot-Lago was owned for almost half a century by Dr. Fernand Masquefa, a prominent plantation owner who raced the car in many North African events. In 1992, then-owner Jean-Pierre Schindelholz showed the car at the Louis Vuitton Bagatelle Concours d ‘Elegance, where it was named Best of Show. In 1997, following a 4,000-hour restoration by thee current owner, the car won Most Elegant Closed Car and was named Best of Show at the Pebble Beach Concours.