What do you get when you put Jude Law, Giancarlo Giannini, Zhao Wei and a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue in a film with a stunning classic car? A masterpiece. While two Oscar nominated actors and the sensation of the Chinese cinema may be the draw, the real star of “The Gentleman’s Wager II” is the Delahaye 135S.
Making its debut in 1935, the Type 135 special was a short-wheelbase version of the 135, which had a 160 horsepower, 3.5 liter straight-six engine with three Solex carburetors. The Type 135 Special also boasted additional engine-block cooling passages, a lighter and better-balanced crankshaft that was capable of higher rpms, an 8.4:1 compression ratio cylinder head, a modified valve gear, and a high-lift cam. It also had six exhaust ports with individual exhaust header pipes.
Delahaye engineer Jean François created a new chassis for the 135S specifically to handle the more powerful engine. The chassis was a particularly advanced for its time, with boxed rectangular rails, a central cross-member and a welded-in floor. This design gave the car exceptional stiffness and rigidity. The independent front suspension used its transverse leaf spring as the lower control arm. With this power and handling, it was good enough to challenge Bugatti Type 57, finishing second at the 24-hours of Spa, Le Mans and other endurance events.
The car featured in the film is one of only sixteen Delahaye 135 S Competition models that were built specially for racing by the factory and selected clients. And while it’s not exactly priceless, one recently sold at a Sotheby’s auction in Paris for $1,700,000.