Chapron-Bodied Delahaye

1940 Delahaye 135MS Roadster Grand Luxe by Chapron

Offered by Osenat | Fontainebleau, France | March 2024

Photo – Osenat

The MS variant of Delahaye’s 135 model line was the sportiest, and production spanned both sides of WWII. It would eventually give way to the 235 of 1951, and that car was really just an updated 135 underneath.

This particular car was delivered to Henri Chapron in mid 1939. The intent was to build the body and display it at the Paris Motor Show, but Germany came calling, so the car was sent to America to be displayed at the 1940 New York World’s Fair. Since they couldn’t take it back to France, it was sold new in the U.S., remaining there until the current owner bought it in 2005.

All 135MS examples were powered by a 3.6-liter inline-six, and this triple-carbureted version made about 145 horsepower when new. It now has an estimate of $325,000-$550,000. More info can be found here.

BMW 327 Coupe

1940 BMW 327 Coupe

Offered by Dorotheum | Salzburg, Austria | October 21, 2023

Photo – Dorotheum

BMW’s 327 was produced between 1937 and 1941 (with a brief return in 1945). It was sort of slotted in the middle of the lineup and could be had in coupe or cabriolet form. The car was sold on the other side of the iron curtain as the EMW 327 through 1955.

Power is provided by a 2.0-liter inline-six that was rated at about 54 horsepower. The car was apparently capable of 78 mph. There was a more high-performance version called the 327/28 also available.

Strangely, convertibles were more popular, with over 1,100 produced. However, only 179 of the coupe version found homes in pre-war Germany. This example was sold new in Berlin and later made its way to Switzerland, where it was restored in the 1980s and 1990s. It now has an estimate of $120,000-$170,000. More info can be found here.

Hanomag 20B

1940 Hanomag Type 20B Fire Truck

Offered by Dorotheum | Vosendorf, Austria | July 2, 2022

Photo – Dorotheum

Like so many others, Hanomag’s roots trace back to a mid 19th-century industrial company. Steam engines, farm equipment, and tractors came before cars, which arrived in the 1920s. During WWII, they became a major player constructing vehicles for the German army, including perhaps their most famous vehicle, this half-track.

The 20B was a four-wheel drive personnel carrier produced between 1937 and 1940. In all, about 1,700 were built. Power is from a 2.0-liter inline-four (there were also Stoewer versions of this car as well as a six-cylinder BMW version). Output was just under 50 horsepower. It’s got a five-speed manual transmission with a crawler first gear.

Production ceased in 1940 because they were too heavy and hard to repair. Stoewer kept building a refined Type 40 version until 1943. Almost none of these still exist. This one was intended to be, and was, bodied as a fire truck by Karmann in 1940. It is impressive that it still exists. The pre-sale estimate is $26,000-$37,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $45,783.

Bombardier B-7

1940 Bombardier B-7 Snowmobile

Offered by Bonhams | Amelia Island, Florida | May 20, 2021

Photo – Bonhams

Joseph-Armand Bombardier invented the snowmobile in the 1930s. This model was the first such creation. It was a hit, and the Bombardier business blossomed and would eventually produce trains, jets, and off-road vehicles.

The B-7 was the first snowmobile. It seated seven passengers, and this one is powered by a 3.6-liter Ford flathead V8 rated at 90 horsepower. It has tracks out back and skis up front. Twelve were sold in the first year – 1937. They moved more than 100 in 1939.

This one spent time on duty at a ski resort before it came to its current museum home. A restoration was performed at some point, and it’s now going under the hammer with an estimate of $30,000-$40,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $67,200.

The Best BMW 335

1940 BMW 335 Four-Door Cabriolet by Autenrieth

For sale at Fantasy Junction | Emeryville, California

Photo – Fantasy Junction

The modern BMW 335 is a six-cylinder car and a member of BMW’s 3-Series lineup. It’s a popular model, but it sits sort of near the bottom of the BMW range. But in 1940 the 335 was as good as it got (unless you hopped up to the sports car-only 328). Introduced in 1939, this model didn’t really get a fair shot with the war about to break out. It was produced into 1941 before passenger car production was halted.

This car is powered by a 90 horsepower, 3.5-liter straight-six (hey look at that, BMW’s model name numbering system used to make sense!). Top speed, dependent on body style, was up to 90 mph. This model could be had as a four-door sedan, two-door cabriolet, or, as you see here, a stately four-door cabriolet.

It seems like Mercedes-Benz (and even Horch to a lesser extent) always gets all of the spotlight when it comes to these Reich-era open-top Autobahn cruisers. Pre-war, BMW rarely enters the conversation unless you’re talking about the 328. Part of the reason is scarcity. Only 415 examples of the 335 were built. Only five four-door cabriolets still exist (of the 40 built by this coachbuilder). Compare that to some of the Mercedes survival numbers and it’s easy to see why the Benzes always show up in films.

This example was restored in 2007 and it still looks fresh. You have to wonder who was in a position to buy such an extravagant car in 1939 and what life it lived during the war. It was brought to the U.S. by a member of the military and it remained here pretty much ever since. This car marked a high point for BMW that they wouldn’t equal for quite some time. It’s currently for sale in California for $495,000. Click here for more info.

International D2

1940 International D2 Pickup

Offered by Mecum | Harrisburg, Pennsylvania | July 21-23, 2016

Photo - Mecum

Photo – Mecum

This gorgeous Art Deco pickup truck hails from the days of International Harvester’s “passenger car” production. While they never actually built cars, they did offer light duty trucks – as opposed to their modern, exclusive focus on large commercial vehicles.

The International D1 series dates back to 1933. The updated, Art Deco D2 came about in 1937 and lasted through the first half of the 1940 model year. The D2 was the ½-ton truck and was available in two wheelbases. This is a short-wheelbase variant (as the LWB version was designated the D2H). It is powered by a 3.5-liter straight-six making 78 horsepower.

This example has been beautifully restored and features a wonderful color combination. It was an AACA award-winner in the late-1990s. While Ford and Chevrolet trucks from this era are ubiquitous, this will turn heads when people realize what it is. It will bring more than it’s original sticker of $620. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold, high bid of $26,500.

Cadillac Town Car

1940 Cadillac Series 75 Town Car by Brunn

For sale at The Auto Collections | Las Vegas, Nevada

Photo - The Auto Collections

Photo – The Auto Collections

The second generation of the Cadillac Series 70 (and its derivatives) was introduced in 1938 and lasted through 1940. This series was Cadillac’s mid-level model in 1940, being flanked on either side by the entry-level Series 40 and the top-of-the-line Sixteen. For 1940, this series included the Series 62, Series 60 Special, Series 72, and Series 75.

The engine in the Series 75 is a 5.7-liter V-8 making 140 horsepower. Cadillac and their in-house coachbuilder Fleetwood offered a bunch of different bodies for the Series 75. But for a wealthy Ohioan, these options were not enough. So he went to The Brunn Company and ordered what was to be the final Brunn Town Car ever produced. The body is all aluminium and almost all custom from Brunn, save for the hood and front fenders.

The car is said to drive splendidly and it has been winning awards for decades. It is all-original and well-preserved and can be yours for $175,000. Click here for more info.

Aston Martin Speed Model

1940 Aston Martin Speed Model Type C

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 14-15, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

This car looks like the grandchild of those early speed trials cars (like the Beast of Turin, the Fiat S76). While the rear is streamlined and racy, it has an abrupt shape at the front and a tall engine compartment. The headlights seem like an afterthought, located in the grille – and perhaps this is the singular feature that gives us this impression. The passenger compartment is just a way to attach a human to an otherwise monstrous machine. I think it can best be described as “chunky.”

But unlike the ridiculous 28-liter engine in the S76, this pre-war Aston uses a 2.0-liter straight-four rated at 125 horsepower. This was a competition car and the first examples were built in 1936. The last were built in 1940 – and this car is believed to be the final Aston Martin sold before the outbreak of WWII.

Of the 23 Speed Models built, only the final eight had the Type C streamlined body. This car has known ownership since new and has been restored in the past five years. When you see one of these in person, it will stand out because it’s rather different from other cars of similar vintage. This one is the prettiest I’ve seen. You can read more here and see more from RM in Monterey here.

Update: Sold: $1,155,000.

Packard Super Eight

1940 Packard Custom Super Eight One-Eighty Convertible Sedan by Darrin

Offered by RM Auctions | Plymouth, Michigan | July 26, 2014

Photo - RM Auctions

Photo – RM Auctions

The Packard 180, as it is sometimes known, is more correctly called a Custom Eight Super One-Eighty. The model was new for 1940 and was Packard’s top-of-the-line offering. The chassis and engine were the same as the One-Sixty, but the One-Eighty was more luxurious. It was essentially a replacement for the ultra-grand Twelve.

The engine is a 5.8-liter straight-eight making 160 horsepower (which was more than Cadillac’s V-8 in 1940). A number of different bodies were offered, but Howard “Dutch” Darrin’s are perhaps the nicest of all Packards produced immediately prior to WWII. This four-door Convertible Sedan is quite a bit rarer than any of its two-door counterparts. It is estimated that less than 20 Convertible Sedans like the one you see here were built and only nine remain.

This car was sold new in Illinois. The restoration was completed in 1994 and the car was soon acquired by Otis Chandler. It now comes from the Richard & Linda Kughn collection with a pre-sale estimate of $225,000-$300,000. It’s incredibly rare and one of the more gorgeous four-door sedans you will ever see. You can see more here and check our more from this sale here.

Update: Sold $236,500.

Humber Hexonaut

1940 Humber Hexonaut GS 6×6 Amphibious Prototype

Offered by Auctions America | Auburn, Indiana | December 8, 2012

Here’s another amphibious vehicle – although it’s much smaller than the Duck above. And it’s much rarer, being the only one in existence as the vehicle never entered production as it was “not fit for duty.” It could hold eight men or 1-ton of supplies and has two engines (of 14 horsepower each) and transmissions – one for each side/set of three wheels. This is also how it turned (operating them at different speeds), as you can see how close the wheels are to the body. Unpopular in 1940, this style would become more popular decades down the road on some ATVs. The estimate is $30,000-$50,000. More info here.

Update: Sold $47,500.