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Home/News and Feature Articles/Car History - Car Stories/ **Boyd Coddington's Garage/

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The embodiment of style - the Boyd Coddington French Connection.

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Typical of Boyd's work - the car seems to be in motion no matter what image is shown

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1939 "French Connection" by Boyd Coddington
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By Society Staff – reprint with permission only

Mechanical Engineer Emile Delahaye started his company DELAHAYE GFA in 1879 in Tours, France. Soon he began making four-stroke internal combustion engines. By 1894 he had built his first car, surprisingly when he was 51 years old.

Born almost a century after Delahaye, my dad was exploring similar passions, but unlike Delahaye, he was allowed more time to express his gift of vision in search of the perfect hot rod. With his passing, my dad left deep and lasting impressions on many generations who know of his work. We hope, through this type of documentation, that future generations will come to know and appreciate his work as well.

The "French Connection" was the last fully hand formed metal body hot rod built by my dad. This project was built for long-time customer and family friend Rocky Walker.

The inspiration behind this creation started several years before, when we constructed the 1939 Lincoln Zephyr or, the "Led Zephyr" as it was called. The Led Zephyr was the start of the next chapter of hot rods my dad wanted to build.

I remember a conversation we had where he said, "Jr., I'm tired of looking at the same old thing, it's time to take this to the next level". What he meant by the "next level" was the larger, or full-fender cars. With that, the renderings started to fly. Between Todd Emmons, Eric Brockmeyer and Chris Ito, we had them drawing everything Packard's to Auburns.

Through those renderings came the all steel and hand-fabricated 1936 Delahaye or what came to be known as the "WhattheHaye". It was based on the French-designed Delahaye of the 30’s. The "French Connection" was patterned after a few of  the pre- and post-war Delahayes, principally the 1939 Type 165 and the 1949 Type 175S. For their time, these cars were dramatic extrapolations of the full-fender look. In the car we constructed, we felt that we captured the essence of what Mr. Delahaye's designers were trying to accomplish - and we added touches from the 21st Century.

Here are the key specs for the "French Connection:

  • Hand formed metal one-off body by Marcel and Sons
  • Painted Boyd Red and Boyd Black using Dupont Hot Hues paint system
  • Pinstriped by Dennis Ricklefs
  • Art Morrison Chassis
  • Independent front suspension
  • Ford 9” rear end with 4-link suspension
  • Custom 8pt chrome moly rollcage hidden behind interior
  • Hand fabricated grille
  • Hand fabricated moldings
  • One-off Boyd Coddington Wheels
  • Custom gauges
  • BTM Marine Offshore 12.8 Liter V-12 engine, made in Italy, 781 cubic inches
  • Hand fabricated fuel injection system with 12 weber carbs
  • Turbo 400 automatic transmission

My dad set a standard for his workmanship, creativity, and thinking from which he never deviated.  He strived to personalize each hot rod to be different without being odd. The flawless metalwork and paint were a given. When he saw a line in the body that didn't suit his overall vision, there was no hesitation, and that line was changed.  The "French Connection" reflects the awesome standards and the creative thinking of my dad.

He was very happy with the final outcome of this build and as always, proud of the team at Boyd Coddingtonâ„¢ Garage that made it happen.


The influence of the true Delahayes is apparent the pre-war 165S (top) and the post-war 175S as shown here.

This front view truly captures how near to the Delahayes the car came.

From any angle, the car shows off its sexy lines.

This real life shot shows how true to the renderings the final car was.

The hand formed grille hints at the Delahaye

The interior, on the other hand looks quite modern, except for the instruments. The arrow in the inset points to the "Boyd Coddington" inlays in the door sill - another "back in the day" touch.

the BTM Marine Offshore 12.8 Liter V-12 engine also reminds of the powerplants of yore.

Many pre-war luxury cars came with personalized luggage, and the "WhattheHaye" is no exception.

Other full fendered projects/concepts were detailed in the Coddington shop.