But one so gripped him that he bought it three times: once as a Cambridge undergraduate, once from Customs & Excise and once sight unseen.
He loved its Art Deco looks, thrilled to its title of Britain’s Fastest Road Car and guided it to an eighth place at Le Mans – the highlight of his competition CV as a driver rather than an entrant.
Delahaye’s 135S of 1935 was emblematic of its recent merger with the more sporty Delage marque – and symptomatic of France’s preference for racing production-based sportscars rather than be crushed by the might of Germany’s Silver Arrows in Grands Prix (although Delahaye’s 145, a 4.5-litre V12, when driven by the dapper René Dreyfus, would embarrass the brand new Mercedes-Benz W154 shared by Rudi Caracciola and Hermann Lang at the 1938 Pau GP).
The 135’s humbler 3.6-litre pushrod straight-six was sufficient to propel its 18cwt to 130mph and so mix it with homegrown rivals Bugatti and Talbot.
One of the original batch was registered in Britain – and DUV 870’s first owner Tom Clarke raced it in the 1936 RAC Tourist Trophy, the last run at Ards, Northern Ireland: it held briefly the fastest lap before retiring because of ignition woes.
By the time Walker spotted it in a Park Lane showroom, it had been raced by Prince Bira, who co-drove it to victory alongside Riley expert Hector Dobbs in a 12-hour race at Donington Park in 1937, and also by noted ERA driver Arthur Dobson.
Infatuated, Walker purchased this his first competition machine on Higher Purchase – its £400 tag being £60 beyond his annual allowance – and used it in national sprints, hill climbs and minor races.