by Richard Michael Owen
Chapron at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance… During a car week obsessed with auctions and economics, Pebble Beach shared the grace and elegance of Carrossier Henri Chapron.
Located in Levallois-Paris, Chapron was part of the French Art Deco movement along with Figoni et Falaschi, Pourtout, Guilloré, Saoutchik and Franay. Eventually his firm was bought by Delahaye and reached a height of 350 employees.
Pebble Beach celebrated Chapron with 16 cars and two classes. The 1949 Paris show car also made appearance in Class L2 Postwar preservation in unrestored condition and still wearing the Moroccan plates from its first owner.
All the great French coach builders contributed to the Art Deco movement and had their own unique touches. For instance Chapron preffered bevelled edges and raised panels to add drama to his fenders.
Chapron’s masterstroke was aquiring two racing V12 Delahayes and finding customers willing to pay for the best closed coupé coachwork he could build. They are both now part of the Peter Mullin collection one was on display at Pebble.
The takeaway from such a great display of singular design is that credit is due not only to the owner or restorer of such great cars, but also the men and women that created these timeless cars in the first place.