Henri Chapron was a prominent French automobile coachbuilder. His atelier, created in 1919, was located in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret.
Chapron began his career developing custom body designs for French luxury vehicles, like Talbot, Delage and Delahaye, in the 1940s. As France ceased building luxury vehicles of this type in the 1950s, Chapron switched his attention to the then recently launched Citroën DS with its revolutionary aerodynamic design and radical hydraulic suspension.
At first Chapron purchased these vehicles and customised them as one-off conversions. Many of these became unique convertible variants of the DS known as the "Decapotable". All told, Chapron created 389 hand-built DS convertibles. In 1961, the Citroën dealership network began distributing a standard 'usine' (factory) two door convertible. In the years 1961 to 1971, 1,365 of these vehicles were made - they are highly collectible today.
Chapron continued his one-off conversions as well. When the Citroën SM was introduced in 1970, Chapron created two new variants - the Mylord convertible (7 made) and the Opera four door sedan (8 made).
In 1968, Chapron made a special extended DS Presidential model for the government of Charles de Gaulle. Then in 1972, Chapron delivered two SM Presidential models to the government of Georges Pompidou. These gigantic 4 door convertibles were first used for the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to France and continued in use through the inauguration of Jacques Chirac in 1995.
Henri Chapron died in 1978, and the company itself survived for some time under the direction of his widow, producing some luxury versions of the Citroën CX. It ceased operations in 1985.
Henri Chapron is recognised as one of the great masters of the period, his style might a bit less flamboyant as that of Figoni or Saoutchik, but his restrained styling is considered as most beautiful.
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