Minichamps MIN107115130 1939 Delage D8 120 Cabriolet - New York World's Fair, Chassis # 51760, Two Tone Deep Red Top Up Carrosserie Henri Chapron (1:18 Scale)
"For me, French automobiles of the 1920s and 1930s represent the pinnacle of 20th Century art and design - the artistic realization in steel, leather, and glass of a modern idea created at a moment when hand craftsmanship embraced the machine, and a spirit of optimism fueled an explosion in artistic and technical development. As an avid collector, the preservation of these rolling sculptures for the enjoyment and a pleasure. I relish the stewardship and preservation of their exciting histories."
- Peter W. Mullin, Mullin Automotive Museum
This Delage was delivered by Henri Chapron on June 21, 1939. It was from the second series of the model, and as such had a lower and lighter chassis than its predecessor. The ending of the Type D8-120 series had aluminum pistons with four rings, steel connecting rods, and overhead valves. The car possessed a single two-barrel downdraft carburetor and Cotal electric planetary transmission.
Its early history was colorful, as it was reportedly appropriated by a French general of the Vichy government who was a German collaborator. In 1946, after the wars end, the general sent the car to California but was unable to obtain a visa for himself, so he went to Argentina and sold the car to RKO Studios.
In Hollywood, the cars styling earned it roles in feature films, including the 1951 classic An American in Paris. The producers commissioned changes to the cars design, including taillight modifications and a new green pain job. Chapron himself was involved in the alterations. The film showed Gene Kelly being chauffeured around the City of Lights in the Delage with actress Nina Foch.
When the movie was completed, the car was returned to Los Angeles. In 1955 it was acquired by Thol Si Simonson, a member of the RKO Studios production team who took the car in lieu of the $15,000 severance pay he was owed by RKO. Si sold the Delage through auction in 1987, where it was purchased by Peter Mullin.
Pictured here is a 1:18 scale resin replica of a 1939 Delage D8 120 Cabriolet as seen at the New York World's Fair. Finished in Two Tone Deep Red with its Top Up. Carrosserie Henri Chapron.
Length: 12 inches
Width: 4 inches
Release Date: June 2014
Historical Account: "Coachbuilder Extraordinaire" - Henri Chapron (1886, Nouan-le-Fuzelier - 1978, Paris) 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 1920s.
As France ceased building vehicles of this type in the 1950s, Chapron switched his attention to the recently launched Citron 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 "Dcapotable". All told, Chapron created 389 hand-built DS convertibles.
In 1961, the Citron 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 Citron SM was introduced in 1970, Chapron created two new variants - the Mylord convertible (7 made) and the Opra four door sedan (8 made). On February 7th, 2009, a 1974 Opra was sold by Bonhams auctioneers for EUR 194,648 (USD $249,580).
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 Citron CX. It ceased operations in 1985.