1959 Renault FrégateChapron
Year of manufacture1959
Car typeConvertible / Roadster
Number of seats4
French registration papers
- The only survivor of the three Chapron convertible cars with straight wings
- High quality restoration
- Known history
The first presentation of the Frigate dates back to the end of 1950. Renault finally exhibited it at the Motor Show in October 1951 and then began marketing it at the end of the year. Its lines are more taut than those of its contemporary 4 hp and the rear fenders remain superbly sculpted in relief. The 1996 cm3 4-cylinder engine finally reaches modernity with an overhead valve cylinder head. Reliable but not really a war lightning bolt, it develops 65 hp and is enough to move the big sedan, the brand's new flagship with a diamond shape. Renault soon considered extrapolating to a convertible and called on his privileged bodybuilder in Italy, Ghia, who designed a prototype called "Ondine" whose line was strangely similar to the Karmann Ghia VW of the same period. The automotive press of the time was unanimous: the greatest French bodybuilders had to look into the case of the new sedan. Pichon-Parat was the first to build a two-door convertible Frégate in 1952. The greatest names such as Letourneur and Marchand, Mignot and Henri Chapron followed. It is the latter that interests us in its pages. The bodybuilder on Aristide Briand Street in Levallois was interested in the case of the Frigate for transformations into a two-door coach and then a convertible from 1956 to 1959. It will be made of 7 of three different types: The first version based on a sedan with standard rear fenders, of which two models will be manufactured. The second version with round rear wings with horizontal fins, which will leave the workshops in February 1957 and go to the Belgian Congo, will be a unique version. The third study with straight rear fenders will be manufactured in triplicate. The first was ordered by Mr. Marquet and bears the Chapron number 7323. The second was ordered in May 1958 by Mr. Girard (unknown number) and the third and last by Mr. de Grandchamps in June 1959 with the number Chapron 7353.
It is this last copy that is presented in these pages. According to the car's history, it is the only survivor of the three Chapron convertibles built between 1958 and 1959 with the famous right wings. A handwritten letter from Mrs Chapron certifies that this car is indeed the one ordered by Mr de Grandchamps on 12 June 1959 when he was CEO of the large Paul Bert garages located on Avenue Gambetta in Auxerre. This Frigate is the last one built by Chapron, because from August 1959 the workshop will be fully dedicated to Citroën DS and ID convertibles. According to historian Dominique Pagneux, this car was bought by Mr. Girard in the 1980s and also thinks it is the only survivor of this small series. The car is then burgundy red and is equipped with the semi-automatic Transfluide gearbox. This car appears in the book "Les cabriolets Français, Le grand livre" by Olivier de Serres published by EPA in 1995, page 165. It was then registered as 75 XX 77. The Frigate was kept for several decades by Mr. Girard, then Mr. R. acquired it in 2003. He decides to embark on a total restoration, without limits. For a year the car passes into the hands of great specialists. All the mechanics have been restored by the Arcam workshop (38). Thus, the gearbox, the running gears, the Robergel spoke wheels, the electricity and the chrome parts are redone in accordance with the rules of the art and in accordance with the origin and rigour of Chapron's work. The bodywork is then entrusted to the Faure garage in Allex (26). The base being very sound, no welding was necessary to restore the bodywork. The choice of paint is made on a magnificent biton colour dark green-light green metallic green which corresponds to a shade that Chapron offered on these cars. The result at the end of 2008 was sublime. The Frigate is also on display at the Epoqu'auto collection car show in Lyon in November of the same year. An expert report dated 2019 brings the Renault's value to €180,000. Since its restoration, Mr. R. has used it regularly and not without pride for walks sometimes on the National Road 7. That's where we'll try this very special Frigate. The car behaves very well and the mechanics have no problem moving the Chapron at a very respectable pace. We start dreaming at the wheel, continuing on the N7, the "holiday road" to Menton, under an August sun with our hair in the wind.
This car will be sold by auction by AGUTTES Auction House, in Lyon, France, on November the 9th, 2019.
The digital catalog will is available on our website
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