Having established his coachbuilding business in 1919 in Paris, Henri Chapron designed bodies for some of France's most elegant vehicles. From the 1920s through the 1940s, his creations clothed chassis from Talbot, Delage, Delahaye and others of their ilk. But when in the 1950s the need for coachbuilt luxury cars started to dry up, Chapron found a novel way of diversifying, turning his attention to the trailblazing new Citroen DS.
He started out in 1958 with the La Croisette Cabriolet, made without Citroen's approval, meaning that he had to buy complete cars from the factory, then convert them. Demand was high, however, and Citroen asked Chapron to come up with a cabriolet based more closely on the designs proposed by the DS's designer Flaminio Bertoni. This became the famous Decapotable, made by Chapron, but sold officially through the Citroen dealer network from 1960.
A 1:1 scale Citroen Le Dandy
Chapron didn't stop there with his special-bodied DSs, however. Alongside the La Croisette, he had come out with a hardtop coupe dubbed Le Paris, and in 1960 came out with another cabriolet/coupe double take on the DS, the Le Caddy and the Le Dandy. These continued in production throughout the sixties - the first cars having sloping rear decks that looked similar to that on the regular DS, but which was restyled in 1965 to give the cars a more angular rear appearance.
The Corgi LeDandy appeared as number 259 in the range in 1966 and remained on sale until 1969. Available most commonly in metallic maroon with yellow interior, it was also sold in a two-tone version, with metallic blue lower body and a white roof and rear deck and white interior. The model featured an opening bootlid and doors, tilting seats and plastic door insert trim panels. It also had jewelled headlamps and fog-lamps, wire wheels (as fitted to many of the full-size cars) and plastic leaf suspension. And rather than just dubbing it the Citroen Le Dandy Coupe, Corgi really went to town on the naming - both the base and the box proclaim it to be the "Le Dandy Coupe - Henri Chapron Body on Citroen DS Chassis" which takes up much of the space on the baseplate!
The chromed plastic fog-lamps are extremely fragile, and the model is often found with one or both of these missing or damaged. The suspension can also collapse and the model is somewhat prone to developing cracks at the base of the A-pillars. Metallic maroon cars are easier to find than the two-tone version, but the blue and white car doesn't seem to command too much of a price premium. The model is pretty easy to find, but harder to find unboxed with the fog-lights intact.
Chapron built various other DS-based cars, including the Concorde coupe, Majesty and Lorraine four-door limousines, the angular Le Leman coupe and the Palm Beach Decapotable, as well as the DS Presidential car, created in 1968 for Charles De Gaulle which was modelled by Dinky France. His "standard" DS Decapotable continued in production until 1971 and he went on to create bespoke cars based on the SM coupe, including the Mylord convertible and the Opera four-door saloon as well as two four-door convertibles for government use.
Chapron died in 1978 aged 92, but his company continued on under the direction of his wife, with its final products including luxury versions of the DS' successor, the Citroen CX before closing in 1985.
You can find the Corgi LeDandy on ToyPedia here.