Monterey 2024

1949 Delahaye 178 Cabriolet by Chapron


$200,000 - $300,000 USD  | Offered Without Reserve

United States | Monterey, California



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Chassis No.
Engine No.
Body No.
US Title
  • Offered from the Collection of the Petersen Automotive Museum
  • Among France’s finest post-war chassis, with a new large six-cylinder engine
  • The sole surviving 178 with glamorous custom coachwork by the renowned Henri Chapron
  • Exceptionally rare, as one of only seven 178s known to exist; factory left-hand-drive
  • Meadowbrook Concours d’Elegance Best of Show-winning older restoration, in elegant colors
  • A superb coachbuilt Delahaye of great scarcity and beauty
Addendum: Please note that this lot is titled as a 1953.

According to noted Delahaye historian Jean-Paul Tissot, only 38 examples of the Delahaye 178 were produced, of which just seven survive. The car offered here was one of two cabriolets built by Henri Chapron on the 178 chassis, and it is the only extant example. Typical of Chapron’s work, it is beautifully proportioned with subtle lines and numerous distinctive touches, including the louvered hood, a front bumper sculpted around the grille, and, most prominently, a lightly vee’d split windshield, an element uncommon to Chapron designs. It was completed by Chapron on 10 August 1949, as a left-hand-drive chassis equipped with the standard 178 engine, number 820034, and optional Rudge wheels.

Mr. Tissot notes that the car was carrying registration ZG-83-37 and finished in what was believed to be the original livery of gray and red when it was acquired in 1960 by Jack Lappert of Wheeling, West Virginia, from a European seller believed to be in The Netherlands. Information in the file indicates that the car passed from Mr. Lappert to Michael Berry, a prominent early collector in the Detroit area, then to Virginia Frazier and her son Jack of Michigan. It was eventually restored for the Fraziers by RM Auto Restoration in the mid-1990s and appeared shortly after at the 1997 Meadowbrook Concours d’Elegance. Meadowbrook would prove a pivotal venue in the car’s history when it returned in 2000 and was judged Best in Show – European, which at the time was considered one of the most prestigious honors in vintage automobile collecting.

After celebrating its well-deserved accolades, the Fraziers sold the Delahaye to automotive publishing magnate Robert E. Petersen in the autumn of 2000; it was later lightly freshened, including having Tony Castellano apply cream accents to the body and fenders, an appropriate and correct Chapron two-tone treatment as the car had worn when new. The restoration appears still quite attractive throughout, and with the 178 engine—of the same displacement as the famous Delahaye V-12 of the late 1930s—it would be a thrilling grand tourer for events all over the country.

For the connoisseur of French coachwork, this exceptionally rare automobile, the only surviving Chapron cabriolet on the scarce Delahaye 178 chassis, is not to be missed.