Far From The Mainstream: De La Chapelle

One example is for sale here, and it is a scale model: €11,000. It does however, have a 4hp petrol motor. It’s 224 cm long and has never been used. 

2007 De La Chapelle 328 scale replica: Autoscout24.com

None are listed at Mobile.de.

De La Chapelle must be one of the most unusual small-scale constructors. Not content with making five full-size cars in the repro-retro mould, the also make operational cars for children (the BMW roadster shown above). They will also make a car to order, which is what the 328 appears to be, hence the remarkable price. 

The full-size range consists of a Bugatti Type 55 replica, powered by a BMW engine. The Type 55 Tourer has a Morgan-type rag-top. The Bugatti Atlantic inspired the Atalante Type 57 S. The Grand-Prix draws from the 1935 Type 35 which enjoyed quite considerable racing success. And, finally, something of an oddball: since 1999 De La Chapelle have made a more modern roadster, called the Roadster, designed by a chap called Bertrand Barré of Group Zebra. To my mind it looks like a TVR (thanks to the GRP body) but with a lot more finesse.

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The Roadster is available with a 4-cylinder or 6-cylinder Peugeot engine, mounted behind the driver. It weights under 1000 kg which means it is probably extremely fast. The understructure is of tubular steel with some aluminium bits here and there.

2017 De La Chapelle Roadster interieur

I managed to find a vague review of the Roadster here (reviews are not thick on the ground) from 2006.  Here is my translation, my gift to the Anglophone world, done without recourse to Google Mistranslate.: “Goodness me, a little dose of nostalgia. I remember this marvellous French sports cars: the De La Chapelle Roadster. Constructed around various PSA elements, it could become a serious alternative to the Mk 1 Lotus Elise. I have always found it ravishing. Furthermore, elegant and aggressive at the same time. Gifted with ideal proportions. A true passion. And at the moment when there is more and more possibility of a sporting car from Renault, the Roadster sends me back twenty years into the past. The era of Alpines, Berlinettes and even the A310. But what then of the French manufacturers? In the 90s, there were a few possible alternatives. Remember Jiminez, Mega, Hobbycar and the other Hommell? What do we have today? Ah yes, the electric Venturi and a Heritage Venturi. Not much, to be honest,  nothing fantastic (ok, Vincent, I exaggerate a little). Luckily, a few friends across the channel remain on watch. While waiting, let us not deprive ourselves of a few Roadster clichées. And I have the feeling that its creator has not forgotten the idea. The passion to enjoy again the good times before us, here and everywhere.” A little might have been lost in translation but it is not a million kilometres from the conversational tone of the text. The French do like their idioms. Francophones, be gentle: I haven’t used French since 1993.

The other cars use BMW engines: any six cylinder can be fitted according to the customer’s wishes. With their tubular frame bodies and large capacity engines, these cars are rather fun contraptions. As four-seat, hatchback driving rapidly loses its allure, I find myself drawn to all these fringe vehicles: Copens, Mitsubishi LM300s, even motor-cycles.

I saw a Honda V-2 today – the kind of bike used by late-middle aged blokes with no hair and big beards – that’s not me. A year ago I would not have looked twice at the motorcycle. And I find myself now looking twice at the Grand Prix here and imagining a wind-in-the hair tour through the Ardennes or Black Forest. It must be a mid-life crisis.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

3 thoughts on “Far From The Mainstream: De La Chapelle”

  1. ‘To my mind it looks like a TVR (thanks to the GRP body) but with a lot more finesse.’

    Richard, I fear you have taken leave of your senses!

  2. Just Wow! No idea of prices for the driveable Bugs?

    I think the Roadster does have a TVR aura, but as you say, better done.

    Saw a Venturi last year parked in my town; attracted a crowd of (well, five) fans who presumably knew what it was, which I didn’t at that stage. Nice looking but no clue as to its innerds. Reminded me of those ’50s/’60s English specials — Tornado, anyone?
    Alpine again in business, up at Dieppe, not far, so sometimes seen around. Never liked their appearance much. For small-engined buzzbombs I prefer Abarth-Fiats.

    That Honda’s very mid-life: look at the oh-so-comfy fat rear tyre.

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