Today’s Oddity: 1962 Rambler Chapron Presidencial – De Gaulle Says Non Merci!

(first posted 1/4/2012. Updated 4/9/2016)   I don’t read French very well, but somehow, someone got it in their heads to have French coachbuilder Chapron build a Presidential 1962 Rambler. The upshot was…predictable. De Gaulle loved his Citroens, either the regular DS, or the long and very French Citroen Chapron Presidential. He didn’t like this. I wonder why? If you can translate French, here’s the text that might explain it, as well as the Rambler’s custom grille:

partir d’une Renault Rambler ’62, le carrossier Chapron réalisa à la demande de la Régie de réaliser sur la base de son nouveau vaisseau amiral une voiture présidentielle à soumettre à l’Elysée, en vue de reprendre à Citroën, ce prestigieux marché dont elle était la spécialiste jusque dans les années Quarante. Il en résulte une auto assez austère, aux lignes assez rigides. La calandre a été simplifiée au maximum, la lunette arrière panoramique, transformée en lunette classique, laissant de larges custodes. Ce projet ne déclencha aucun enthousiasme de la part du Général De Gaulle, qui, depuis qu’il fut sauvé par sa DS et l’hydropneumatique de son carrosse au Petit-Clamart, fut et demeura un inconditionnel de la marque du Quai de Javel. Deux vues de la Rambler Renault carrossée par Chapron dans le but de la faire utiliser par l’Elysée, avec sa calandre fort simplifiée, ses custodes retravaillées et ses divers enjoliveurs chromés. L’insigne du carrossier est sur les ailes avant, sous la baguette de caisse. Le Général resta malgré l’offre du constructeur nationalisé, fidèle aux Citroën…

google gave me this gibberish:

From a ’62 Rambler Renault, the coachbuilder Chapron realized at the request of the Board to perform on the basis of its new flagship car for submission to the presidential Elysee Palace, in order to return to Citroen, the prestigious market which she was the specialist until the forties. The result is a car rather austere lines rather rigid. The grille has been simplified to the maximum, the rear pan, turned into a classic bezel, leaving large custodians. This project does not trigger any enthusiasm on the part of General De Gaulle, who, since he was saved by his DS and hydropneumatic his coach at the Petit Clamart, was and remained a fan of the brand of the Quai de Javel. Two views of the Rambler Renault coachwork by Chapron in order to make use of the Elysee Palace, with its simplified grille fort, its custodians and its various reworked chrome bezels. The badge of the body shop is on the front fenders, under the baton of cash. The General remained despite the offer of the manufacturer nationalized, true to Citroën …

Here’s the more intelligible story, thanks to our astute (and French-speaking) commenters:

Renault wanted to recapture the French presidential limousine market from Citroen. Chapron wanted this for the prestige, as they had been the suppliers of such vehicles until the 1940s. So they commissioned Chapron to build one based on what I presume was the largest car they offered at the time, a Rambler. At the time, Renault was selling Belgian-built Ramblers as their top-line car, as they had no large cars of their own.

The “custodians” in the translations are the C-Pillars; the “simplified grille fort” is a “much simplified grille”, the “rear pan” is a panoramic rear window and the “baton of cash” is the chrome strip around the waistline. Quai de Javel in Paris is where the Citroën headquarters used to be, while Régie (meaning something like state-owned company) refers to Renault, which has been mostly privatized since.

So