Paying homage to the variants of the DS, produced by custom coachbuilders when the car was in production from 1955 to 1974, Christophe Bihr and Gérard Godfroy took it upon themselves to build a “DS Grand Palais” in celebration of Citroën’s 100th year anniversary.
By combining the know-how and style of Henri Chapron’s coupés such as the LeDandy and Le Paris, infusing it with the talent of Jean Daninos (the Greek-French constructor of the Facel Vega) and adding a touch of “Pinin Farina”, in the context of bodywork harking to the 1960s, Christophe and Gérard’s goal was to achieve elegance and French style. The result, seen here in the accompanying photos, is a sleek 2 + 2 coupé based on a DS21, that took over 6,000 hours to create.
Over a dozen years ago Christophe bought an old DS21 that he wanted to turn into a convertible. The project began in earnest in 2012 with Gérard doing sketches of a hardtop proposing to make a coupé. Physical modelling commenced in 2014.
Gérard is the designer of the Gand Palais with over 50 years of experience. He worked at Peugeot from 1976 to 1978 in the Gerard Welter staff. His work was used for the basis of the 205. He was one of the founders of Venturi Automobiles, in charge of the first phase of their auto-body creation from 1984 to 2000.
Christophe (58 years of age) and Gérard (now 74) have regularly collaborated on automotive projects. They met in 1985 and Christophe joined the Venturi staff later that year.
For the DS Gand Palais, Gérard travelled to Christophe Bihr’s workshop near Le Mans, a few weeks at a time, to sculpt the prototype. It was a real sculpture work. Everything was done to the eye, without a plan, just like real sculpting from stone but from polyurethane foam. Once the shaping was finished, Gérard then left the body-building to Christophe and his team, composed of two coach-builders, Guillaume Dirard and Tony Boisard.
They made sure to also adapt the current safety and reliability constraints to the car. In total, it was 7 people who worked on the “Grand Palais”, because it needed to be ready to show at Retromobile in Paris this year.
While at first glance it may appear to be the work of Henri Chapron, the curve of the passenger compartment roof and the panoramic visibility of the rear window, set it subtly apart. The sculpting of the lower body panels just before the rear wheels with a cut-up to the body-side moulding and the rear valence below the bumper give an artisanal look to the rear. The rear fender ends have been raised to allow the trunk lid to curve down to the top of the rear bumper – in all giving a raised and subtly more substantial back end than a normal DS sedan.
The interior of the car is entirely made of leather, in order to keep the spirit of the original DS.
Gérard Godfroy hopes to be able to market a limited number in 2020 for between 100.000 and 150.000 euros. Any takers? Email him at email@example.com.
Update – March 15, 2020: We are pleased to provide the following photos courtesy of Gérard Godfroy: