Philippe Charbonneaux, a designer and developer of the modern age

Published on by Elodie Chauderlot - updated on

An extraordinary retrospective covering the 60-year career of an extraordinary man presents by the "Musée Automobile de Reims" and "la Cité de l'Automobile - Collection Schlumpf"

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Some history ...

From a very young age, Philippe Charbonneaux devoted his leisure time to inventing and drawing cars and aeroplanes while his teacher told his mother "Let him do anything, just not drawing!" During his holidays, on his own initiative, he took his sketches to the greatest coach-builders of the time. After World War II, Philippe Charbonneaux regularly designed covers for major magazines of the day such as "Sciences et Vie" and "Le Monde Illustré". In 1946 he worked on projects for motor manufacturer Delahaye and in 1948, teamed up with legendary driver Jean-Pierre Wimille to design and build a prototype aerodynamic car based on revolutionary principles. 1949 saw him move to the USA to join the General Motors Style Center team, where he produced the first sketches for car bodies that would develop into the famous 1953 Chevrolet Corvette. Back in France in 1950, Philippe Charbonneaux designed the new "ponton"-style bodywork for the Delahaye 235 model. Ten years later, he was approached by the state-owned Renault company to set up the Style Department at the Rueil Technical Centre and designed the new Renault 8 and 16 models during his time there.

Philippe Charbonneaux was interested in every field the modern world could offer him. He designed highways, buildings, handling equipment, boats, household appliances, toothbrushes, toys, alarm clocks, television sets and more. He was also the designer of the ergonomic famous handle of "La Nenette", the brush to polish the sheetmetal.

Frigo Avia
Lustreuse La Nenette

                                                                                    

Il dessine les Citroën présidentielles, de nombreux camions publicitaires dont l’extraordinaire camion « Pathé-Marconi ». Il dessinera également des carrosseries pour les plus importants constructeurs de poids lourds de l’époque comme Renault, Unic, Bernard, Willeme et surtout Berliet pour qui il réalisa de nombreux véhicules : autobus, pompier, service aéroport, camion pour l’armée. C’est à lui que nous devons la ligne futuriste du Berliet Stradair.

Charbonneaux - croquis

Philippe Charbonneaux ne prendra jamais sa retraite, il consacra ses dernières années à travailler sur la sécurité des automobiles et réalisa plusieurs prototypes de véhicules aérodynamiques dont les roues sont positionnées en losange.