De Dion Bouton restoration project with a question about the
Apr 18 2021
Paul Weeks sent us a message in which he told us about his 1919 De Dion Bouton Paris Town Car. He has just finished restoring the car and is returning it on the road. But he has problems restoring the Cannage and we are wondering if there is anyone who can help him out.
Paul told us the following:
“Our story started 20 years ago when Ron Mellowship a well-known restorer of vintage and veteran cars, and good friend of mine took a fancy to the De-Dion and imported it into the U.K. The car came with an interesting history, having been a Paris Town car through the roaring 20’s carrying rich and flamboyant clients in their search for fun in gay Paris. All throughout the restoration, we were imagining the different people and events that the car had been a part of! Oh if only it could tell us.
The chassis and mechanics had been restored in France, and Ron took delivery of it needing a lot of body restoration and interior work. We realised that the car had been a special car in its day as all the exterior panels had a decoration on them known as 'Cannage' which is a decorative process carried over from horse and carriage days (can still be seen on some of the royal carriages today).
It was done by hand and created a raised design on the panels made up from hundreds of lines all having to be symmetrical and perfect in size and location. A thick paint called 'Jesso' was used and applied to the panel with a piping bag after careful marking out of the panel. The reason for having it done was an indication of wealth and social standing as the process was very labour intensive and expensive.
The car needed a lot of interior restoration as mentioned earlier, but from the remnants of the original materials and fittings, we could see that it was a luxurious car in the day. The De Dion stood for many years in Ron’s workshop while he was researching ways of applying the Cannage and sourcing materials to replicate the ambiance of the interior.
Well fast forward to 2017, I have persuaded Ron to sell me the car and we both get stuck into the restoration. We spent just over a year working 1 or 2 days a week with Ron putting lots of hours into the interior restoration, with me doing the donkey work. We used as many original parts as possible, which included the bone handles original wood capping. When we had to use new materials, we used materials close to the original.
We have completed the work without the Cannage as we still can’t find anybody that is capable of doing the job unless any of the readers can tell us differently.”
First of all thank you very much, Paul, for sharing this wonderful story with us. We think his question is quite clear. Paul still has the original panels with the Cannage on. The base colour of the panel was Royal claret and the Cannage was a trawler colour. Now he is interested to know if anyone has got the skills to restore the panels or knows someone who can. Maybe there is anybody who has or had the same problem.
They have completed the restoration of the 1919 De Dion Bouton. The Cannage can always be added to the car at a later date but would definitely finish the car. Please get in touch with us by commenting below or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help Paul with the restoration of the Cannage.
Words by the editor. Story and photographs sent in by Paul Weeks.