De La Chapelle may not be a household name, but what they lack in recognition, they certainly made up for when they built the Parcours PC12. It's a V12-powered, all-wheel-drive, ultra-luxury...minivan. Why weren't our parents cool enough to have this thing?
Boutique automaker De La Chapelle's bread-and-butter nowadays is in replicas of cars meant to look like classics, but the marque has a history dating back to the earliest days of the automobile. In 1907, it produced its first Stimula car, which competed in some of Europe's toughest hill climb events. The marque was revived in the early 1970s with a line of pre-war-styled vehicles and junior kids' cars, but in the late '80s, the company decided to do something drastically different: a high-performance minivan that's as luxurious as minivans can get.
According to HSG Automotive's "Unsung Heroes" YouTube feature on the Parcours, development began in 1988 on an ultra-high-performance minivan. It featured a tubular frame, a four-speed automatic, air suspension, and more horsepower than even the drag-strip-champ turbo Caravans we got en masse. While many sources claim the van was rear-wheel-drive, restorer parcours.v12 showed off the PC12's all-wheel-drive components on Instagram.
De La Chapelle paid particular attention to the van's aerodynamics, giving it a coefficient of drag of just 0.28—the same as a modern Audi E-Tron. It also shares its taillights with the McLaren F1 and Lamborghini Diablo.
Inside the Parcours was a haven of early '90s luxury, with leather bucket seats and an in-car cell phone in the back. The Parcours could be configured for six or eight seats, according to HSG Automotive. There's even an umbrella hidden in the door, Rolls-Royce-style.
Per HSG Automotive, De La Chapelle only built three Parcours minivans, and not just for show. They were going to sell it as a road-legal production car. The first version is our favorite, as it packed a 5.3-liter Jaguar V12 good for 273 horsepower and 304 lb-ft of torque when new. The top speed was just under 143 mph (230 kph), which was mighty impressive for a van at the time. The second and third Parcours switched to a more powerful 5.0-liter, 326-hp Mercedes V8, with the last one being built for a customer.
The lone V12 version is now in the hands of a restorer who is documenting its restoration on Instagram and Facebook under the handle parcours.v12. According to their intro post for the project, the minivan was rescued from a barn in Beaujolais, France, where it sat for 20 years. As with any rare car, they're having to machine some of its missing parts along the way, plus their feed is full of cool historical photos of the van being designed and built. Check it out here on Instagram, and here on Facebook.
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