Andre Dubonnet

28/6/1897 - 20/1/1980

Andre Dubonnet
Grandson of the creator of the aperitif Dubonnet, he took up racing after a distinguished military carrer. He was responsible for some of the most beautiful custom Hispano-Suiza's ever built. Andre Dubonnet died 42 years ago, he was 83

Andre Dubonnet was the grandson of the creator of the aperitif Dubonnet. After being distinguished in the artillery, he transferred to the French Air Service where he was rapidly classed as among the very best pursuit pilots. A very good non-commissioned officer and excellent patrol leader, his pilots all had confidence in him and cheerfully followed him into combat. On 16 August 1918, he reported his fifth victory. He received four citations and won the Médaille Militaire.

After the war he took up motor racing. He won a sports car race at Boulogne in an Hispano-Suiza H6 in 1921, and repeated it two years later in the larger 8-litre Hispano, which was then appropriately named the "Boulogne." Later that year at the French Grand Prix, an accident had eliminated Inghibert and the Duesenberg he was scheduled to drive was turned over to Dubonnet.

On Saturday, August 7, 1926 Grand Prix racing arrived in Britain for the very first time. On lap 88 of the 110, Benoist was leading Wagner, Divo and Campbell, when his car appeared trailing a huge cloud of smoke. The mechanics worked on the car but the lead had been lost when Benoist rejoined. However just two laps later Wagner couldn't cope with the heat of the exhausts and he headed for a bath of cold water before jumping back into the car. Benoist too found it impossible to go on and went back into the pits. Louis Delage had run out of drivers.

Fortunately Andre Dubonnet was there and volunteered to take over. Dubonnet had never driven the car before and had no racing suit but after a hasty discussion he departed the pits at the wheel of a Grand Prix car, wearing a lounge suit and bringing the car home in 3rd place.

From Monza to Le Mans he drove impressively at the wheel of his Hispano-Suiza. Dubonnet desperatley wanted to build his own car and between 1920 and 1930, he designed and built specially bodied Hispano-Suiza's. Based on original frames, they were fitted with his 4 wheel independent suspension.

In 1960 he joined the board of Simca.

He died during winter of 1980 as a result of the injuries he sustained in a car accident three years earlier.



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