Deutsch Bonnet HBR-5 and Luxe Le Mans

1958 Deutsch Bonnet Hbr5 Front Corner

This could possibly be one of the most interesting finds we’ve ever come across. This 1958 Deutsch Bonnet HBR-5 Super Rallye has some amazing history, which includes racing at Sebring in 1961. The car was originally purchased by Eddie Alvarez in Caracas Venezuela from Antonio Pizzagali. He brought the car back to the States and almost immediately hit the race track with it. After its racing stint the car found its way to this Garage in 1963 and that’s where it’s been since. Reader Kyle K shared this find with us and the listing can be found here on PostWar Classics. The seller not only has this HBR-5, but also a 1961 Deutsch Bonnet Luxe LeMans Convertible for sale, which can be seen in the background.

1958 Deutsch Bonnet Hbr5 Racing

Here is an actual photo of this HBR-5 coming around Webster Turn at Sebring. Even though the car was rolled during practice, it went on to complete 51 laps and even gave Stirling Moss and his Sprite a run for their money. The only car the HBR-5 couldn’t overtake was the Abarth Zagato twin cam of Washburn. Had the car survived another 8 laps, it may have very well won the race.

1958 Deutsch Bonnet Hbr5 Rear Corner

This Deutsch Bonnet is quite the find, but it’s going to need a lot of work, especially body work. It appears someone started the restoration process by stripping the body, gutting the interior, and pulling the engine. Being a Super Rallye meant this car came from the factory about ready to race. The car comes with its original twin spark race engine, which has new rings and gaskets. It’s a 954 cc engine with a 38mm 2 barrel French Zenith Stromberg carb. While this car is going to be a big project, it looks to be very solid.

1958 Deutsch Bonnet Hbr5 Restored

This is likely how this HBR-5 looked in 1961, when it ran in Sebring, and we think it would be amazing to restore it back to its former racing glory. Restoring this car could get expensive and these cars aren’t terribly valuable, but the race provenance could up the value a bit. This project is going to be a labor of love, but we think it would be worth all the work once the new owner takes it for a spin at Sebring. The seller also has a 1961 Deutch Bonnet Luxe LeMans Convertible and hopes to sell both cars together.

1960 Deutsch Bonnet Le Mans Restored

Sadly, the seller didn’t include any photos of the LeMans, especially considering how rare a car it is, but we did find a photo of one. There are only 6 of these in North America and only 72 ever produced. We don’t know the details of the car’s condition, but hopefully it can be saved. An interested party could always buy both cars and sell one to pay for the restoration of the other. We would keep the coupe.

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Comments

  1. Craig Bolton

    Delightful little cars. I’ve had the pleasure of working on one belonging to mon ami Jim Bandy, a noted collector of french cars, and the Panhard engine is like a piece of jewelry- and surprising fast for a small-bore twin!

  2. George

    Are those the brake drums outside of the wheels? Only the French!

  3. Greg Long

    I was in Vancouver BC a month or so ago (looking at another Citroen DS btw!) and found an original brochure for DB’s. The brochure came with a letter from the distributor in Quebec (!) describing the new DB race car they had ‘in stock’. If anyone knows of an originally ‘orange’ DB from Canada I have the brochure for it!

  4. Chris

    The 750 cc HBR-5 was the scourge of the 750cc production SCCA class for a long time. Jewel of a car but very French. Almost bought one in pretty good shape, but the electrics were fried. Very high quality build and very light. The car did not have a separate generator and starter, it was called a dynamotor which depending on polarity was either a starter or a generator. The shop manual was in French.I passed for $750 (dollar a cc).

  5. Chris

    Oddity comment. Bill Devin built up the Panhard engine into one of the first, if not the first, timing belt driven camshaft racing engines. Seems he yanked off the Panhard cylinders and heads and grafted on Norton cylinders and OHC heads using long Gilmer belts to drive the cams. Worked very well. You could order one from Bill Devin in 1954. $2800 ready to go. Made 12 of them.

  6. Steve K

    @Greg Long,
    I the early 70s I found an orange DB, seemingly abandoned in NYC, with New Jersey plates. It wasn’t terribly rough looking, a little jewel. I tried to figure out some way to track/acquire ownership, but lacked the gumption to just spirit it away, as well as the means.

    Alas, it disappeared before I was successful. I’ve wondered ever since where it came from, and where it went. My forlorn hope is that it escaped the crusher.

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