Charles Deutsch, an engineer from the Ponts et Chaussées and a graduate of the Ecole Polytechnique, and René Bonnet, a self-taught man, joined forces just before the Second World War to build sports and racing cars. After having used the 4-cylinder engine of the Citroën Traction, the bosses of the D.B. brand turned to the famous Panhard engine, an incredible 750 cc air-cooled twin-cylinder. The D.B - Panhard cocktails gave birth to the most incredible racing cars of the 1950’s...D.B HBR 1957 Le Mans Usine
Chassis n° 916 / 924
First class performance
Extremely rare opportunity to acquire a works racing car with a crystal clear history
Clear and perfectly documented history
Estimate : €250,000 - 350,000
One of them was the small car with chassis number 916. After a great performance at the 1956 Le Mans 24 Hours (victory in the performance index), the small firm from Champigny decided to enter three cars in 1957: a redesigned 1956 model, bearing the race number 49, and two new 1957 models, with numbers 50 and 51. Fate and the Lotus armada did not allow a repeat of the previous year’s feat, as D.B 50 (entrusted to Jo Schlesser and Jean-Claude Vidilles) and 51 left the track after Mulsanne, on Sunday 23 June at 7 a.m. ; legend has it that the team's signaller placed there fell asleep with the “Faster” sign in his hand...
Car number 50, which was in the lead at the time of the clue, was given a bodywork overhaul (a copy of the repair invoice from the Lefebvre workshop in Houille, dated 8 July 1957, is attached to the file), and then fitted with a fibre-glass roof, taken from the mould of the HBR5 coach, riveted on with a set of aluminium angles.
It was in this form, not yet painted, entered in the Grand Touring category, that it finished 3rd in the Rouen Grand Prix, then won the Caen Grand Prix, with Jean-Claude Vidilles at the wheel. After this race, the car is finally finished and registered: it loses its chassis number 916 and its provisional registration 3576 WO, in favour of chassis number 924 and registration number 6479 GD 75. The expert commissioned by the insurance company would have declared the 916 chassis irreparable and René Bonnet would have changed the serial number in order to get the insurance premium... But it is the same car!
The 916/924 then went on to race in the berlinette version, with the 6th Tour de France Automobile (number 124, Armagnac - Menneron, withdrawal), and the Tour de Corse (number 47, Laureau - Jaeger, class victory) as a highlight. At the beginning of 1958, Gérard Laureau won again the GT category at the Grand Prix de Pau (number 21), while Jean-François Jaeger drove it to victory at Montlhéry, at the Coupes de vitesse (number 81). Its last official outing, at the Planchois hill-climb near Saint-Etienne (Jaeger driver, number 77), is fatal: it is severely damaged when it goes off the road.
René Bonnet sells the 916/924 on the spot, and it is Lucien Chanchou, garage owner in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, in the Vaucluse, who buys it. He repaired the car, straightening as many of the original parts as possible, and made a new riveted roof, this time in aluminium. It became white, then changed hands and was repainted in yellow. In 1969, it was bought by an amateur who stored it for thirty years, before selling it in 2001 to Jean-Paul Humbert, of the EPAF company in Romorantin, well known for his work on the V12 Matra. This great D.B. Panhard enthusiast then discovered that it was the only surviving barquette from the 1957 Le Mans 24 Hours, and began a restoration, which was completed by its next owner, Honoré Durand, a convinced D.B. enthusiast.
Honoré and his friend Alain Gawski then entered the 916/924 in the most beautiful historic events, including the Tour Auto and Le Mans Classic, before Pierre-Henri Mahul took over... Moreover, the future owner will be lucky enough to be able to take the start of the Le Mans Classic, in a week’s time, with Pierre-Henri, who had entered the car before the Covid... Put on your overalls, strap on your helmet, and jump into the bucket of this extraordinary barquette, an authentic witness to motor racing in the 1950’s. You won’t get the chance twice!