MYS­TERY CAR

New Zealand Classic Car - - Automobilia -

This month, we’re back to con­ti­nen­tal Europe — and now in the early-to-mid ’50s with this neat lit­tle coupé. What have we here? Send your so­lu­tion, by email or snail mail, to Mys­tery Cars No. 228, NZ Clas­sic Car, PO Box 46 020, Herne Bay, Auck­land by mid Jan­uary. The win­ner will be the first cor­rect en­try opened from the en­tries box. Last month’s Mys­tery No. 227 was the fi­nal se­ries of the René Bon­net Mis­sile, the 1964 Mis­sile II. The story of this car be­gins when René Bon­net and Charles Deutsch were part­ners in DB, but this par­tic­u­lar model was built af­ter the split-up of DB, when Deutsch and Bon­net went their sep­a­rate ways, Bon­net con­tin­u­ing sports and GT car pro­duc­tion with three se­ries of Re­naultengined mod­els. His new de­sign was the René Bon­net Djet, which later be­came more pop­u­lar as the Ma­tra Djet, when Ma­tra pur­chased a con­trol­ling in­ter­est in the René Bon­net en­ter­prise. But Bon­net kept two older de­signs in pro­duc­tion, the FWD front-en­gined Le Mans and its twoseater cabriolet de­riv­a­tive, the Mis­sile. And that was our last month’s Mys­tery, in its fi­nal Mis­sile II con­fig­u­ra­tion, and our pic­ture showed the 1964 ver­sion, pretty much at the end of pro­duc­tion. The ba­sic de­sign traced back to DB days, when the FWD Pan­hard chas­sis de­sign and flat-twin Pan­hard en­gine were the main build­ing blocks for DB de­sign, but by the time the Mis­sile II was be­ing built, the shape only re­mained, with the chas­sis now be­ing the Renault R4 FWD plat­form­type chas­sis, and the en­gine usu­ally the 1093 tuned ver­sion of the rear-en­gined Dauphine, adapted slightly to fit its new lo­ca­tion up front in the Mis­sile’s FWD chas­sis. Note that it was still only an 845cc en­gine, but pushed out a healthy 41kw gross (55bhp) in the 1093 ver­sion, and was sur­pris­ingly light at around 580–590kg (1279lb) dry weight, so its top speed of around 160kph made it quite a snappy per­former. We’ve not been able to trace pro­duc­tion fig­ures, but it is likely not many were sold, be­cause read­ing be­tween the lines, it seems like 1962–’64 were not good years com­mer­cially for René Bon­net, as Renault backed away from Bon­net when some of his com­pe­ti­tion projects were un­suc­cess­ful, though Ma­tra soon af­ter stepped in to keep the Djet in pro­duc­tion. Look­ing back on Novem­ber’s Mys­tery, it seems a pro­duc­tion glitch took place. The Mys­tery pic­ture was right, the Honda L700 van with its twin-cam en­gine from the S-se­ries sports car, but some­how text from the month be­fore found its way in. Apolo­gies to ev­ery­one for that. I think we’re right this month!

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