Ob­scure French fan­cies on Tour

Classic Cars (UK) - - Month In Cars -

This year’s Tour Auto placed a spe­cial em­pha­sis on de­funct French garag­iste mar­ques among the fa­mil­iar 911s and GT40S.

DB HBR

Mak­ing its Tour Auto de­but, this unique Dhoest-bod­ied low-drag DB HBR was orig­i­nally pi­loted by Ge­orges Trouis and Louis Hedy to 20th over­all and 14th in the in­dex of per­for­mance at the fate­ful 1955 Le Mans 24 Hours race.

It was sold the fol­low­ing year and un­til the early Nineties was kept in the south of France, used spar­ingly in lo­cal events. ‘I have no idea why some­one would take a car with such history and drill holes in the body to fit a makeshift roof,’ said cur­rent owner Michel Blan­chard. ‘Me­chan­i­cally, it was looked af­ter very well but it was up to me to take the roof off and re­pair the holes in the body­work so it looks just like it did 62 years ago.

‘The long-dis­tance route of the Tour Auto is much harder than the Le Mans Clas­sic,’ Blan­chard con­tin­ued. ‘We were un­sure if the 750cc twin-cylin­der en­gine would cope with frosty morn­ing starts and steep moun­tain passes so a spare was kept in the ser­vice van. But it per­formed fault­lessly – un­til a dis­tracted civil­ian crashed into us.’

BSH Ber­linette

‘It’s been 30 years since see­ing the last of my cars leav­ing the fac­tory and my son buy­ing me one as a gift,’ said Fran­cois Be­nais, car de­signer and the ‘B’ in BSH. ‘But the urge to race again led me to buy this 1971 ex­am­ple and re­store it.’

Bear­ing a strong re­sem­blance to the Lola T70, Be­nais and Max Saint-hi­laire’s kits used Re­nault 8 driv­e­trains and run­ning gear, aimed at those who couldn’t af­ford a full pro­duc­tion sports car. With a rep­u­ta­tion for ex­cel­lent han­dling, 50 DSHS were sold be­tween 1969 and 1971 and were mainly driven at hill­climbs and ral­lies.

‘The high­lights for me were the nar­row tar­mac tracks and moun­tain passes in the Pyre­nees, where the han­dling of the 600kg car comes into its own.’

Porsche 911 RS

Rac­ing for the first time in 39 years, this un­liv­er­ied Porsche is ac­tu­ally one of the most suc­cess­ful of the 54 1974 Car­rera RS 3.0s made. It won ten of the 30 races it en­tered in the Ger­man ADAC cham­pi­onship from 1976 to 1978, with nine sec­ond­places and six thirds be­fore pass­ing into pri­vate own­er­ship. Cur­rent owner Car­los Bel­tran An­dreu shared the driv­ing with Derek Bell.

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