André Dubonnet  France

  • Full name André Dubonnet
  • Birth date June 28, 1897
  • Birthplace Paris, France
  • Date of death January 20, 1980 (82 years 206 days)
  • Place of death Paris, France

Andre Dubonnet was one of the more colourful characters of an era that was not short of them. That he came from the famous French aperitif family allowed him to enjoy a hedonistic life of fun, racing cars, taking part in the 1924 Olympics in the bobsleigh, as well as marrying four times. To his credit, he distinguished himself in World War One when he was one of his country's leading fighter pilots.

In the 1920s he poured money into cars, racing for Hispano-Suiza and Bugatti, but was not always the ideal team-mate. At the 1926 British Grand Prix, Robert Benoist handed over to Dubonnet in the lead. But Dubonnet, wearing a lounge suit and beret, had never driven the Brooklands circuit and eventually finished third. He also underwrote many inventions, including a suspension system he sold to General Motors.

The family firm was sold in the 1960s, and Dubonnet turned his energies to solar power. But the good life did not come cheap and he died almost penniless.
Martin Williamson

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