|Andre Dubonnet lived a rather interesting life (28 June 1897 - 20 January 1980) that spanned two World Wars, numerous ventures and conflicts and ended in Paris in 1980. Heir to a famous French drinks empire, he paved his own way from the start with an insatiable appetite for adventure that is difficult to describe with a simple statement.
Dubonnet came into his own as a French Air Service fighter pilot in World War I flying a SPAD XIII - Neiuport-built aircraft powered by a Hispano-Suiza engine. After the war, he began to race cars with parts that echoed back to his war days. Using a Hispano-Suiza engine and chassis, he contracted with Neiuport to build a body using aircraft lightweight architecture. In no time he was winning important races continuing to etch his name into history. That was in the 1920's.
Over the years, he married four times and registered numerous automotive patents including the Dubonnet suspension system to which he sold patent rights to Alfa Romeo, General Motors, Fiat and Delahaye. To demonstrate that achievement in the late 1930's, he again turned to Hispano-Suiza for power and to coachbuilder Jacques Saoutchik to design and build a head-turner to draw attention to his independent suspension system. The result was the 1938 Dubonnet Xenia H6C Saoutchik Coupe, an aerodynamic beauty that continues to turn heads. Restored at D & D Classic in the late 90's, it has enjoyed quite a bit of show time since. At the 2000 Pebble Beach Concours, it won the Most Elegant Closed Car aware and since has won many other prestigious awards. The word unique is often misused. When used correctly, unique means "one the only one." That's the Dubonnet Xenia!
Powered by a 6-cylinder, 7.0 Litre Hispano-Suiza engine, the Xenia features Dubonnet's four-wheel suspension, parallel-sliding doors, flared in rear fenders, a wraparound windshield and a teardrop tail that wraps around fitted luggage that matches the contours of the teardrop. Reportedly, it spent some 50 years in the same family before it was sold to Charles Morse who contracted with D & D Classic to have the car restored.
It's almost a sure bet that you remember seeing this car either in one of the many magazine articles in which it has appeared, in person, on TV or in the auto section of a newspaper. Likely, you have not seen any of the restoration photos and that's what this piece is all about. We figured you'd enjoy seeing them. Sit back and enjoy.