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René Bonnet (Vaumas, December 27, 1904 – January 13, 1983) was a French driver and automobile constructor.
He started building race cars in 1936 with Charles Deutsch and in 1946 they founded Deutsch et Bonnet in Champigny-sur-Marne, using Citroën and Panhard mechanics. They separated in 1961 and René Bonnet founded the firm Automobiles René Bonnet in Romorantin. Bonnet created the world's first road-legal mid-engined sports car, powered by Renault mechanics: the René Bonnet Djet http://www.automobile-sportive.com/guide/matra/djet.php. The Djet had a significant racing career at Sebring, Le Mans, the Nürburgring (in 1962, a Djet finished 20th and 1st in its class) and in many rallies including the Tour de France Automobile http://www.club-djet.com/histoire/histoire.htm.
There was also a convertible called the "Missile", which sported tailfins. This car, however, was a commercial failure in spite of its performance. As a result of this, Automobiles René Bonnet came into financial trouble and he was forced to sell the company to its supplier Matra in October 1964. Bonnet never returned to the automobile industry afterwards, but the Djet and Missiles remained in production by Matra.
René Bonnet died in an automobile accident on January 13, 1983, aged 78. He is buried in Champigny-sur-Marne.
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