BSH introduction Click this link for full article: BSH – Final
BSH was the product of François Benais and Max Saint-Hilaire (Benais Saint-Hilaire, BSH). Saint-Hilaire had previously worked with Jacques Durand on his early cars, the Alta, Sera and Arista. In 1969 Saint-Hilaire began building a steel buck for a prototype to be moulded fibreglass. The workshop was located in Issy les Moulineaux where he was shortly joined by Benais. The idea was to sell the cars primarily as kits to make them more affordable…
Initially the car was sold through local Issy outlets but in September 1971, only two years after starting production, the pair sold the business to Marland, one of France’s largest producers of VW Buggies and Jorgia 2cv based roadsters.
The BSH was designed around Renault R8 Gordini mechanicals and general parts, but there was nothing stopping someone sitting standard R8 parts. Benais and Saint-Hilaire sold quite a number of kits in the two years they were in production, many being used for racing and tarmac rallying. This was because these cars were lighter than an equivalent Alpine A110 an apparently more aerodynamic despite the slightly dumpy proportions. They were also considered to be quite aerodynamically stable too, even with only 38% of their mass rested on the front wheels.
In terms of performance, a standard 1255cc 85bhp Gordini powered model comfortably exceeded 200kph on test, and did a standing ¼ in 16 seconds and reached the one-kilometre mark in 31.5 seconds. There was also a notably quicker 1565cc version using the all alloy engine from the R16 TS.
Because of their cuddly shape (as in a teddy bear, not a…), the BSH also seemed ripe for modification with many a customised version gracing the roads. Kits were offered as almost complete cars ready for assembly, including glazing (Renault Dauphine rear window for front screen), interior equipment incorporating a stylised moulded dash and mechanical parts including springs, dampers and anti-sway bars specific to BSH. One thing that seemed to appeal was the interior roominess with a higher roofline than most of its competitors and simplicity of design in that there was a centre cockpit section with complete one-piece hinged front and rear body-clips that made construction and maintenance a lot easier.
Keen pricing was also a factor in sales starting from 17600 F for a basic 1108cc R8 50bhp (@ 4900 rpm) Major engine version through 24300 F for the standard 1255 cc R8 Gordini R8 Gordini (88 DIN @ 6750 rpm) to 22700 F for the top 1565 cc TS model with a standard 85bhp (5750 rpm) engine. These bigger engines produced good torque too, endowing the BSH with good in-gear performance and acceleration.