Sun May 11 2014 14:59:03 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Mark Brinker with his 1959 Deutsch Bonnet HBR-5, a car in which he set eight Bonneville records for small-displacement sports cars.
The Glasspar G2 Mameco-Ardun sports car featured in Sunday’s Automobile section has a story to tell. That tale, however, might not have ended particularly well were it not for Mark Brinker, who purchased the long-lost car and financed an exacting restoration.
The Mameco-Ardun joins a collection of 17 cars owned by Dr. Brinker. All are noteworthy, but highlights include the 1954 Sorrell Manning Special, which won its class at the Amelia Island Concours d’Élégance in 2011; Chet Herbert’s Beast III, a record-setting Bonneville streamliner that languished in a warehouse for 55 years until Dr. Brinker purchased it; the Roth and Ronnow 1927 Ford Model T Roadster that raced at Bonneville in 1952 and subsequently spent 50 years in hiding; and the Vivant show car that the noted designer Herb Adams built in 1965, currently awaiting restoration.
“Both the Vivant and the Mameco-Ardun weren’t really rollers when I purchased them; they were draggers,” Dr. Brinker said in a telephone interview. “My wife laughs about the cars I pull up the driveway with tailpipes dragging.”
Though Dr. Brinker, 51, may not pick up wrenches, he is nonetheless an expert in restoration. An orthopedic surgeon by trade, his specialty involves reconstructive surgery of complex fractures, and he has won numerous awards for his scientific research. This not-so-latent compulsion to set things straight dovetails with his desire to purchase and restore some of the world’s more interesting but sorely neglected vehicles.
“Ever since I was little, I was fascinated with cars,” Dr. Brinker said. “When there was a chance to get a toy, it was a Matchbox or Hot Wheels car.”
As a high school student in Woodmere, N.Y., Dr. Brinker feasted on car magazines and movies in which cars played principal roles. A Lotus Esprit featured in a James Bond film won his heart, and prompted a purchase when, as a medical resident at Tulane University, he encountered an irresistible deal on an Esprit Turbo.
His first collector car was a Maserati Ghibli 4.9 SS from the early 1970s. Several other Maseratis followed, but when a restoration went poorly, Dr. Brinker decided he was in over his head with Italian exotics, and turned to collecting American automobiles. A 1958 Devlin SS, one of 18 built, became the foundation of his American collection.
Despite the change, Dr. Brinker never lost his eye or appetite for sexy Italians, and eventually acquired a 1955 Moretti 1200 Berlinetta Grand Sport and a 1957 Bandini Saponetta. A pair of French-made Deutsch Bonnet HBR-5s, a couple of Toyota Sport 800s and a Mazda Cosmosport followed.
“I collect what I love,” Dr. Brinker said. “All beautiful, exotic, interesting. Sometimes very rare, like a one-off that’s been missing for decades.”
And though Dr. Brinker may not have the grease-monkey’s need to tinker, he loves to drive his cars, and with authority. He set eight records for small-displacement sports cars at Bonneville in his Deutsch Bonnet HBR-5 and holds the 750cc supercharged mark at 100.386 miles per hour. He has also taken the measure of Laguna Seca in his 1954 Devin Panhard.
And what does Dr. Brinker do in his spare time? He is the co-author of a book about vintage American road-racing cars, a monthly columnist for Vintage Racecar Journal and a screenwriter, sharing credit for the script of the 2008 film “Untraceable.”
His calendar, in addition to his garage, would appear to be full.