Thursday, 23 December 2010

2 miles a minute - 1905 Darracq 200hp

Using the profits from the sale of his Gladiator cycle factory, Alexandre Darracq founded Automobiles Darracq 1896.

In 1905 he built a 200hp V8 specifically for setting Land Speed Records.

Straight out of the box Victor Hemery set an LSR on the V8 Darracq at 109 mph at Aries in France.

The Darracq was then shipped to Ormond - Daytona where Hemery's belligerent behaviour did not go down well with officials so Louis Chevrolet was drafted in to drive the car to a 1 mile petrol powered LSR of 117.65 mph only 10 mph slower than Frank Marriott on his Stanley Steamer ! Finally Victor Demogeot set a 2 mile LSR beating the Stanley Steamer with an average speed of 122.5 mph becoming the first vehicle to cover 2 miles in less than 1 minute.

Sir Algernon Lee Guiness of the famous Brewing company became the next owner of the Darracq and he used it to set many records in the UK and France until 1909.

The car then fell into the hands of someone who scrapped the axles for no particularly obvious reason and somehow Sir Algernon retrieved the remaining car which was kept stored until 1956 when his widow sold the car to Gerald Firkins who recreated the vehicle as we see it today.

When the pistons were replaced it was found that the engine volume was 25400 cc / 1495.1 cui not 22.5 litres as had been thought for nearly 100 years !

Mark Walker purchased the vehicle in 2006 and has campaigned it regularly in hill climbs and races ever since. Notice anything missing from the front axle ? This vehicle has never had brakes acting on the front wheels yet still gets driven competitively in the rain !

Despite having no front brakes, or reverse gear, a rear axle recreated from a drawing in a 90 year old book and being well known for spitting flames the Darracq is road legal and Mark drives it to and from competitive events.

Hope you have enjoyed todays Edwardian edition of Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres, looking forward to Ferrari Friday when I'll be presenting a Ferrari that allegedly served time as a mini van on the dark side of the moon ! Don't forget to come back now !