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1903 DARRACQ MODEL H 12HP TWIN-CYLINDER REAR For Sale by AuctionBonhams are delighted to offer at our forthcoming Collectors' Motor Car Auction on Friday 3rd November at The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run Sale, New Bond Street, London, 26 veteran motor cars – plus 200 lots of automobilia. The full online catalogue can be viewed at www.bonhams.com/24123. For further images and information on this lot, please follow the link.
1903 DARRACQ MODEL H 12HP TWIN-CYLINDER REAR ENTRANCE TONNEAU
REGISTRATION NO. D 241
CHASSIS NO. 3753
* Pioneering, high-quality French make
* Present ownership for the last 18 years
* Restoration completed in 1999
* A regular LBVCR participant
£120,000 - 160,000
€130,000 - 180,000
Born in Bordeaux in 1885, Alexandre Darracq made a fortune in the bicycle industry's boom years of the late 19th Century, and like many of his contemporaries subsequently turned his attention to powered transport. Darracq's new venture was financed by the sale of his Gladiator bicycle business to Dunlop, though he continued to make bicycle components in his new factory at Suresnes, Seine.
After two false starts that saw him abandon electric carriage manufacture and then attempt unsuccessfully to sell the built-under-licence Léon Bollée voiturette, Darracq launched his first successful internal combustion-engined automobile in 1900. Darracq was a businessman rather then an engineer and had recruited designer Paul Ribeyrolles to be responsible for its production.
That first 6½hp single-cylinder voiturette was followed by a range of twins and fours, and to publicise his products Darracq set about establishing a reputation for sporting prowess, commencing in 1901. In December 1905 a 22-litre V8-engined monster designed by Ribeyrolles and driven by Victor Hemery set a new World Land Speed Record of 109.65mph, and that same year Darracq won the both the Circuit des Ardennes and Vanderbilt Cup races, repeating the latter victory in 1906.
Early in 1903 a consortium of British investors had bought the company, though Darracq remained as managing director. In 1905 its UK operations were incorporated as A Darracq & Co, with offices in London's Oxford Street, and in 1906 the firm opened an assembly plant at Kennington, South London. Before then the UK's sole importer had traded under the 'Automobilia' name. Advertising the new 1903 12hp Darracq, Automoblia described the car as 'perfectly silent and smooth running' before inviting prospective customers to 'call and inspect before purchasing elsewhere.' The 12hp Model H was a milestone model for Darracq in so far as it was powered by a twin-cylinder engine featuring mechanically operated valves in 'T'-head formation, an arrangement that brought with it easier starting and increased power output. Other noteworthy features advertised included an engine cast in one piece and driving direct to the back axle on top speed; ignition apparatus under front of bonnet; governor on the induction; and a wood frame.
This 'Genevieve'-type Darracq's early history is uncertain. The earliest surviving record is a copy of a sales ledger indicating that on 31st August 1935 the Darracq was purchased as 'an old croc' from one C Gillam Esq for the princely sum of £4. An application for dating was first submitted in 1953 by John G Hay together with a photograph of the car with a charabanc body, clearly adapted for commercial use.
The Darracq subsequently passed to Mr Robert J Jardine from Ashford, Kent, who resubmitted the car for dating in 1993. In 1994 it was dated as a 1903 Darracq 12hp with a two-seater body. Mr Jardine started the car's restoration, which was completed by the current vendor who had bought the Darracq in February 1999. Finished by the end of that year, the restoration included making a replica of an original and correct four-seat rear-entrance body.
Since then the Darracq has been used regularly on Veteran Car Club events and the London to Brighton Run. In 2000, 'D 241' successfully completed the reenactment of the 1,000-Mile Trial and took part in the reenactment of the Paris to Vienna Race. The car completed The Gordon Bennett reenactment Rally at Clermont-Ferrand in 2005, and in 2007 was rallied to Bordeaux and took part in the 100th anniversary race from Paris-Bordeaux, in reverse of the original. We are advised that its performance is what one would expect of a 12hp Darracq: very good. In recent years the car has continued to be well maintained, though it has seen more limited use.
Accompanying documentation consists of a VCC Dating Certificate, numerous expired MoTs, a V5C Registration Certificate, FIVA Identity Card and a disc copy of the history file held by the VCC.