One of the remarkable success stories of recent historic motor racing is the resurgence of competition for Edwardian cars. Despite being at least a century old, these amazing leviathans are enjoying a purple patch and one of the most spectacular is the 1905 Darracq of Mark Walker.
The fearsome, skeletal device thrills fans at race meetings and speed events as Walker, hunched over the wheel, throws the car around like a Ford Escort rally car. Yet this piece of history is now 111-years-old.
The Darracq was built in France in 1905 specifically as a record breaker at the very beginning of motor racing and land speed record breaking. It has a very early V8 engine delivering up to 200bhp, two forward gears, no reverse gear and precious little in the way of brakes, with none at the front. The Darracq has no bodywork, thus giving it the look of a chassis and engine, with a steering wheel and seat.
It ran very close to 110mph in France before being shipped to the US where it reached 120mph on Daytona Beach. Algernon Guinness, heir to the brewing empire, bought it and shipped it to England where it set a new English land speed record of 120.26mph on Saltburn Beach in 1909.
Now, the Darracq is making headlines once more due to the bravado and skill of Mark Walker. When in action, he is on top of the car rather than sitting in it and his effort and determination is clear to see. PL