The 1905 Darracq 200 HP made a big splash at the prestigious Goodwood Festival of Speed Hill Climb in 2015 when its owner Mark Walker absolutely caned it up the Lord March’s driveway. It’s not every day you see someone pitching a pre-Great War car into a four-wheel drift while his passenger hangs on for dear life, but that was indeed the case. In 2016, however, Walker brought the old land-speed racer back to Goodwood for the 74th Goodwood Members Meet. Unlike the more prestigious Festival of Speed and Reunion, this is more of an amateur event, though it still attracts some stunning fields of beautiful vintage cars.
The Darracq was for many years the most powerful car ever built; Frenchman Pierre-Alexandre Darracq was its progenitor and the 200 was the follow-up to his 100-horsepower car, which developed that power from an 11-liter four-cylinder engine. The sequel was, in this case, much more epic with the 200 deriving its power from an insane 25-liter overhead-valve V8 that took the car to a land-speed record of more than 122 mph at Daytona Beach.
This was long before even moderately high-compression engines, so there really was no replacement for displacement when building engines. As a result, the low-revving sounds like a complete tractor, but the torque is steady enough that it flings the skeletal car at a good pace. There’s really not much more than a massive engine, a massive V-shaped radiator, a huge aerodynamic water tank between the cylinder banks, two seats, a steering wheel, and skinny tires that would be jealous of those on your Huffy when you were a kid.