Of all of the strange car names that we’ve paid attention to over the years here at BangShift, Darracq might sound the oddest, but they were the real deal. Darracq was a French car manufacturer that joined forces with Sunbeam and Talbot in the 1920s (making the disastrously-named STD Group) before being absorbed by the Rootes Group in 1935 and subsequently lost to history.
Back at the turn of the century Darracq was a serious player in the fast car game. While their four-cylinders were very useable and torquey, the high point was the V8 they built, one of the first V8’s in existence and possibly the first used in a road-going vehicle (up until that point, the majority of V8 engines were used in aircraft). The Darracq V8 was a monster. Essentially two Bennett Trophy four-cylinders mated at the crankshaft, the 1,551ci V8 could produce [email protected] and torque is estimated to be well in excess of 1,000 ft/lb. The Darracq V8 was built to take speed records, which it did: It held the flying kilometer record at 109.65mph and was clocked at 122.45mph at Ormonde Beach, Florida the next year. The car continued to make appearances and hold records under the ownership of Algenon Lee Guinness until 1909, when a broken piston put the car down. It sat dormant for years afterwards.
In 2005 the car was restored and the engine rebuilt. In the first video you will see the first fire-up in 2006, and the second one is the car making a run at the Prescott Hill Climb in England in 2012. Make no mistake, this car, even for a vehicle made very early in the history of automobiles, is serious business. Watching the driver saw the wheel like a madman shows you just what it took to control these early racers.