1906 DARRACQ 40/60 TWO SEATER RUNABOUT
Chassis No. 11013 NA
Engine No. 9312
Red with black mudguards and buttoned black leather upholstery
Engine: four cylinder, bi-bloc, L-head, 6.9 litre (422 ci.), c.50hp; Gearbox: three speed and reverse gearbox with side-lever change, shaft drive; Suspension: front, semi-elliptic, rear, semi-elliptic and transverse leaf springs; Brakes: foot on transmission and internal expanding on rear wheels by handbrake. Right hand drive.
Alexandre Darracq had made a fortune from the French cycle trade in the 1890s, but it was not until 1900 that he marketed his first successful motor car. A single-cylinder vehicle, it was very competitively priced and over 700 were sold in the first year. Darracq concentrated on the popular end of the market, giving good value for money with a range of single, twin and four-cylinder cars. The design of Darracq cars took a significant step forward in 1903 when the firm adopted the one piece pressed steel 'Arbel' chassis made by the Forges de Douai. This was not only stronger than the tubular or flitch-plate chassis previously used, but was relatively lightweight and the broad flanges of the pressing acted much like an undershield.
To publicize his firm's products, Darracq pursued a vigorous policy of motor racing and record breaking. Initially, success came in the voiturette and voiture leyere classes, but in August 1905 Ernst Hemery won the Circuit des Ardennes race in Belgium against top quality opposition, following this up with victory in October in the Vanderbilt Cup Race on Long Island, a success repeated for the firm in 1906. The huge 22-litre V8 Darracq took the World's Land Speed Record in 1905 at 109.65 mph, and on Ormond Beach, Florida in January 1906 the same car was recorded as exceeding two miles per minute!
Cars offered to the public were inevitably more restrained. The 3-litre 'Flying Fifteen' introduced for the 1904 season was the firm's best known product, continuing to be offered largely unchanged for the next three years. Only the larger Darracqs were imported into the United States by F.A. La Roche & Co. of 652 Hudson Street in New York City. In 1904 the firm's proprietor covered 2,350 miles in fourteen days at the wheel of a 15 hp without stopping its engine. His agency also offered the 5.8-litre 30 horsepower model.
In 1906 the American agency became the Darracq Motor Car Co. at the same address, and a larger motor car, the 'Model T', was added to the range available. This model had a capacity of near 7-litres. In its native France, the car was designated the 40 hp but it was clearly aimed at the American market and this is where the majority of the production found buyers, where it was catalogued as the 40/60.
By the standards of the day, the 40/60 was a fast car, the Darracq catalogue giving a top speed of 62 mph. However, top speed was only one factor that was taken into account by the discerning buyer in 1906. The fact that the final drive was by shaft, rather than the twin chain system of most large cars of the period, added to the car's perceived refinement, as did the direct drive when in top gear. The single cam shaft engine featured dual ignition by accumulator and low tension magneto, which could be used independently or in combination. The low tension spark plugs were above the inlet valves, thus in themselves ensuring efficient combustion. A variety of body styles were offered on the 40/60 chassis from a stark two-seater runabout through tourers to formal town cars, limousines and landaulettes.
In the 1950's this car was part of the renowned Waterman Collection in Rhode Island and when this collection was dispersed, it passed to the ownership of the respected enthusiast, the late Burton Upjohn of Michigan, who had the Darracq restored by John Caperton to his usual high standard. Since the body was beyond recall, the Darracq was rebuilt in speedster style. The engine, gearbox, radiator, chassis and running gear agree with the published information on the 40/60 model.
In 1965 the car passed to Donald Gilmore of Kalamazoo, Michigan and resided in the Gilmore Museum until sold at auction to Bill Lassiter in 1989. Typical of its period, this powerful and refined car would be entirely suitable for 'Edwardian' events in Europe or 'Brass Age' touring in the States.