1904: Darracq driven by P. Baras

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4 cyl. Petrol
100 bhp @ 1200 rpm
11,259 cc
Bore x Stroke:
160 x 140 mm
4 spd. rear via chains
1000 kg (approx)
Top Speed:

104.52 mph


Rigolly's feat of being the first to achieve 100 miles an hour did not stand unchallenged for long. He had made his successful attempt in July, 1904, and in November Baras turned out, again on the Ostend road, to clip one-fifth of a second off the best time so far with 21.4 seconds, a speed of 104.52.

Baras drove a 100 horse-power Darracq, a name which appeared for the first time on the record scene but was to become famous in road-racing and also in the production car world for nearly 50 years to come.

The Darracq also took the land speed record again the following year, but this was a more powerful car, for which double the power output was claimed. The car driven by Baras was a four cylinder front-engined machine of the type that was orthodox at the time.

Baras, like many other early record breakers, was a racing driver and won the Paris-Ostend race of 1899 on a De Dion tricycle of 2.2 horse-power at 32.8 miles an hour over a distance of 201 miles.

In 1905, the year after his world record run, he also drove the fastest car in the French Grand Prix, although he did not win; the race was won by a Renault, but Baras on a Brasier 105 horse-power car of 11,982 cc covered the 64-mile circuit near Le Mans at a whopping 73.3 mph!

By this time designers were claiming power outputs of the order of 100 horse-power for their record cars, and the French built Darracq was so rated, although Unique Cars & Parts have been unable to determine in any detail or with any accuracy just how these figures were calculated.

But Baras' car was known as the 100 horse-power Darracq, and was a four cylinder petrol-engined machine conforming to the formula of the day, which imposed a maximum weight limit of 1,000 kilograms on Grand Prix road racing machines.

Since all the record cars of the time were modified road racing cars the same formula also applied to them. At this time there were few other restrictions on the type or design of vehicle used, and runs were still being made in one direction only.

As a result would-be record breakers were still able to wait until the wind was behind them before they set off, but they could not have gradient with them as well as wind, because it had been ruled that if the course was not quite flat the gradient must be too slight to give any appreciable advantage to the driver and car in one direction.

Also See:

Land Speed Record Drivers
Herbert Austin LSR Attempt
History Of The Land Speed Record
Unique Cars and Parts USA - The Ultimate Classic Car Resource