Present family ownership since 1964 1900 Darracq 6½hp Four seater Voiturette Registration no. BW 64 Chassis no. 50 Engine no. 829
French engineer and entrepreneur Alexandre Darracq established the Gladiator Cycle Co. in 1891, developed it over a five year period and sold out in 1896. He retained his interests in the bicycle industry, shrewdly moving to components manufacture, but was intrigued by the new-fangled horseless carriages. The first successful car built by Société A. Darracq at Suresnes was a horizontal-engined car to the design of Leon Bollée which appeared in 1898. Darracq found this machine to be inefficient and built a car to his own design which appeared in 1900. This was powered by a vertically mounted single cylinder Perfecta engine of 6½hp, sitting in a tubular steel chassis, driving through a three speed gearbox and with shaft final drive, a very advanced feature in its day. The model was first advertised in Autocar magazine in November 1900 priced at £250 and some 1,200 or so examples of this model left the Suresnes factory in the period up to the end of 1901. The new Darracq caused much consternation in the De Dion Bouton camp and there is no doubt that Darracq were a thorn in the side to that expanding company.
This jewel-like voiturette is the oldest Darracq dated by The Veteran Car Club of Great Britain and is recorded in their current List of Cars. It carries four seater coachwork by Carrosserie A.Vedrine.E.Beugniot & Co. of 7 Quai de Seine, Courbevoie, a favoured coachbuilder local to the Darracq factory at Suresnes. Car no. 50 was imported in 1900 via The Automobile Manufacturing Co.Ltd. of 48 and 49 Long Acre, London, WC, and first registered BW 33 with Oxford County Council. That number was lost during a long period off the road and the present similar Oxford number was allocated in the 1960s.
The full history of the car is not recorded but it was acquired in 1964 by the vendors' father from Vincents of Reading, noted coachbuilders, where it shared a stable with a veteran Benz and a Renault. It is believed at that stage the car had been unused for at least 35 years since 1929. A photograph taken upon acquisition in 1964 shows the car to be remarkably complete and original. Its skilled engineer owner embarked on a 2,000 hour full restoration, leaving no stone unturned and carefully retaining originality wherever possible. A full schedule recording that restoration is on file for inspection.
In 1965, in the hands of its restorer, BW 64 completed the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, the first of many complete runs in the present family ownership. On more than one occasion BW 64 has been the first car to cross the Finish Line at Madeira Drive. With a 1900 dating, (VCC Dating Certificate no. 1080), this car enjoys an early start from Hyde Park, a considerable advantage to a more relaxed drive to Brighton.
In 1968 the car completed the VCC London to Edinburgh Rally and, buoyed by this achievement, was taken to Australia in 1970 where it successfully completed the 1,000 mile run from Sydney to Melbourne via Canberra.
BW 64 has stood well the test of time following its restoration 48 years ago. It is attractively liveried in maroon and black and seating is upholstered in black leather. Mechanical condition has always been kept right up to scratch and the car drives well with spritely performance. It is equipped with brass oil lamps front and rear and a bulb horn, carries a VCC dating plate and comes with front and rear tonneau covers as well as fitted covers for the lamps and steering wheel.
The documents file includes much interesting correspondence and history relating to this car and BW 64 comes with a Swansea registration document and a number of spare parts acquired during its restoration. Here is a well restored Brighton runner from one of France's premier pioneer motor manufacturers, coming from long term ownership and with an impeccable history and driving track record and an early starter on the Brighton Run. BW 64 comes with an accepted entry in the 2012 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.