What about the D’Aoust?
WHAT ABOUT THE DAOUST? ONIN UI IAF WI II I 00KiNG
into the history of Montlhery, the celebrated and still active ‘Paris Autodrome’, as it was called in the beginning, I was intrigued that, at the opening race-meeting in October 1924 , the concluding event was a six-lap race between Parry Thomas’ well-known Leyland Thomas, Ernest Eldridge’s enormous FIAT ‘Mephistopheles’ and Arthur Duray driving what was described as an eight-cylinder 120hp D’Aoust. The Fiat won, at 121.04mph, and Eldridge set fastest lap at 131.89mph. Having a liking for big racing cars, I began to wonder about the D’Aoust. I have never heard any more about this racing machine, which was presumably a one-off, perhaps with an aero-engine. But research shows that the makers, Automobiles J D’Aoust, Anderlecht, Berchem Ste Agathe, specialised in smaller cars. Those Belgians unable
to afford a Minerva, Excelsior, Metallurgique or even a slide-valve lmperia or an FN would probably have made their way to No 206 Chassee de Gaud in Brussels to see what this maker had to offer, after their country had recovered to some degree from the ravages of the vvar. Its basic models were two small cars, with fbur-cylinder side-valve engines of either 63x140mm or 66x140mm, the latter engine given a bore increase of a millimetre by 1924 to lift the car from the 10hp into the 11hp category. These were continuations of pre-war models, from production commenced in 1912.
I doubt if any came to Britain, but at the 1920 Belgian Motor Show in 1920 (the 1919 exhibition having been cancelled because the industry was not ready for it) D’Aoust projected a new car, a back-up to the older ones which were quite advanced anyway, with four-speed gearboxes and effective engines. This additional model was unready for the Brussels Show, but an engine unit was shown there. The concept was a 3-litre 89x120mm fourcylinder engine which had three vertical valves per cylinder, operated by an overhead-camshaft driven by a vertical shaft at the front. From this the usual cross-shaft turned the water pump but not the twin magnetos. These were located one either side of the camshaft cover and driven by chain from the rear end of the camshaft This made them very accessible and they presumably fired two plugs per cylinder. The then-common ClaudelHobson carburettor was used, and on the opposite side of the engine emerged separate exhaust pipes. The design was said to be the work of a specialist in racing cars and apparently the intention was to enter for the leading races in 1921. At the same time the 3-litre Bentley was struggling into production. A rare make, the D’Aoust; if you owned one, do let me know…