Boillot the charlatan


I particularly enjoyed the article on the 1914 French GP in your January issue.

If Georges Boillot was a vain man he had every right to be. Georges Boillot together with Paolo Zucccarelli, Jules Goux and Ernest Henry were 'The Charlatans'. They designed and constructed the first ever twin overhead-cam engine.

They were christened thus by Peugeot factory engineers upset because Peugeot commissioned them to produce a racing engine. Peugeot hedged his bets by also commissioning Bugatti who had already sold a car design to Peugeot to produce an alternative racing machine. In the event the Charlatans Twin Cam was some 15 mph quicker than the Bugatti design.

Did this put Bugatti off twin cams, as he did not himself build one until 1930?

Bugatti was, of course, copying a design which Miller had copied from Ballot. Ernest Henry was at the same time working for Ballot producing pure Charlatan engines. Thus Bugatti copied a copy of an engine that deprived him of a Peugeot contract in 1911. As a desert Island car the 1912 7.6-litre twin-cam Charlatan Peugeot which won the 1912 GP de l'ACF must top the list.

Surely Boillot cannot fade into obscurity.

I am, yours, etc. Graeme S Bennett, Warninglid, West Sussex