A Further Peugeot Postscript

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Around this time last year articles appeared in Motor Sport about the pre-1914 racing Peugeot cars, trying to assess their fate. While this did not produce anything very conclusive, some interesting subsidiary facts emerged. There has now come to my notice a piece of additional information on this obscure and confusing subject. It seems that the Pirelli-shod 2½-litre Peugeot with which André Boillot won the 1919 Targa Florio in dramatic fashion was bought after the race by Prince Sazil, who had a more touring two-seater body fitted and apparently had this Peugeot shipped to Cairo for his personal use. It appears that all three of these 2½-litre racing cars, built for the 1914 Coupe de l’Auto race, which wasn’t run because of the war, were used as fast transport by the Peugeot family and Peugeot associates during the years of hostility.

Afterwards André Boillot drove one in the 1919 Indianapolis race but had trouble with the American-supplied wire wheels. He then won the Targa Florio, reputedly in the same car, which perhaps to this day languishes somewhere on the banks of the Nile?

It seems that in 1921, when they sold the Targa Florio winner to the Egyptian Prince, Peugeot were also offering the two sister cars for sale. In his book “Targa Florio”, W. F. Bradley says that Mon. RéviIle, son of a French Senator, bought one before the war but had to wait until the 1919 Tarp Florio before he could race it, when he drove it into a wall. This might seem to conflict with The Autocar’s story that Peugeot offered all three for sale two years after this race, after having used them throughout the war, unless we accept that the Senator’s son may have staked a claim for one in 1914, which he did not take up until racing recommenced. He appears to have done quite a bit of racing with Peugeot cars, so might well have asked the Company to sell his 2½-litre with the others when it had become outdated.

Confusion is caused by a report in The Autocar, by Mr. Bradley, to the effect that Réville made f.t.d. at the Mont Cenis hill-climb in 1920 (incidentally beating a 1914 G.P. Fiat which had been bought by another amateur, Count Masetti) because the car Réville drove is described as a 1913 G.P. Peugeot, which this rich young Frenchman had bought, the actual one with which Georges Boillot made f.t.d. at Mont Ventoux.

Now Georges Boillot made f.t.d. for Peugeot at Mont Ventoux both in 1912 and 1913. He was killed early in the war, so the latter of these pre-1914 successes was obviously implied. However, if the correct picture was used with the Mont Cenis report, Réville drove a Peugeot with front-wheel brakes, which originally at any rate, only the 1914 G.P. 4½-Iitre and the 1914 Coupe de l’Auto cars possessed. I am convinced that the car depicted is, indeed, one of the latter, which would tie in with Bradley’s story of how Réville had purchased one and the fact that he drove it in the 1919 Targa Florio; it could have been repaired after the accident it sustained in that race. No engine size is quoted in the Mont Cenis report, which would confirm definitely which type of Peugeot was used, and I wonder if any reader with access to French records could quote this? It seems odd that Mr. Bradley should refer to the car as a 1913 G.P. Peugeot if it were a 2½-litre, as he reported both Targa Florio and Mont Cents in successive years and must have been well acquainted with both cars.

It could be that Réville bought two Peugeot racers, although this would conflict with Mr. Bradley’s own statement that all the 1913 G.P. cars went to America and didn’t return to Europe, and, unless The Autocar published a bogus picture with its hill-climb report, it would mean that f.w.b. were fitted to a Peugeot which originally did not have them.

Réville made f.t.d. at the 1921 Mont Cenis climb, possibly in the same Peugeot, again beating Masetti’s Fiat, and he was second in a sports Peugeot in the 1921 Georges Boillot cup race at Boulogne. Incidentally, in researching this, I was interested to see that Mrs. Stewart Menzies, who figured in the aforesaid articles with a 1912 7.6-litre Peugeot, drove her sports Itala in the La Turbie hill-climb in 1925, being placed third behind R. F. Cooper, Zborowski’s friend, in a Ballot and Benoist’s Delage—interesting, as I had not realised that she raced other than at Brooklands and Shelsley Walsh.

When offering the three 2½-litre pre-war Peugeots for sale the Company is reputed to have taken this step because it saw “no further racing utility for this class of car”. However, it was not the end of Peugeot’s racing endeavours, for they gained further successes with sleeve- or cuff-valve cars in Andre Boillot’s hands.—W. B.

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