GREAT RACING MARQUES.
By E. K. H. KARSLAKE.
SEVERAL times during the history of motor racing, there have been periods when one make of car seemed to be absolutely supreme. Panhard et Levassor were invincible in the early days ; Fiat had a great period in 1907 and another in 1922; at the moment the name of Bugatti stands at he head_ of the result of nearly every race ; but none of these golden ages can quite compare, perhaps, with that enjoyed by Peugeot in the years just before the war.
The reputation of the great French firm, however, does not date only from its greatest period of fame. Long before the beginning of the motor era, Peugeot freres were famous as manufacturers of various mechanical devices ; and in fact to this day if one inspects the bottom of a pepper-grinder the chances are that one will find the name Peugeot and the famous lion trademark engraved on it. They were amongst the first to take up the manufacture of motor cars ; and when the , first motor race ever held, was run from Paris to Rouen in 1894, a 4-seater Peugeot car was present at the starting line. This machine arrived second in Rouen behind the Marquis de Dion’s . steam car ; but as the event was more of a reliability trial than a race, the Peugeot was allotted the first prize in conjunction with a Panhard which arrived third, “for the qualities of their cars, which. respond well to the desiderata of the contest, without however yet completely fulfilling the dreams of the tourist ! “
The next year a pure speed test was organised from Paris to Bordeaux and back, and was won in marvellous fashion by Panhard et Levassor ; but the second, third and fourth places were occupied by Peugeots. After that race, Peugeot rather faded for a time from racing prominence ; but in 1899 a new monster 20 h.p. racer was built. Up till then no race had been won by anything rated at more than 8 h.p., so that this Peugeot was indeed a novelty. On it Lemaitre proceeded to win two important races, the Nice-Castellan-Nice, when he averaged 26.1 m.p.h. for 75 miles, and the PauBayonne-Pau at 33.2 m.p.h. for 129 miles.
It was not until 1909, however, that was started the great series of victories which made Peugeot worldfamous, and which started with a victory in the Coupe des Voiturettes races. Actually the Peugeot concern had taken part in this race the year before, when three Voiturettes, driven by Giuppone, Jules Goux and Georges Boillot were entered. These 1908 racers had singlecylinder engines of 100 x 170 mins. (1335 c.c.)—a very long stroke for these days which was explained by the fact that the rules of the race limited the bore of singlecylinders to 100 mins. Transmission was by a 4-speed gear-box and side chains. In the race the Peugeots kept well up with the leaders, Goux and Boillot finally finishing third and fourth, with Giuppone fifteenth. In 1909, Peugeot presented two distinct types of car for the race. Of these the first was a single-cylinder
with a bore and stroke of 100 x 250 mins. (1964 c.c.), having the maximum bore and stroke-bore ratio allowed by the regulations. This engine had no fewer than three inlet and three exhaust valves, arranged all round the cylinder and two sparking plugs in the head. Two of the cars entered were this model, while the third was a V-twin of 80 x 192 inms. (1931 c.c.). In the race, the ” singles ” driven by Guippone and Goux soon showed themselves to be considerably faster than Georges Boillot’s twin, and after a great fight with the HispanoSuiza team, Giuppone and Goux finally finished first and second, with Boillot fourth. This Peugeot victory was to be the herald of many more.
The next year’s race was the last run under the limited bore rules, and produced the most extreme cars. Again Peugeot presented two distinct types. The first of these was a V-twin, with a bore and stroke of 80 x 280 mms. (2816 c.c.) and a stroke-bofe ratio of 3.5: 1! There were three valves per cylinder, one inlet mounted vertically in the head and the two exhausts horizontally ; all three were operated by a single overhead camshaft, while each cylinder had its own magneto and carburettor. Transmission was by a 3-speed gear-box and sidechains. The height of the engine owing to the long stroke was so enormous, that although the bottom of the crankcase was given only just enough ground-clearance, and the driver sat fairly high up, he could not hope to see over the top of it. The bonnet was therefore made very narrow, with a carburetter sticking out each side, and Jules Goux, who drove the machine, had to peer round one side of it ! In order to waste no room at the top, the exhaust-pipes delivered straight through the top of the bonnet into the open.
The second type of Peugeot was a V-type 4-cylinder, with a bore and stroke of 65 x 260 rums. (3452 c.c.) and a stroke-bore ratio of 4:1 ! ! The valve and exhaust pipe arrangement was the same as on the 2-cylinder, and the drive was also by side-chains ; in this car, however, the driver was able to look over the top of the bonnet.
Two days before the race, Giuppone, the previous year’s winner, turned over on one of the 4-cylinder cars, and was killed, thus leaving only Goux on the 2cylinder and Boillot on the other 4-cylinder to start iv the race. Goux’s car, in spite of its unwieldy appearance, soon showed itself the fastest machine in the race, and covered a round of the Boulogne circuit at nearly 60 m.p.h. He . was soon engaged in a terrific duel with Zucarelli’s Hispano Suiza, but for the first half of the race he held the lead. Then, however, he suffered a number of minor troubles, and finally finished second, while Boillot on the 4-cylinder car ran into fourth place. The somewhat eccentric appearance of the Peugeots in the 1910 race finally convinced the organisers of the Voiturette race that the bore limit had been carried far enough, and for 1911 the rules specified that orly
4. cylinder cars were eligible to race, with a capacity limit of 3 litres and a maximum stroke-bore ratio of 2.1. The Peugeot people, however, were still keen on high piston speed, and their 4-cylinder cars, therefore, had the maximum ratio with a bore and stroke of 78 x 156 mms. (2974 c.c.). Three cars started, driven by Boillot, Goux and Zucarelli, the winner of the last year’s race, and who now joined the team to replace Giuppone. From the outset, all the competition lay between Boillot, and Ballot on the Delage, and after a magnificent duel, the Delage finally finished first with Boillot little over a minute behind. In the meantime, however, Zucarelli had overturned on the first circuit, and Goux, while running well on the tenth lap, broke a valve and retired.
In 1912 the Automobile Club de France revived its Grand Prix which had not been held since 1908; and Peugeot decided to enter for it. There was no limit as to engine size, and the Peugeots had 4-cylinder etigines of 110 x 200 mms. (7606 c.c.) with two overhead camshafts. The three cars were driven by Boillot, Goux and Zucarelli while a 3-litre Peugeot of the same type as had run in 1911 was entered for the Coupe de l’Auto Voiturette race which was run in conjunction with the Grand Prix, and had Thomas at the wheel. The story of that race has become an epic ; how Boillot fought with the big 14-litre Fiats ; how they led at the end of the first day : and how finally Boillot got home in first place. Georges Boillot was the only man of the Peugeot team to finish, but he had won the race, and the Peugeot was recognized as the champion car of the year.
Another race later on in the season confirmed its superio.ity. In 1911 had been inaugurated the Grand Prix de France race by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest. In 1912 this race was again run at le Mans, there being a class for 3-litre cars and another for those with any size of engine. Peugeot entered two of the 7-litre Grand Prix cars in the big class driven by Boillot and Goux, while Zucarelli and Thomas were entere.1. on two of the 3-litre cars in the smaller class. At the end of the:first lap, the four Peugeots were in the first four places, and continued to dominate the race throughout. On the fifth lap,
however, one of the studs holding the exhaust manifold on Boillot’s car broke off, penetrated the water jacket, and allowed all the water to leak away, with the result that the engine seized and Boillot was put out of the race. At the same time Thomas was forced to retire, with a broken back axle. Goux and Zucarelli, however, finished first and second, and thus secured a win for Peugeot in each of the classes.
The next year, Jules Gottx went to America with a 4-cylinder Peugeot of 113 x 184 mms. bore and stroke (7384 c.c.), the limit for the Indianapolis race for which it was entered being 7.4 litres (450 cub. ins.). In this event, after a magnificent race, Goux succeeded in finishing first at an average speed of 76.59 m.p.h., and thus scored the first European win in the American classic.
In 1913 the French Grand Prix was at Amiens and was run on a fuel consumption basis of 14 m.p.g. For this event Peugeot built a set of entirely new racers with four-cylinder engines of 100 x 180 mms. (5654 c.c.), but otherwise following the 1912 design with two overhead camshafts and 4 valves per cylinder, and running up to about 2,200 r.p.m. Three cars were entered for the race and were handled by Georges Bolllot, Ju1e3 Goux and Delpiene, who replaced Zucarelli who had been killed in an accident. The contest soon resolved itself into a three-cornered fight between the Peugeots, Sunbeams and Delages. Delpiene’s Peugeot only covered one lap, but Boillot and Goux got into first and second places on the 20th circuit and remained there until the finish, Boillot averaging 72.2 m.p.h. for the 570 miles, and winning for Peugeot the blue ribbon of motor racing two years in succession. The 1913 Coupe de l’Auto was run at Boulogne and was once more for 3-litre cars. Peugeot entered three racers of the same bore and stroke as had been used in 1911 and 1912, and otherwise exactly similar to the larger Grand Prix cars. In the race the three Peugeots were driven by Boillot and Goux, and Victor Rigal, who had won in 1912 on a Sunbeam ; and once more it was this English car which proved their most formidable foe. At the end of the first lap, however, Boillot and Goux appeared in the first two places ; and there they still were at the end of the race, Boillot’s average being
63.15 m.p.h. for the 387. miles. Goux finished some nine minutes behind him, while Rigal, on, the third Peugeot captured fifth place. For the 1914 Indianapolis race, Peugeot entered two of the 71-litre machines, with Boillot and Goux as their drivers ; and as well as this Duray borrowed one of the 3-litre Coupe de r Auto racers from its owner, M. Menier, and entered it also for the American classic. The Peugeots’ chief rivals in the race were the Delages, and in the end one of them won ; but Arthur Duray astounded everyone, himself included, by finishing second on his little 3-litre Peugeot, less than seven minutes behind the winner. The big Peugeots, however, were dogged by tyre troubles, and Boillot’s car left the track
after a burst and turned over ; Goux, having been held back by them and the necessity to replace two broken front spring shackles, finished fourth. On July 6th, 1914, was run the French Grand Prix at Lyons, and its dramatic story as well as the fact that it was to be the last for seven years, has mafle it famous in racing history. The race was for cars of under 4i litres capacity, and for it, therefore, Peugeot constructed an entirely new set of racers, with bore and stroke of 92 x 169 mms. (4496 c.c.). The engines were of the same design as before, but the cars now had carefully streamlined tails, and—for the first time in racing history—four-wheel brakes were used. Everything possible had been done to ensure Peugeot a third consecutive win in the Grand Prix, and the cars as before were entrusted to Boillot, Goux and Rigal. But they now had a formidable foe to face in the shape of the Mercedes, and at the end of the first circuit it was Seiler, on one of the German cars, who held the lead, with Boillot second. By the sixth lap, however, the French champion had got into first place, but Lautenschlager on another Mercedes was second. Mercdes had the cars with the highest maximum speed in the race, and they had five racers against Peugeot’s three ; but they had not got front-wheel brakes, and they had not got Georges Boillot. The race was for twenty laps of the Lyons course, and on the end of the seventeenth Boillot still held the lead ; and then on the next lap Lautenschlager got past him, but it was still only a matter of seconds between them, and as the two rivals departed on their last lap, the Peugeot supporters still hoped that Boillot might win. But as they counted off
the seconds no Boillot appeared, for in his last desperate endeavour to overtake Lautenschlager, his Peugeot had broken its propellor shaft. Thus ended Georges Boillot’s attempt to win the Grand Prix for Peugeot three years in succession ; and as if the French and Germans had decided to fight out the battle of the Lyons Grand Prix in sterner manner, within a few weeks there followed the war. Georges Boillot joined up with the French air force, and, in a fight with seven German aeroplanes was shot down and killed ; and thus perished a gallant driver, whose memory will live long in the annals of motor racing. In the race at Lyons, Goux had finished fourth and Rigal seventh, and although of course, the war put an end to all racing in Europe, the scene of activity was moved to America. The 1915 Indianapolis race was for cars with engines up to 4.9 litres (300 cubic inches), and three Peugeots started in it. The first which was
driven by Dario Resta was one of the 1914 Grand Prix cars, the second, which had B. Burman at the wheel was another of the same type, but with the stroke increased to 180 mms., making the capacity 4844 c.c., while the third was one of the 3-litre racers, and was driven by Babcock. In the race, Resta’ s car proved to be the fastest, but after a hard struggle he had to be content with second place behind Ralph de Palma on a 1914 Grand Prix Mercedes. The little 3-litre Peugeot fell out with a cracked cylinder, but Burman on the third car finished sixth.
Thus Peugeot suffered another defeat at the hands of Mercedes, but their revenge came in the 1916 race, when Resta brought his Peugeot in first, averaging 84.48 m.p.h.
During 1917 and 1918, America also was engaged in the war, and it was not until 1919 that the next Indianapolis race was held. This time the race was again for 300 cubic inch cars, and two of the 41-1itre Peugeots were entered with Howard Wilcox and Jules Goux as their drivers. The third Peugeot was a 4-cylinder car with bore and stroke of 75 x 140 mms. (2475 c.c.) 4-valves per cylinder and two overhead camshafts. This Car had been built for the 1914 Coupe de l’Auto Voiturette race, which was for cars up to 2,500 c.c., and which was not run Owing to the war. It was driven in the race by Georges Boillot’s younger brother Andre, who had only been waiting in 1914 to finish his period of military service to take his place in the Peugeot team. He had had however to wait five years for his chance, and he was not able to finish the race within the time limit owing to incessant tyre trouble. In the meantime however, Howard Wilcox on the big Peugeot took the lead near the beginning of the race and finally finished first, averaging 87.12 m.p.h. ; while Jules Goux on the second Peugeot finished third.
The first post-war European race was the Targa Florio which was run in Sicily in November, 1919. For this race Andre Boillot and his 21-1itre Peugeot was entered, and he was accompanied by M. Revile, a French amateur, who had purchased a similar car in 1914 and had had to wait until 1919 for a chance to race it. The fastest car in the race was a 5-litre Ballot driven by Rene Thomas, but Boillot soon showed that he lacked none of that wonderful skill his brother had possessed, and after driving throughout like a demon, he finally came down the straight to the finishing line on his last lap leading well on time. The road, however, was barred by spectators who had invaded the course, and Boillot applied his brakes hard, spun round three times on the road which was wet and greasy, and finished up facing the wrong way, ten yards from the finishing line. He crossed it in reverse, and immediately was met with a cry that his car would be disqualified for so doing. Boillot, who had got out was lifted back into his car, drove thirty yards down the road, turned round and finished forwards ; and then utterly exhausted, collapsed in his seat, murmuring ” c’est pour la France.”
Three years later he gained for Peugeot another great success on the same course. For the 1922 Coppa Florio two Peugeots were entered with sleeve valve engines of 95 x 135 mms. bore and stroke (3828 c.c.) in racing chassis, with Andre Boillot and Bequet as their drivers.
Their chief rivals were the 5-litre Sunbeams, but Boillot soon got the lead and finally won by over an hour, averaging 37.5 m.p.h., a considerable increase on the 34.2 m.p.h., which he had attained in 1919. Bequet on the other Peugeot finished third.
During the same year, Peugeot started on their career in touring car races in which they have won some of their greatest post-war victories.’ The 1922 Touring Grand Prix was held at Strasbourg, and three Peugeots were entered with engines similar to those used in the Coppa Florio. They were driven by Boillot, Artault and Pean, in the race which was on a limited fuel consumption basis, and after a keen fight with the Voisins, Boillot finished fourth and Artault sixth. The petrol tank on Pean,’s car sprung a leak during the race, and as of course he was unable to take on any more spirit, he was unable to finish.
In the 1923 race at Tours however the Peugeots were more successful. The race this time was divided into three classes—for two-, four-, and five-seaters, of which the two larger classes were allowed 28.3 m.p.g. and 18.8 m.p.g. respectively. In the five-seater class Peugeot entered three cars of the same type as had run the year before, with Andre Boillot, and A. and E. Morillon as their drivers ; while in the 4-seater division three Peugeots started with sleeve-valve engines of 80 x 124 mms. (2483 c.c.), driven by Cabaillet, Bateau and Bourret. The race proved a triumph for Peugeot, as the cars secured a grand slain in each class, Boillot averaging 59.94 m.p.h., and Cabaillot 42.5 m.p.h.
After this success two of the 18 h.p. 4-litre cars were entered for the San Sebastian touring Grand Prix and were driven by Cabaillot and Andre Boillot ; but neither of them were able to finish the race. The three 18 h.p. cars also started in the Georges Boillot Cup race at Boulogne that year, but only the one driven by A. Morillon finished, in fourth place.
In 1924 was run the final for the Florio Cup, as the trophy was to go definitely to the firm who had won it the greatest number out of the seven races held since 1904. Peugeot, owing to Boillot’s win in 1922 were in the running for it, and three cars of the same type as had proved victorious before, were entered, with Blillot Foresti and Dauvergne as their drivers. The race was run in conjunction with the Targa Florio, four rounds of the Madonie circuit counting for the latter, and five for the Coppa. The Peugeots were fast, but suffered from tyre troubles, and by the end of the four rounds for the Targa, their leading car driven by Boillot was sixth. He finished the final round fourth, however, with Foresti seventh and Dauvergne twelfth. The race was won by Mercedes, and as this firm had not won before, the cup had now been won once each by seven firms. A second final had therefore to be held in 1925, and for this four Peugeots of the same type were entered, with Andre Boillot, Louis Wagner, Christian Dauvergne, and Louis Rigal, who is a brother of Victor Rigal who had formed one of the Peugeot team before the war, as their drivers. At the end of the first round they were first, second, third and fifth, but after this their tyre troubles began again, and in the end Wagner and Boillot finished second and third in the Targa, while the other two cars did not finish the race. Boillet,
however, had been leading at the end of the three rounds which counted for the Florio Cup, and so the Peugeot firm got permanent possession of the Trophy. In true sporting spirit, however, they determined to put up the cup again for competition, on condition that it was raced for alternately in France and Italy.
In the meantime Peugeot had been contintiing their successes in touring car events. For the 1924 Touring Grand Prix at Lyons, three 18 h.p. Peugeots were again entered in the 5-seater class, to be driven by Boillot, Dauvergne and Cabaillot. The first part of the competition consisted of a midnight high speed trial, and during this event Dauvergne’s Peugeot broke a petrol pipe and so was unable to start in the race proper. Just before the latter, however, Cabaillot was taken ill, and so Dauvergne replaced him on the second Peugeot. During the race, one of the wheels on Boillot’a Peugeot collapsed, and his back axle was too bad y damaged to continue. Dauvergne, however, went on and won the race at an average of 55.9 m.p.h.
In 1925 the race was held at Montlhery and again three Peugeots started, with Andre Boillot, Louis Wagner and Louis Rigal as their drivers. Wagner fell out during the race, but Boillot got home first, with Louis Rigal third in the 5-litre class.
Two of the Targa Florio type cars were entered for this event again in 1926 and were driven by Boillot and Wagner. The latter, however, had to retire early in the race, leaving Wagner to finish alone in sixth place. There being no Touring Grand Prix in 1926, two 18 h.p. Peugeots were entered in the Grand Prix d’Endurance at le Mans, and were driven respectively by Boillot and Rigal, and Wagner and Dauvergne. For the first part of the race one of these cars looked like supplying the ultimate winner, until the worst of bad luck overtook each of them in turn. Wagner’s car after stopping at the pits was found to have a discharged battery owing
to a fuse having blown, and the starter was unable to get the engine going ; as no other means of doing so was allowed by the rules, the car had to be withdrawn. Then the windscreen broke on Boillot’s car, and as the rules did not allow it to continue without one, it too had to be withdrawn.
They had their revenge, however, in the Belgian 24-hour race held at Spa, in which the same two cars started, and although Wagner’s fell out during the night, Boillot and Rigal won the race by covering 1425.5 miles in the 24 hours, an average of 59.4 m.p.h. over the difficult Spa circuit. The two cars also started in the San Sebastian Touring Grand Prix, one being driven by Boillot, and the other by Rigal and Sene, who had driven with Wagner at Spa, and finished first and second in the 5-litre class. Their final triumph of the year came at Monza, where two cars were driven in the 24-hour Italian touring Grand Prix by Boillot and Rigal, and finished first and second, the former averaging 67.7 m.p.h., and beating the le Mans record by more than 38 miles Sixth place in the race was gained by Camuzet driving a little Peugeot of 51 x 88 mms. bore and stroke (719 c.c.) which averaged 40.9 m.p.h. for the 24 hours. This little car has since shown more of its paces, as three of them scored a grand slam in their class in the recent Brescia 1,000 miles race.
Andre Boillot started once more in the 1927 Targa Florio race on a sleeve-valve Peugeot, and succeeded in finishing fourth. This year, however, has marked an epoch in the history of Peugeot, for in July two Peugeots appeared for the first time since the war in a French event for racing cars, and one of them in the hands of Andre Boillot succeeded in carrying off the Coupe de la Commission Sportive of the A.C.F. As usual Peugeot was victorious, and we may look forward to seeing them in the most important races ofthe coming seasons.