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Darracq AX – the original 2-seater car from the early XNUMXth century

Darracq AX – the original 2-seater car from the early XNUMXth century
If we go back 120 years, we will see a completely different auto industry. Yes, in those days the transport industry was just taking its first modest steps. The designs created, by today's standards, were more than primitive. Despite this, at the beginning of the twentieth century there were interesting specimens, one of which we will tell you about now.

It is clear that in those days only members of royal families, heads of state or very rich people could afford to buy a newfangled motorized carriage. And European production, for the most part, was concentrated in countries such as France or the UK.

Darracq AX – оригинальный 2-местный автомобиль начала ХХ векаIn a beautiful color - the Darracq AX. Photo: youtube.com

One of the enthusiasts of this trend was Alexandre Darracq (1855-1931), who was closely associated with both countries. He was born in France and by 1904 produced every tenth car produced in this country. He had to act not only as a transport industrialist, but also as an investor or engineer.

Talented French designer

The future businessman began by learning to draw. Later, in his younger years, he worked in the clothing industry. Here his design talent first manifested itself, which resulted in the invention of the original machine. Subsequently, it even became an exhibit at the Paris Exhibition of 1889.

Later, he organized a company, eventually coming to produce personal vehicles that were popular at that time. He started with bicycles and motorcycles, reaching a more serious direction at the beginning of the twentieth century - the design and assembly of the first cars. But his main passion was rotary engines, which he tried to use in each of his models from Darracq & Cie.

One of the most famous creations of the talented Frenchman is the Darracq AX car, produced from 1900 to 1907. This model was created primarily for participation in sports competitions of that time.

Darrak achieved good results thanks to two aspects applied in the technological process: the use of pressed steel as a base for the manufacture of the chassis and the partial abandonment of manual labor. Instead, assembly on industrial equipment was used for the first time.

The most surprising thing is that the businessman himself was not a fan of cars and rarely got behind the wheel. He can most likely be considered a talented theorist, who was more interested in the technical process of production rather than the final result. Nevertheless, the models he created were the authors of speed records on a solid surface in 1904/1905. During the same period, they won several major competitions, including the famous American Vanderbilt Cup (second and third editions of 1905/1906).

Rear of Darracq AX. Photo: youtube.com

Such notable successes had a positive impact on the image of the company and its owner. The business expanded, bringing in licensing partnerships with English manufacturers. Unfortunately, Darrac's stubborn desire to promote the idea of ​​a rotary engine led to sad consequences.

By 1904, control was in the hands of British investors; the Frenchman only owned a certain stake, retaining the director's chair. In June 1912, circumstances forced him to retire prematurely. And in the 20s, Darrac’s name completely disappeared from the name of the company, which no longer belonged to the French businessman.

Darracq AX – like a memory of the French manufacturer

But the memory of the talented manufacturer and designer unexpectedly reached our times. This is all thanks to a surviving example of a 1907 Darracq AX. Of course, the ancient design, which fell into the hands of modern enthusiasts, was in a deplorable and completely inoperative state. But desire and hard work were able to radically transform it, returning its former chic and luster.

Small luggage compartment Darracq AX. Photo: youtube.com

When carrying out restoration work, the main task was to preserve the original elements. This applied to the main parts of the crew structure, color design, and design solutions. The car also retained its original power unit with the following characteristics:

✅ two-cylinder version
✅ use of water cooling
✅ rated power – 10-12 l. With

Among other things, when starting this car, a crank was not required (although it was there, just in case). The designers initially provided for the installation of an electric engine start, outlandish for the early 20th century, on the excellent Edwardian model. At the time, this was a significant technical breakthrough and was not at all taken for granted.

After the reconstruction, which extended to 95% of the elements of the retro car, the modest engine works quite powerfully and reliably. And the crew itself received an almost pristine appearance and is fully ready to participate in VCC competitions. Also worth noting are the restored Darracq AX design elements:

✅ overall rich red color
✅ wheel spokes - in the same tone
✅ highlighting gold accents in the external design
✅ luxurious interior with green leather seats

The restored example perfectly shows that luxury design was considered par for the course at the beginning of the last century. After all, as already mentioned, at that time the car was not mass transport. Only a select few could own it. It is clear that a special combination of design and set of design elements was created for representatives of high society:

✅ seat upholstery with buttons
✅ stylish wings
✅ use of brass in a car
✅ foot and hand brake

If we return to the arrangement of the power unit, here you can find several more interesting solutions from manufacturers. The fact that to start it you only need to pull a compact lever is combined with a number of progressive elements:

✅ throttle
✅ water pump
✅ wet sump

All this “stuffing” was justified by the car’s focus on sporting purposes. Well, in everyday use it also always looked great. This ensured, among other things, a pleasant appearance.

Luxurious seats and steering. Photo: youtube.com

For example, a comfortable double seat made it possible to take your spouse or friend with you on a trip. Of course, the body had an open design (which was the gold standard at the beginning of the last century) and right-hand drive.

Other structural elements

The spoked pneumatic tires installed on the machine can be considered an excellent solution. As do the wide fenders that cover all four wheels of the structure. The compact engine is located under the front hood with stylish gold piping. But in the rear there is a small luggage compartment provided under a curved lid.

Up front, the Darracq AX has just one large headlight located on the right side. Let us remember that at that time there were no strict active safety requirements, including the presence of a pair of headlights and dimensions. But there is a horn-type sound signal, conveniently installed under the driver’s right hand.

Tiny Darracq AX engine. Photo: youtube.com

Everyone understands that today one cannot expect any super speed results from this archaic design. Nevertheless, its engine rumbles confidently, giving the impression of sufficient power and traction. Therefore, such a car may be quite suitable for participation in retro competitions. But in his “age” group he is unlikely to find enough competitors. After all, the same age as this “Methuselah” has long been turned into scrap metal, having undergone repeated processing.


Photos used: youtube.com

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