It is always good to see an original unmolested car and this lovely 16 hp 1914 Darracq fits the bill perfectly. As well as a VSCC eligibility document it comes with VCC dating certificate 2946 which is devoid of any “non original items” comments and its OB3723 registration ties in geographically with its Heath Garages of Birmingham supplier’s plate. As far as I can see the only variations from its 1914 specification are coil ignition and flashing indicators!
The Type V14’s introduction in 1913 was vital for Darracq as it basically saved the company from extinction. In 1911 they had started making engines using rotary valves instead of poppet valves which turned out to be so unreliable that they caused major problems for the company. As a result founder Alexandre Darracq had to resign and a completely new management team was appointed which included Owen Clegg who had masterminded Rover’s very successful 12 hp range. Much of his Rover experience was incorporated in the V14 and Darracq were so keen to promote it as being different from their previous cars that it is described as “The new Darracq” on its maker’s plate and in their advertising.
The car is to my mind in ideal condition in that it is very presentable without being so shiny that you wouldn’t want to take it out in the rain and it exudes a lovely feeling of solidity and reliability. The coachwork is structurally sound with nice paintwork, the front seat and the dickey seat leather is very good as are the hood, hood bag, wheels and tyres .
The car's electricals are all original C A Vandervell (CAV) including its electric starter but the engine starts so readily on the handle that it seems a shame to resort to pressing the button! This also saves the battery in case you might want to use the electric lights though it does have a dynamo which shows a charge when switched on. There is a set of individual light switches on the CAV control box which also has an ammeter and a voltmeter plus the dashboard carries a Watford speedometer and a Watford clock (which works!)
The Darracq-SU sloper carburetted 2.95 litre four cylinder monobloc engine sounds very good, pulls well and doesn’t smoke. The Ferodo lined cone clutch is light and smooth and after a little practice the four speed and reverse gear box is easy to use and very quiet, in fact the whole car is easy to use and quiet! It also rides well, steers nicely and stops as you might expect an Edwardian to stop.
It comes with a nice history file with interesting information on Darracq V14s in general and this car in particular. There are various invoices including one from March 2019 for a really comprehensive service which came to £2,400! There is also a photocopy of an owners handbook and a buff card logbook dating from the 1950s where it is described in very neat handwriting as a Clegg-Darracq!
In summary this is a lovely original well maintained and well preserved Edwardian Darracq which is a pleasure to look at and to drive - daily motoring is an inviting prospect and I suspect it will make a really good touring car!