1906 Darracq Type XX Two-Seater


  • Formerly exhibited in two French motor museums
  • Cosmetically and mechanically restored in the 1990s
  • Described by the vendor as ‘perfect’
  • Very rare – one of four XXs known to survive

The Appeal

Surely it is only necessary to take one look at a gleaming Edwardian like this Darracq to see its appeal? Of all the beautiful cars made throughout history, never has there been anything so quaintly charming as those of the Veteran and Edwardian age with their bright brass lamps, chuffing engines and amusing bulb horns.

Of all the hundreds of early car-makers, most disappeared after a few years, but a few really prospered and became world-renowned for their superior machines. Established by Alexandre Darracq in Suresnes, France, in 1896, the Société A. Darracq fell into that latter category. From making simple quadricycles in the late 19th century, by 1906 it had succeeded in winning the coveted Vanderbilt Cup with a 120hp racer, and set a flying-kilometre speed record with a specially-made 22½-litre V8 sprint car piloted by Algernon Lee Guinness to 117.66mph.

Meanwhile, the buying public could choose from a selection of single-, twin- and four-cylinder models, encompassing everything from sweet 8hp voiturettes to a grand 5.9-litre 28hp model and a prodigious 70hp replica of the 1904 Gordon Bennett racers. It might even be claimed that Darracq has done more to stimulate interest in early vehicles than any other manufacturer, thanks to the starring role of a 1904 12hp in the much-loved 1953 film Genevieve.

While the bigger cars were good for publicity, Darracq’s survival depended on sales of the smaller cars like this lovely 8hp Type XX, which were reasonably low-priced compared to other cars of the time. However, survivors are now rare with just three others known: one in Italy, one in France and one in Belgium’s Mahy Collection.

This beautiful example is typical of its breed and promises to be a delightful car for shows and rallies. Contrary to the misconception that early cars are never driven, there are numerous opportunities to use them throughout the year with likeminded enthusiasts in Britain’s Veteran Car Club, France’s Club des Teuf-Teuf, the Horseless Carriage Club of America, and many others around the world. In excellent cosmetic and mechanical condition following a very well-executed 1990s restoration, it could be the perfect car for anyone looking to experience motoring from a more gentle and elegant age.

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The History and Paperwork

  • Known to have been displayed at a motor museum in Reims, before moving to a smaller museum in Vendée which has now closed
  • In the 1990s, it was sold as a non-runner to a Parisian enthusiast, a retired mechanics teacher, who lovingly restored it to running order and a more presentable appearance
  • Featured in a 1990s television adaptation of Les Thibault
  • Purchased by the present owner from the restorer in 2007, and now reluctantly offered for sale for health reasons
  • Offered for sale with the French ownership documents, a collection of invoices, a 1911 Darracq sales brochure and a photocopy of a magazine article about a 1905 Darracq 8hp

The Interior

  • Beautifully restored condition
  • All gauges and controls in working order
  • Sold with a tonneau cover

With a button-backed leather seat for two, a wooden dash and a few strictly necessary controls, there isn’t much to the interior, but there doesn’t need to be. What’s there is sufficiently functional, not to mention beautiful and very comfortable. The upholstery still looks as good as new, and the varnished wood of the dash and steering wheel is a fine sight to behold. Where there’s brass, it has all been polished to a high shine, and it even extends to a very early odometer by R. & L. Picard of Paris.

Thoughtful provision has been made for some luggage space, with the inclusion of a large wicker trunk behind the seats and a period-appropriate umbrella holder, so you ought to be able carry everything you need for a day out or weekend rally. A canvas tonneau cover is also included, so the seats may be protected from wet weather when the car is parked or being transported.

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The Exterior

  • Completely repainted in the 1990s
  • Some light patina across the brass
  • Includes a removable windscreen

Tastefully finished in burgundy and primrose, two colours which complement one another extremely well, the Darracq’s appearance is quite exquisite. The vendor describes the paint and brass as ‘perfect’, with no dents or rust, and we concur that it looks that way to us. Naturally, it has always been garaged and protected by an indoor cover. Of course, there is some slight cosmetic wear around the parts which experience shocks or abrasion, such as the springs and hood rests, but that is only to be expected. For a car that gets used and enjoyed, it is as good as it could conceivably be. Some of the brass parts display a lovely patina, which only enhances their attractiveness.

The hood appears to have been renewed at the time of the restoration, because it still appears in like-new condition. Weather protection is very good for 1906 because, in addition to the hood, there is also a removable pare brise (windscreen) manufactured by Huillier, another Parisian firm.

All the period equipment you’d want is present and correct, such as the acetylene lamps, kerosene lanterns and serpentine bulb horn. Another attractive feature is the small but well-detailed eagle mascot on the radiator cap.

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The Mechanics

  • Powered by an 8hp twin-cylinder engine
  • Said to be in perfect working order
  • Will sit happily at around 30mph
  • Oil freshly changed

From what we can see, the engine, back axle, suspension and all the other mechanical components seem to be in excellent condition, so we expect the Darracq to drive beautifully with a characteristic teuf-teuf, as they say in France.

The vendor says of it, “It starts very easily on the crank and the steering gears turn very well. The steering shows no play. The mechanics are in perfect condition. It runs at around 30mph and is in its original configuration. The engine’s oil change has just been done.”

Anyone who is daunted by the thought of driving a car which relies on technology which is so unfamiliar today ought not to be put off – it’s very simple once you’ve taken time to acquaint yourself with it. The pedals are conventionally arranged with the throttle on the right, and only occasional adjustment of the ignition advance-retard will have to be made via the lever on the steering wheel. Changing gears by double declutching should become as second nature to those who aren’t already practised at it, and the brakes, which we believe operate on the rear wheels and transmission, should be perfectly effective provided one drives sensibly. When it comes down to maintenance, these Veterans are, of course, far simpler to work on than later cars.

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The Summary

This Darracq Type XX embodies all that is delightful about Veteran and Edwardian cars. Attractively coach-painted and proudly bejewelled with brass, it does not so much shine as twinkle. Having seen only light use after being restored to an extremely high standard, it surely constitutes one of the best Edwardian voiturettes currently on the market. It deserves to be shown, driven and enjoyed, so place your bids now.

Notice to bidders

This item is sold on an ‘As is Where is’ basis. The condition of this item is the opinion of the seller and may differ from your own opinion. Photos and listing descriptions are for guidance purposes only*.** Car & Classic do not warrant listing accuracy. Full inspection is recommended. Viewings are at the seller’s discretion. Buyer is responsible for delivery and collection of any item purchased.*

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1906
  • Make Darracq
  • Model XX
  • Colour Red/Gold
  • Odometer 25,290 Kilometres
  • Engine size
Auction Details
  • Seller Type Private
  • Town Nouvelle Aquitaine
  • Location International
  • Country France
Bidding history
14 bids from 7 bidders
  • michel•••• €40,000 30/05/23
  • richard•••• €38,000 29/05/23
  • gaudiss•••• €36,000 29/05/23
  • MikeMik•••• €35,250 29/05/23
  • richard•••• €35,000 27/05/23
  • michel•••• €30,000 27/05/23
  • richard•••• €28,000 26/05/23
  • gaudiss•••• €25,000 26/05/23
  • richard•••• €24,000 25/05/23
  • gaudiss•••• €20,000 25/05/23

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