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1902: Mors driven by W.K. Vanderbilt / H. Fournier / Augiers

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World Land Speed Record

Mors

1902
Country:
France
Engine:
4 cyl. Petrol
Weight:
1000 kg
Power:
60 bhp
Capacity:
9,232 cc
Bore x Stroke:
140 x 150 mmm
Transmission
4 speed
Top Speed:
76.08/76.60/77.13 mph
Mors

The Mors is most notable because it was the first petrol engined vehicle to take the world land speed record. It was also driven by the first American to come on the world record scene. He chose a model known as the Paris-Vienna, and made his successful attempt at Ablis near Chartres in August 1902.

His time was two-fifths of a second better than that set up by the steam-driver Serpollet along the Promenade des Anglais at Nice. The Mors was a 60 horse-power model and was really a road-racing model, not a vehicle specifically designed for speed in a straight line, as were later world record cars.

As a road car, the Mors carried with it a lot of superfluous weight in the form of brakes, suspension parts, and even coachwork, and for this reason Vanderbilt's effort was a particularly good one.

But for the same reason his record did not stand for long, once other drivers realised that a similar car could be modified specifically for record purposes and dispense with some of the road equipment necessary for the town-to-town races of the day, which were not abandoned until the disastrous Paris-Madrid race of 1904, which was stopped by the police at Bordeaux after a very heavy toll of casualties along the route.

Henry Fournier drove a similar car to that used only a few months earlier by Vanderbilt, a 60 horse-power Paris-Vienna Mors, but succeeded in making it go fractionally faster. Both cars carried the engine at the front driving the rear wheels by chain, with a big gilled -tube radiator low down in the front and an enormous starting handle projecting through it.

They had a coal-scuttle type bonnet later favoured by the Renault Brothers, and Fournier's car had louvres cut in the front of this bonnet. Vanderbilt favoured a strap round the bonnet-ahead of his time here, but Fournier dispensed with this. Curiously, Fournier's slightly faster car carried headlamps mounted on either side at the front of the car.

There were of course no windscreens on these cars, nor were there any mudguards covering the artillery-type wheels of the two-seater bodies. The driver sat on the fuel tank, and not only for this reason but for many others it took a brave man to drive at approaching 80 miles an hour with an exposed chain whizzing round under his right elbow.

Augieres used virtually the same car as that used by the two previous record-holders, Vanderbilt and Fournier. Fournier's record of  76.60 mph lasted only a matter of weeks, and Augieres came along in the same month, November 1902, and lopped off one-fifth of a second to put the speed up to 77.13 mph.

Also See:


Land Speed Record Drivers
Herbert Austin LSR Attempt
History Of The Land Speed Record
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