1902: Mors driven by W.K. Vanderbilt / H. Fournier / Augiers
4 cyl. Petrol
Bore x Stroke:
140 x 150 mmm
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.
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
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.
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.