Arthur Duray was the first man to drive at more
than 80 miles an hour, no mean achievement when you
look at the bone-shaker in which he did it. Duray,
a large man belonging to the fur-coat brigade, was
the first to use the new Ostend road for record breaking,
and there he covered the measured kilometre in 26.8
seconds, much faster than the then-standing record
of 29 seconds held by the Mors.
This was an increase
of more than six miles an hour, or of the order of
eight per cent, and since it was achieved by what
was regarded as a peculiar car with its opposed-piston
engine there was a good deal of public interest and
But Duray was not content with his new
speed of 83.47 mph, and four months later was out
again to push the figure up to 84.73 mph, this time
at the old official road stretch at Dourdan.
The Gobron-Brillie featured an opposed-piston layout, but in Duray's
day a vast strap held the front of the pointed bonnet
in place and the centre section was heavily louvred,
while later drivers made a change in this arrangement
and, in doing so, found a little more speed.
was one of the first cars to appear with the stiffening
struts under the chassis, a feature of nearly all
Vintage cars of the 1920's. It was a rather ugly contraption,
with about 90 per cent of its length projecting in
front of the driver, who sat right over the rear wheels.
The Gobron-Brillie was famous for having eight pistons
in four cylinders, a feat achieved by an opposed-piston
layout. This was pretty advanced for 1903, particularly
as the monster produced 100 horse-power and ran on
a pretty potent fuel mixture (some commentators of
the time believing it to actually be pure alcohol).
the French Automobile Club may have started imposing
some record rules, fuel was one of the subjects they
had not yet tackled, so all was fair. The engine
sat at the front, and the power went back through
a gearbox to a countershaft driving the chains to
the rear axle.