Photo ou archives : F-M. Dumas
500 Grand Prix -1923
Still modern after all these years
French constructors in general Â– and Peugeot in particular - have rarely done
well in international competitions. One notable exception was the string of victories won by the revolutionary Peugeots Grand Prix twin-cylinders of 1914 to 1927.
Technology in 1914
Just before the Great War Peugeot presented its first vertical twin, a fabulous 500cc with shaft-driven twin overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. In 1914, with direct drive only, this two-wheeled revolution set a new flying kilometer record of 75.8 mph with the well-known French racer Pean in the saddle.
France's Most Successful Motorbike
In 1920, the Rumanian engineer Antonescu developed the basic design along modern lines with a horizontally-split crankcase and a unit-construction three speed gearbox with a dry-plate clutch and chain transmission. This highly-successful 500 was replaced in 1923 by a new version with a single overhead camshaft and two valves per cylinder, developing 27 hp. With this machine, Pean covered the flying kilometer at 97.7 mph in 1923, then broke the 100mph barrier with a speed of 102.8 mph in 1924. Sadly, Peugeot ceased participating in international races in 1927, after establishing the finest run of victories ever achieved by a French marque, including the Grand Prix des Nations, the
Swiss GP, the Motorcycle Club of France GP and the Spanish GP. In all, twenty-one victories out of twenty-three races.
Engine: air-cooled 496cc (62x82mm ) vertical twin four-stroke (360Â° from 1923 to 1926 then 180Â° in 1927)
Power Rating: 27hp @ 5000rpm
Valves: twin overhead camshaft driven by shaft, 2 valves per cylinder
Fuel System: 1 carburetor
Transmission: 3 speeds hand change, chain drive
Suspension: girder forks (front); rigid (rear)
Brakes: drum (front/rear)
Maximum Speed: 103 mph (750cc version: 107 mph)
Restored by jean Nougier around a 1927 engine which has miraculously survived, the Grand Prix Peugeot is still capable of over 75 mph and is disconcertingly easy to ride.
Much more info about all Peugeot Grand Prix motorcycles in the book Â«Unusual MotorcyclesÂ» by FranÃ§ois-Marie Dumas - Haynes edition.