After a first experience in engine design for the navy, the young engineer Ernest Henry was hired by Peugeot in 1911. He joined the Charlatans team where he listened to the innovative ideas of the pilots.
Henry conceived a synthesis of two techniques : the double overhead camshaft and the four valves per cylinder. At that time the organizers of the competitions were managing to limit the volumes. The Peugeot cars equipped with the engine designed by Henry are the L76 (7.6 liters) and the L3 (3 liters) in 1912, the L56 (5.6 liters) in 1913 and the L45 (4.5 liters) in 1914. In a ultimate challenge to the traditionalists of the company this L is for Lion.
Thanks to these innovations, the Peugeots of the Charlatans have a lighter chassis and a better handling. They begin to dominate the ACF competitions in France and then the 500 miles of Indianapolis.
The Peugeot-Henry engine is so far ahead of its competitors that the organizers of Indianapolis, fearing that the war in Europe reduces the appeal of their event, commission an American manufacturer to build replicas. Through that following Peugeot is the precursor of all modern car engines.
Two of these Peugeot cars survive. On November 11 in the house sale of the Bothwell collection near Los Angeles, Bonhams sells an L45 in an authenticity which is wonderful for a car of that time. Its chassis and engine are number 1 and the bodywork is original. Thanks to a progress in the technology of the tires it was timed at 165 km/h in 1949, an unprecedented speed for a car manufactured before the First World War.
This L45 is estimated $ 3M, lot 408. It was filmed in operation by a spectator at the 2011 Goodwood Festival of Speed. This video is shared on YouTube.
SOLD for $ 7.3M including premium