923 Peugeot 500 Grand Prix
French constructors in general - and
Peugeot in particular - have rarely done well in international competitions.
One notable exception was the string of victories won by the revolutionary
Peugeot Grand Prix twin-cylinders of 1914 to 1927.
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 I
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.