1922 Peugeot Grand Prix Racer
Claimed power: 27hp @ 5,000rpm
Top speed: 100mph (approx.)
Engine: 495cc air-cooled SOHC parallel twin
Weight (dry): 286lbs
Ask your local bike trivia champions when the first double overhead cam eight-valve vertical-twin was produced and by whom. Chances are they won’t even get the country right — and they probably won’t believe you when you tell them the answer: the 500cc 1913 Peugeot Grand Prix, designed by the brilliant Swiss engineer Ernest Henry.
A dual overhead cam twin with four valves per cylinder back in 1913? Believe it or not, it’s true. Peugeot, whose products were renowned before the First World War for their engineering sophistication and technical daring, celebrated its 200th birthday in 2010, and along with manufacturing automobiles was also one of the pioneering firms in the evolution of the motorcycle. Engineer Ernest Henry also produced the world’s first desmodromic engine for Peugeot’s car division, which also built the first-ever engine with five valves per cylinder, all the way back in 1920!
Peugeot lays valid claim as the world’s oldest surviving motorcycle marque, as the company displayed its first bike — the 1.5hp Motobicyclette — at the Paris Exhibition in 1900. Peugeot originally used supplier engines to power its way into the fledgling motorcycle industry, but in 1906 began using its own large capacity (726cc and 994cc) V-twin engines, essentially derived from their car designs. These proved so powerful and reliable that Peugeot’s reputation swiftly grew outside France, resulting in deals to supply other manufacturers with Peugeot engines.
Read more about the Peugeot Grand Prix Racer in the July/August 2011 issue of Motorcycle Classics. Contact Customer Service at (800) 880-7567 or contact us by email.