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Darracq 12-HP Genevieve

This is the car that played the lead in the 1953 film ‘Genevieve’.

In the film this 1904 Darracq is the hobby of barrister Alan McKim, whose friend challenges him to a race during the annual London to Brighton Run. An interesting detail is that actor John Gregson, who played McKim, does steer the car in the film, but couldn’t actually drive.

The owner of the Darracq at the time was the Englishman Norman Reeves. He had restored the car and named it ‘Annie’, but when the Darracq was selected to appear in the film, its director Henry Cornelius rechristened it ‘Genevieve’, after the patron saint of Paris, the city where the car was built. The film was a resounding success and in 1953 the Darracq took part in the ‘real’ London to Brighton Run, attracting much interest along the way. Dutch rally driver Maurice Gatsonides, who had won the Monte Carlo Rallye earlier in the year, was behind the wheel.

The Darracq itself was discovered among piles of junk on an estate in East London shortly after WWII and purchased for £25. The owner later found a two-seater body, but had neither time nor money to restore the car. He sold the Darracq to Norman Reeves, who finished the restoration. Eventually Reeves got tired of all the publicity surrounding the Darracq and sold it to an Australian friend who exhibited the car in a museum for about 40 years. The car was acquired by the Louwman Museum in the 1990s and has since been a regular and popular participant in the London to Brighton Run.

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