Opel returns to Lyon for centenary demo of 1914 Grand Prix

Article by Christian A., on May 7, 2014

A century after Opel participated in the Grand Prix de Lyon, the carmaker is returning for the event, taking part in the centenary demonstration with the same Grand Prix cars it used 100 years ag with the participation of the Opel “Green Monster” powered by a 12.3-liter engine providing 260 hp and 700 Nm torque.

The 1914 Grand Prix de Lyon is comprised of cars from 14 carmakers from six countries – all seeking to complete and conquer this 750-kilometer race. Opel’s cars for the 1914 Grand Prix de Lyon were piloted by Carl Jörns, the undisputed number 1 at Rüsselsheim, and Emil Erndtmann and Franz Breckheimer.

All three Opel drivers were accompanied by ‘riding mechanics,’ who were tasked to monitor the meters and gauges. The riding mechanics were also tasked to hike fuel pressure in the tank with a hand pump if necessary and to provide assistance during pit stops while dealing with any unscheduled occurrences or unforeseen incidents.

According to the new regulations implemented in 1914, Grand Prix cars should be powered by 4.5-liter engines and should have a weight limit of 1,100 kilograms. Back then Opel cars were also bearing impressive technology, as they are powered by engines having four valves per cylinder with a vertical drive shaft and overhead camshaft.

The race also had drivers use a universal-shaft drive. The Opel racecars feature torpedo-shaped bodies that allowed them to reach a maximum speed of 160 km/h. Only their rear wheels had brake drums that were activated by a hand-brake lever. There is also a foot-pedal brake for a small drum on the drive shaft.

The cars also have non-synchronized four-speed gearbox. Providing support for Opel’s drivers was Friedrich Opel, son of founder Adam. The Grand Prix took place for specially prepared public roads closed to public – spanning 36.7 km from start to finish. That meant that drivers had to make 20 laps before they could complete the race. [source: Opel]

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