May 19 2009

The 1907 Renault Vanderbilt Racers

The first Grand Prix was held on a 60-mile course near LeMans, France over a two-day period in June 1906. The winner was Ferenc Szisz in a new Renault Type AK powered by a large 13-liter, four-cylinder drive with a shaft drive. William K. Vanderbilt Jr. was so impressed with the performance of this racecar that he requested Renault to build smaller versions for him and his friends. A total of 10-15 Renault Vanderbilt Racers were produced with five known to exist today.

The above beautiful Renault Vanderbilt Racer is owned by Kirk Gibson of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Kirk reports “the engine is 7.4 litres, 35/45 hp and it runs very well.”

In October 2006, a Renault Vanderbilt Racer (originally owned by Harry Payne Whitney) from the collection of Otis Chandler was sold for $1.1 million by Gooding & Company.

Two original Renault Vanderbilt Racers can be seen at these autombile museums:

The Price Museum of Speed, Salt Lake City, Utah

The Owls Head Transportation Museum, Owls Head, Maine


Although the location of Vanderbilt's own racer is unknown, I was able to find this rare photo in my collection of Willie K. and his Renault.


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