10.06.

1907: Spectacular Peking to Paris Rally in the Era of Early Cars

1907: Spectacular Peking to Paris Rally in the Era of Early Cars
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 10 June 1907
  • The winner was the Italian Prince Scipione Borghese in the Itala car. He arrived to Paris from Beijing in two months, 20 days before the driver who won second place.

One of the earliest long-distance automobile races began on this day. It was the Peking to Paris rally, held in 1907 – the time when the motor car was still a technical novelty in most parts of the world. 

The route of the 1907 Peking to Paris rally passed through the undeveloped parts of Mongolia and Siberia, so fuel for cars was transported by camels and distributed at certain points along the way.

A mitigating circumstance was that the route followed a telegraph line, so the public in Europe could be very well-informed about the progress of the race. Indeed, each car had one journalist as a passenger, who was in charge of monitoring the race.

Five teams were competing – three from France and one from Italy and the Netherlands. The cars had previously been shipped to Beijing on a boat and, on this day, they began their journey from there towards Paris.

There were no rules in the race, it only mattered which vehicle would be the first to arrive to Paris.

The winner was the Italian Prince Scipione Borghese in the Itala car. This was a model without a top, powered by a four-cylinder engine of 7,433 cubic centimeters. The engine developed 45 horsepower, which allowed the car a maximum speed of 95 kilometers per hour.

For this race, the Itala was equipped with large fuel tanks. As a side note, the Itala car company was from Turin and it manufactured vehicles from 1904 until 1935.

Prince Scipione Borghese arrived in Paris within two months, 20 days before the driver who won second place. The Prince belonged to one of the most respected Italian aristocratic families, from which the well-known Pope Paul V (born as Camillo Borghese) and several cardinals all stemmed.

Prince Scipione inherited numerous impressive titles, which in Italian went as follows: Don Scipione Borghese, 10th Principe di Sulmona, 10th Principe di Vivaro, 11th Principe di Rossano, 10th Principe di Montecompatri, 10th Duca di Poggio Nativo, 5th Duca di Canemorto e Castelchiodato, 10th Marchese di Mentana, Norma, Civitella di Pratica e Percile, 10th Conte di Vallinfreda, 10th Barone di Cropalati, Signore di Monteporzio, Olevano, Morlupo, Montefortino, Montorio in Valle, Cretone, Poggio Moriano, Petescia, Pozzaggia, Stabia, Stazzaro, Scarpa, Castelvecchio, Collepiccolo e Licenza, Principe Romano, Nobile Romano Coscritto, Patrizio di Napoli, Genova, Venezia Nobile di Corneto.

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