Guy Stagg

Magnificent men in their automobiles: the 1907 Peking-Paris rally

Kassia St Clair tells the gripping story of how competitors drove 15,000 km across mountains, desert and flooded rivers to prove the practicality of the early motor car

A map showing the route of the 1907 transcontinental motor rally [Alamy]

The age of the car was a long time coming. The 19th century belonged to the train and, to a lesser extent, the bicycle. Several prototype automobiles were built during this period, but by the end of the century the technology was still primitive. In 1899 a handicap race held in France pitted walkers, riders, cyclists, motorcyclists and drivers against one another.

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