An ancient Peugeot L45 race car has smashed auction records for the brand, after selling at auction for an astonishing £5.5 million. The 104-year-old racer, dubbed 'the father of all race cars', was built at a time when France led the way in car production and innovation.
The L45 used a revolutionary (at the time!) 4.5-litre engine which pumped out 112bhp. That gave it a top speed of over 100mph, ample performance to make it one of the more successful cars of its time – and ensured that jealous rivals would immediately begin to copy its design.
This particular example justifies its massive price tag thanks to a totally documented history with no gaps. It's never needed restoration, meaning it remains in a highly original state – and is chassis number one. A more perfect example you couldn't hope to find, not that you'd be able to – the only other remaining car is secure in a Florida collection.
The car was shipped from France to the US at the outbreak of World War One, where it was raced at Indianapolis. After its racing career ended, the car was purchased by farmer Lindley Bothwell in 1949, and it's remained in his family collection ever since.
Rupert Banner, vice-president of motoring at Bonhams, said: "We are delighted with the outcome.
"We're grateful for the confidence placed in us by the Bothwell family trustees and pleased to see the strength in the market.
"Tremendously historic and full of provenance, the significance of this race car cannot be overstated... it is one of the most original and pure racing cars of this era we have ever had the pleasure of offering."