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Alexandre Darracq

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Alexandre Darracq, (November 10 1855-1931), was the founder of Darracq.

Born Pierre Alexandre Darracq in Bordeaux, France, of Basque parents, he trained as a draftsman at the Arsenal in Tarbes, in the Hautes-Pyrénées département before establishing the Gladiator Cycle Company in 1891. He sold his very successful company in 1896 for a substantial amount and for a short time went into the business of manufacturing electric cars as well as acquiring an interest in Millet motor bicycles. He established Automobiles Darracq S.A. in Suresnes, near Paris where he pioneered the making of the chassis from pressed steel and the use of production machinery in place of hand labor. Despite his establishing an automobile business, Alexander Darracq was a man who didn't like driving cars or even being driven in them. For him, it was just pursuing his interest in manufacturing and making money.

By 1904, Darracq was producing more than ten percent of all automobiles in France. His company became involved with Grand Prix motor racing, winning a number of major races, including the Vanderbilt Cup in the United States and twice setting a new land speed record in 1904 and 1905. Racing success raised the image of the Darracq marque so that he was able to expand to England and form licensing partnerships and raising substantial capital through share issues in Italy with Cavaliere Ugo Stella, in Germany with Adam Opel as well as in Vitoria, in the Basque region of Spain.

In 1912, Alexandre Darracq sold out to a British concern and pursued other interests including running the Casino at Deauville. After World War I, he chose to retire to the French Riviera where he invested with the Belgian interests that took over the troubled luxury Hotel Negresco in Nice. He died in 1931 at his home in Monte Carlo and was interred next to his wife Louise (1850-1920) in the family mausoleum in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

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