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Which Car First Broke the 60-Mile Per Hour Barrier?

As of 2020, the SSC Tuatara is recorded to be the faster car in the world, with a top speed of 316.11 miles per hour. Today, beating the 60 miles per hour or 100 kilometers per hour mark is not as impressive. But considering the technology we had back then, it is pretty surprising.

The first car to break the 60 miles per hour barriers was an electric car that was built in 1899. The vehicle was manufactured by Compagnie Internationale des transports automobiles électriques and driven by the Camille Jenatzy.

The Never Contented

The first car to go over 60 miles per hour was the La Jamais Contente or The Never Contented. It was a Belgian electric car with a torpedo-shaped body manufactured by Compagnie Internationale des transports automobiles électriques. The driver sat atop the vehicle, which did affect the aerodynamic design but still worked efficiently. (Source: La Jamais Contente)

Who Drove The Never Contented?

Camille Jenatzy isn’t as popular as other world-renowned drivers, and that is truly unfortunate. He is the first-ever to drive a car over 60 miles per hour, setting a world land speed record in 1899. What’s more interesting is that he achieved this speed using an electric car that ran on batteries, and he built The Never Contented himself. (Source: Drive)

Why Was the Car Built?

When motor cars started to make their way through society, people began to crave speed. This gave birth to the first rivalry in automotive history.

Jenatzy and his arch-nemesis Count Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat waged an all-out war in the pursuit of speed. The Frenchman started the whole thing in December 1898 when he drove his electric-powered Jeantaud, which had an average speed of about 40 miles per hour. Chasseloup-Laubat entered the record books as the first world land speed record holder.

It didn’t take long for Jenatzy to respond. With his GCA Dogcart, he beat Chasseloup-Laubat by a mile! Of course, Chasseloup-Laubat was not ready to back down. He hopped behind the wheel of his Jeantaud and clocked in 43 miles per hour. Jenatzy beat the record ten days later with a V-max of 50 miles per hour.

Chasseloup-Laubat took several weeks to respond. He needed to modify his Jeantaud and make it run faster. On March 4, 1899, he came out with his new Jeantaud Duc Profilée and beat the record by 7.6 miles per hour. It was at this point where Jenatzy knew he would need to build a better car.

Jenatzy went to work on the La Jamais Contente (The Never Contented). The car featured a torpedo-shaped body made of a light alloy composed of aluminum, magnesium, and tungsten. The sleek and aerodynamic design was meant to improve its speed, but since Jenatzy’s body was sticking out of the car, this defeated the purpose of configuring aerodynamics into the equation.

On April 29, 1899, Jenatzy drove the La Jamais Contente to break Chasseloup-Laubat’s record. He accomplished his goal and held the record for the first car to have reached the 60 miles per hour or 100 kilometers per hour mark. (Source: Drive)

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