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1933 Napier-Railton
Napier-Railton at Brooklands.jpg
The Napier-Railton, before a test run at Brooklands Museum, Weybridge
Body and chassis
Body styleSingle-seater
LayoutFR layout
Engine24 L Napier XIA W12 aero engine

The Napier-Railton is an aero-engined race car built in 1933, designed by Reid Railton to a commission by John Cobb, and built by Thomson & Taylor. It was driven by Cobb, mainly at the Brooklands race track where it holds the all-time lap record (143.44 mph (230.84 km/h)) which was set in 1935. The circuit was appropriated for military purposes during the Second World War, and never reopened in that form for racing. It has a W12 engine with 3 different exhaust systems.


Between 1933 and 1937, the Napier-Railton broke 47 world speed records at Brooklands, Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry and Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.[1]

The car is powered by the high compression version (6.1:1) (RAF specification) of the naturally aspirated Napier Lion, a W12 of 23.944 litres (1,461 cu in) capacity, producing 580 brake horse power at 2585 revolutions per minute (recorded at 5, 000ft - performance at ground level may be different).[citation needed] The 12 cylinders are in three banks of four (broad-arrow configuration), hence the triple exhaust system, and the engine has standard aerospace features such as dual magneto ignition. The non-synchromesh crash gearbox (named for the horrible noises caused by a mis-shift) has 3 ratios. The fuel tank, located in the boat-tail behind the driver, has a capacity of 65 gallons and fuel consumption was approximately 5 mpg. Although capable of 168 mph (270 km/h) the car has rear-wheel braking only.[2]

Postwar owners include Patrick Lindsay and Victor Gauntlett. The car was purchased by Brooklands Museum circa 1997 with the support of the UK's Heritage Lottery Fund and other donors. It is maintained in fully working order and is normally on display in one of the museum's 1930s motoring sheds. The car is run regularly and is usually present at the Goodwood Revival motor race meeting every September.

Further reading[edit]

  • Boddy, William (1966). The 1933 24-litre Napier-Railton. No. 28, Profile cars. Profile Publications.
  1. ^ "Bonneville Salt Flats Motorsports multimedia exhibit". [Marriott Library, University of Utah]. Archived from the original on 9 May 2008. (photo of the Napier-Railton at Bonneville)
  2. ^ Profile publications, Napier-Railton

External links[edit]