Napier-Railton - "The Speed Machine"

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Designed by Reid Railton for racecar driver John Cobb, the Napier-Railton was built in 1933 by Thomson & Taylor. The car is powered by the Napier Lion aero engine. The 24 Litre engine features a unique 12 cylinder "W" configuration arranged in three banks of four cylinders each. The engine offered tremendous power along with robust construction and relatively light weight for the period. It produced in excess of 540 BHP.  

Other unique features of the car include oversized tires which were custom made by Dunlop. The rear suspension uses twin elliptic leaf springs. Only the rear wheels feature brakes. The car has no starter so it has to be pushed to start.

This amazing machine proved to be very fast. John Cobb drove the car at the Brooklands race track in 1935 to set the all-time lap record of 143.44 MPH. Th track was appropriated for military purposes during the Second World War and never re-opened so the speed record still stands today. John Cobb also drove the car at the famous Bonneville Salt Flats to set a world speed record running an average of 158.6 mph for 24 hours!  

During the four year period from 1933 through 1937, the Napier-Railton broke 47 world speed records at Brooklands, Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry and Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.  The car survives today at the Brooklands Museum where it is maintained in fully working order.