Monday 13 March 2006, by cmcgarry
A grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has enabled Brooklands Museum to purchase the finest British pre-war racing car ever built - John Cobb’s 24-litre Napier-Railton.
This unique car was commissioned by the Brooklands driver John Cobb and was designed with the Brooklands Lap Record, 500 Mile Race and the World’s 24 Hour Record in mind. The chassis was designed by Reid Railton at Thomson and Taylor Ltd at Brooklands and the car took shape in their workshops in 1933. The magnificent vehicle, with its immensely strong girder construction, powered by a 12 cylinder Napier Lion aero-engine, won fame not only as the fastest car at Brooklands but twice took for Britain the 24 hour record in 1935 and 1936 [150.16mph].
The Brooklands Outer Circuit lap record of 143.44mph taken in 1935 by the Napier Railton was never beaten. The Daily Herald Trophy awarded for the Brooklands Outer Circuit lap record has been donated to Brooklands Museum by Mrs. John Cobb.
The car is now on display in the Speed Record Exhibition in the Motoring Village at Brooklands Museum together with an excellent contemporary scale model of the Napier Railton and many photographs of the car and the people involved with it, including John Cobb, Reid Railton, Thomson, Taylor and the workshop engineers. Records at Brooklands were electrically timed and the Museum also has the original 1933 timing apparatus in the collection.
Holder of both standing start and flying start lap records, winner of the fastest short and the fastest long distance races ever run at Brooklands and creator of the highest speed measured officially there, the Napier Railton may be said to be truly the ultimate pre-war British Racing Car.
Brooklands Museum Trust was recently given the opportunity to purchase the car, by the owner, Lukas Hüni, who wished the Museum to be its permanent home.
The Heritage Lottery Fund contributed 75% of the total purchase price of the car, the remaining 25% being contributed by the following generous donors:
Rowan Atkinson, The British Racing Drivers Club, Ron Dennis, Jonathon Finch, Victor Gauntlett, Adrian Hamilton, John Haynes, Neil Higgins, The Earl of March, Michael Marshall, Michael Shanly Investments, Hugh Taylor, Tom Walkinshaw and Ray Wiltshire and Members of The Association of Friends of Brooklands Museum and The Brooklands Society.
The Museum is also grateful to Doug Nye acting on behalf of Brooks for his help and guidance in acquiring the Napier-Railton.