Wednesday 2 January 2008, by Roy Gasson
40-50 Napier, body by Cunard
Napier produced a considerable number of Business Vehicles even as far back as 1901 when suitable bodies were fitted to the normal car. Napiers made a substantial contribution to the War Effort with both Ambulances and trucks. They also produced buses and Charabancs.
The end of the Great War left Napiers with a large work force with a factory that had been extended during the war and basically only the one car the New 40-50hp 6 cylinder with overhead camshaft, but using many of the prewar components as chassis etc. The directors delayed production decisions and the car appeared too late into the market place.
This car although more refined than the pre-war cars, very capable just did not compete with other cars available at that time and lacking the Entrepreneur to promote sales did not gain market acceptance although receiving good reviews at the time.
Napier’s ceased car production in 1924 having only produced 198 cars since the war of these 12 were 16-22 hp the rest 40-50hp.
The end of an Era in which Napier’s and Edge brought sporting fame to the Company and the Country and produced cars some of which that are treasured and cherished still in use still today, some 100 years later.
From then onwards Napier’s did not produce an entity but only the driving power for both Aero, Marine, Rail and of course powered many of the Land Speed Record cars as Bluebird, Golden Arrow and the Napier Railton. Well covered in the book Napier Powered.
Napier held the Land Speed record with the Napier Lion engine over many years between the wars, finally achieving with the Napier-Railton LSR of 394mph and on one run over 400mph in 1947. This record using piston engines as against jet power must still stand! The history of the Napier LSR cars is well covered in David Venables book.
Napier made an unsuccessful bid for Bentley Motors in 1931, if they had been successful one can only speculate on the car that may have been then been produced at Acton!!
Napier’s achieved outstanding results in the Air with the Schneider Trophy Races and powering the famous WW2 Typhoon tank buster aircraft amongst others. The Napier Powered Book covers the usage of Napier Power units in their various guises.
Malcolm Cambell in Bluebird 1 at Pendine Sands