The Railton Special, also known as the Railton Mobil Special or the Napier Railton, is a one-off motor vehicle built for John Cobb's successful attempts at the land speed record.
Powered by 2 supercharged W12-block Napier Lion V11D (WD) aircraft engines, it was the first vehicle to break 400 mph in a measured test. On September 16th 1947 John Cobb averaged 394.19mph over the measured mile to take the world land speed record.
It weighed over 3 tons and was 28' 8" long, 8' wide and 4'3" high. The front wheels were 5'6" apart and the rear 3'6". It was designed by Reid Railton and is currently on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Birmingham, England.
Railtons were built by the Fairmile Engineering Company in Cobham, Surrey. This company was the enterprise of Noel Macklin who up until the 1931 Depression had been building Invicta cars at the same premises. Railtons were in production from 1933 to 1939 with a handful constructed post WWII. Most had Terraplane / Hudson straight eight 4.2 litre engines but some were offered with 6 cylinder units for ? HP Tax? reasons; possibly some 50 Baby Railtons were built with 10HP 4 cylinder engines. A number of coachbuilders were used for the bodies, providing a wide variety of designs.
Brough Superiors were the brain-child of George Brough of motorcycle fame. Possibly recognising the successful sales of Railton cars, he followed a similar formula. They also used the Hudson engine and chassis, with the coachbuilding by W. C. Atcherley. The initial ones used the 8-cylinder engine, but later ones used the 6. See the excellent book by James Fack in the club shop for further details.
A few cars were built using the Terraplane / Hudson eight cylinder engine but the majority used the 6 cylinder, 3.5 litre engine and chassis. A supercharger was offered but it doubtful if many of these were supplied. In 1938/39 George developed a prototype V12 Saloon, using a Lincoln Zephyr engine and his own chassis design. This project was not to be continued due to the outbreak of war. Apart from the V12 and a one-off sports, bodied by NEWNS, all of the other Brough Superiors received coachwork by W.C. Atcherley.
Hudson, Essex and Terraplane. Hudson Motors of the U.S.A., produced cars and commercial vehicles using the model names of Essex. Essex Terraplane, Terraplane and Hudson. During the 1930?s they were one of the largest exporters of cars to all parts of the world. In Britain they had a Sales and Service operation based in The Great West Road, London. It was still operational as late as the 1960?s. Cars were available with standard American bodies and British coachwork. Many large ?Dealer Groups? had a Hudson Franchise in the 1930?s .
(source: Railton Owners Club)
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