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Manufacturing Starts at Acton

 

First Napier 6-Cylinder Car with SF Edge
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Early 6-cylinder Napier of 1904 with Cape Cart Hood
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65HP 6-cylinder Napier owned by the Nizam of Hyderabad
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Competition at Brooklands

Painting of the SF Edge 24 hour run
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Model 24 hour Car at the 100 anniversary of the ev
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When Locke-King decided to build the Brooklands Race Track at Weybridge, Edge wanted to prove the superiority of Napiers by running three 6-cylinder cars for 24 hours.  This they did in June 1907 before the official opening of Brooklands.  All three cars exceeded an average of 60 miles per hour during the 24 hour period.  Edge covered 1,581 miles driving his Napier single handed and being one of the first to use Rudge Whitworth detachable wire wheels.  This achievement stood unbeaten for 18 years and Napier cars were entered in many races at Brooklands and driven by Napier works drivers Tryon and Newton.  In 1908 Napiers / Edge withdrew from the competitive scene leaving private owner entries to represent the Napier marque in UK Events.  More detailed information on Napier’s in Competition can be found in Venables "First to Wear the Green".

 

 

Edge’s cousin Cecil Edge drove a 40hp Napier on a run in TOP GEAR from London to Edinburgh in October 1905 to prove the reliability of the 6-cylinder car.  The occasion was supervised by officias from the Automobile Club.

 

As well as the 6-cylinder cars the Factory produced a very successful 4-cylinder 15 HP car.  Many of these were used in Taxi fleets along with a few 10 HP 2-cylinder cars / taxis.  These 2-cylinder vehicles had the feature of opposite cranking since the engine was mounted the reverse way round with flywheel at the front.

Napier later moved forward with 6-cylinder production soon having a 30hp, 40hp and 60hp model, and later even a 90hp 11 litre car.  These cars were purchased by many of the new motorists as well as many dignitaries including as the Prime Minister.  The Nizam of Hyderabad purchased 6 cars after a good lunch with Edge and built his “Palace on Wheels” on some of the chassis'.  Some of these cars are still in the Nizam’s family possession.

Edge then decided to sell cars in the USA and set up Napier Motor Company of America assembling cars sent over from Acton in a factory near Boston.  This was not the most successful of Edge's ventures however few cars were sold with the Napier of America Logo.

Only a handful of British manufacturers existed  at the end of the 19th Century however this all changed from 1900 onwards with Napiers proving to be one of the more successful British manufacturers both in quality and quantity.

 

The progression of improvements to the Napier motor car were enormous in a very short space of time.  In 1900 cars could travel at up to a possible average 12 mph but with frequent stops.  By 1904 they were capable of covering long distances without stopping and speeds in competitions approaching 100 mph.  The level of technical improvements achieved by the motor industry in such a short period has never been equalled since.

 

In 1903 D Napier & Son was in the happy situation of having demand for cars far exceeding their capacity at the Lambeth Works.  Montague Napier purchased a new 4 acre site in Acton Vale in West London.

 

Having discussed the way forward with Napier, Edge was convinced that a 6-cylinder engine was the way forward.  Whilst D Napier & Son was not the first to produce a 6-cylinder engine, it was the first to put one into continuous production at the new Works.  The car was first introduced to the public in October 1903 and made available for the 1904 season.