As opposed to the rush of technical developments in the first decade of the 20th Century a stagnation set in during the second. There were fewer major technical improvements made to the existing models other than increasing the bore to give larger capacity.
One of the notable achievements was the Alpine Tour 30-35 HP car built in 1913 which Napiers publicised in an attempt to show that Napiers could do the same as other makes. With the advent of WWI in 1914 cars were produced in limited quantities for military use. Instead the factory produced a considerable number of Ambulances and Trucks mostly based on the 16-20 HP series.
During the War production from thr Napier factory turned to he production of aero engines. Dissatisfied with the quality of the engines the Company self-financed the design and development of the Lion engine which only saw use towards the end of the war. However in the Post-War period and the next decades it took over Napiers sales. The last car left the works in 1924 bringing to an end 25 years of vehicle manufacture.
There were attempts in the early 1930's to revive Napier vehicle production. The Company negotiated with and nearly bought the failing Bentley business only to be 'gazumped' by Rolls-Royce. At the same period the Company was approached to produce a mechanical horse which was referred disparigingly by some as the 'Mountain Goat'. Despite successful trials the Napier Board decided to sell the design to Scammell who went on to produce thousands of these vehicles!
The “Hutton Car” was a 4-cylinder Competition constructed made at the Napier works with the Napier name erased on components to avoid a conflict with SF Edge's vehicles. It competed and won the Isle of Man TT race in 1908 however only a few were made of which the winning car survives today.
After Edge’s decision to withdraw from competition in 1908 sales of Napier cars lost impetus. In 1912 Edge and Napier had a major disagreement resulting in Edge giving up his sole sales rights which where taken over by D Napier & Son themselves with the new owner remaining at the existing Edge premises in New Burlington Street London.
The factory continued producing the same car series whose engines were all incresed by 5 HP to 35, 45 and 65 HP and with the 90 HP still available for the ultimate motorist. The numbers of 6-cylinder cars produced were considerably surpassed by 15 HP 4-cylinder cars which soon increased to 16-20 HP versions. Other manufacturers had entered the market producing a good standard of car and sales became more difficult and lacking the enterprise of Edge, sales faltered.
Napiers turned to the Colonies and sold many cars to Australia in particular as well as Canada to a lesser degree. The models were designated as “Colonial Models” with higher ground clearance and stronger springing and axles. Many Napiers have been discovered and restored in Australia where the dry climate helps to preserve cars.
The End Of The Napier Marque
This section of the website is dedicated to the memory of
DEREK GROSSMARK 1928 - 2013
Who saved a significant part of the Napier Vehicle records from D Napier & Son Acton Works in 1961/2.
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