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Napier: The First to Wear the Green [Hardcover]

David Venables
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

13 Feb 1998
This account of Napier cars - Britain's first internationally successful racing cars - describes the men who built and competed in them and the engines later used to achieve a number of land speed records. The book draws from sources such as Napier factory records and the notebooks of Edwardian drivers. It also includes information on: how racing cyclist S.F. Edge bought a Panhard and asked Montague Napier to modify it; how Napier built cars which Edge marketed through racing; the company's racing activities from 1896 to 1914, including victory in the 1902 Gordon Bennett Trophy, Britain's first international racing success; how during World War One Napier built aero engines, including the Lion engine which went into production in 1918; the successes for aero-engined cars using the Edwardian Napier chassis at Brooklands; the racing and record-breaking of the Napier Lion-engined cars from 1927 to 1947; and John Cobb's 1939 land speed record of 403 mph at Utah, in the USA - the first car to exceed 400mph, a record which remained unbeaten until 1963.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: G T Foulis & Co Ltd (13 Feb 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0854299890
  • ISBN-13: 978-0854299898
  • Product Dimensions: 27.2 x 21.4 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,272,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
David Venables inherited this project from those who had had direct contact with some of the key personalities in the story and if he had not written this book much of the information in it would have been lost for ever- so it presents a unique historical record. It is the story of key personalities as well as of the racing cars that bore the Napier name. The most colourful character was of course Selwyn F Edge, that supreme salesman, publicist and racing enthusiast who was largely responsible for the early success of the car business. I also particularly wish to mention the remarkable Dorothy Levitt who became the first great lady racing motorist. Montague Napier comes across as a business organizer who employed talented engineers rather than as a great engineer himself in the mould of Henry Royce: ultimately the sheer superiority of the Rolls Royce 40/ 50hp (Silver Ghost) overwhelmed Napier as a manufacturer of motor cars once the shine of all those early competitions successes wore off.

We see how dangerous those early races were, there being many accidents and fatalities. This should not have been surprising given the condition of the roads and the design of racing cars that were really just huge engines mounted on spindly chassis with a seat attached. The woeful inadequacy of contemporary wheels and tyres also becomes clear. The excitement generated by the great continental road races, the Isle of Man TT and of course the new Brooklands track is well conveyed. Later, the drama surrounding the world speed record achievements of remarkable cars powered by the Napier Lion engine is described in similar detail.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4.0 out of 5 stars Well researched book on the history of the Napier Automobile 16 Feb 1999
By A Customer - Published on
The book begins with a simple, but clear discussion of the origins of this particular branch of the Napier family. Without dwelling on this the subject moves through the growth and devlopment of D Napier & Sons, into one of the largest automobile manufacturers in Britain. Focussing primarily on the racing exploits of the marque, this book provides an excellent resource for Napier enthusiasts. It includes a large section on the land speed record attempts during the 1930's and 40's. The book has hundreds of historic photographs and interesting dialogue. Would provide any automobile enthusiast with many hours of enjoyable reading.
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