Reid Antony Railton, Cheshire-born automotive engineer par excellence, created an extraordinary range of cars. He rose to renown during the 1930s as chief engineer at Thomson & Taylor, Brooklands-based racing-car builders. There he realised the dreams of that era’s top men of speed, including Tim Birkin, Malcolm Campbell, Whitney Straight, John Cobb, Raymond Mays and Goldie Gardner. His great cars powered them all to sensational racing and record-breaking success. This magisterial book, by one of the world’s foremost automotive historians, tells Reid Railton’s personal and professional story in superb detail and fascinating depth, with special focus on Reid’s unique insights — amounting to genius — and technical accomplishments.
• Record-breaking on land by evolving Railton-designed Blue Bird cars for Sir Malcolm Campbell, smashing the 300mph barrier in 1935.
• Designing and building chassis and suspension for the celebrated ERA, working with Raymond Mays and Peter Berthon.
• Creating the great Napier-Railton, with which John Cobb achieved the fastest-ever lap at Brooklands in 1935 and set numerous long-distance records at Bonneville.
• Railton’s supreme engineering achievement, John Cobb’s land-speed record challenger, takes the record ever higher, culminating at Bonneville in 1947 with 394.2mph – which remained unbroken for 16 years.
• More speed records in numerous classes with Goldie Gardner’s Railton-revised MG EX.135 either side of the war.
• The lure of speed on water: designing two successful record-breaking boats for Sir Malcolm Campbell and Crusader for John Cobb, who exceeded 200mph on Loch Ness in 1952 moments before crashing fatally.
• Road cars too: working with Parry Thomas on the Leyland Eight supercar of 1920–23, his own Arabs of 1925–27, road-going Railtons from 1933 and a decade of top-level consulting for America’s Hudson Motor Company.
• In WW2 working with America’s Hall-Scott on high-powered engines for Britain’s fast patrol boats.
About the author
Karl Ludvigsen is respected as a close and knowledgeable observer of, and participant in, the world motor industry. In addition to his industry activities as an executive with GM, Fiat and Ford and head of a consulting company, he has been active for over 60 years as an author and historian. As an author, co-author or editor he has some five dozen books to his credit, all concerning cars and the motor industry, his life-long passion. Many have been garlanded for their high standard of writing and research. He lives in Suffolk.