1912 Napier T43 6 Cylinder 30hp
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a 1912 Napier Type T43 6 Cylinder 30hp.
If only cars could talk. This incredible Napier would have an amazing story to tell!
This car has an incredible history file and there is a letter on file from D.R. Grossmark, dated 24th October 1962 which dates this car. Grossmark writes “ . . . I am pleased to say I have now had the opportunity of examining Messers. Napiers records at Acton, and I have been through them thoroughly. I am pleased to say I have been able to trace the majority of information relating to your car.”
Grossmark confirms that this car left the Napier factory in Acton, London on the 3rd June 1912 and it was delivered to Town & Country Amalgamated Motors, Brisbane, Queensland.
Interesting Grossmark notes a Napier T43 is basically a Type T26, longer chassis T36 with a T31 steering box and other colonial modifications. He also confirms that 100 Napier T43’s were built. The car is powered by a 6 cylinder engine of 4.0 litre capacity generating 30hp.
It is understood the first owner of this Napier was Queensland Railways. The next owner of the car was a Mr Smith who had a tarpaulin company at Breakfast Creek in Newstead, an inner Brisbane suburb. It is thought Smith acquired the car in c1916. He is listed as the owner of the Napier in 1923 and at that time the car carried the Queensland registration ‘1339’. The car is in the 1923 list of motor owners in Queensland (then owned by Smith from Albion) which we have on file. Previously, the car was registered as ‘A339’, which would tie in with the Queensland Railways registration numbers sequence.
Smith’s cars were maintained by the uncle of the current owner, Frank Guyomar Snr from Bowen Hills in Brisbane. He was the Maintenance Engineer for T. Tristram & Son, a soft drink company at West End in Brisbane.
Smith then had an unfortunate incident with the car in c1916. One day he was driving his Napier along Breakfast Creek Road and thought all the passersby were being very friendly that morning by waving to him. However, they were waving at him because the rear of the Napier was aflame! Apparently, a cigar butt had gone down behind the back seat!
The car with its damaged body was brought to the Guyomar family depot (Guyomar & Wright) in Carl Street, Thompson Estate (Now Buranda) and the body removed. The original tourer style body was damaged beyond repair. The chassis went to Lindsay & Carey in Melbourne Street, South Brisbane for a new body to be made and fitted. Smith opted to have the car rebodied with a handsome two seater colonial style body, which is how the car is presented today.
Smith had his ‘new car’ painted in French blue with light fawn wheels. The chassis and running gear were painted dark grey with dark leather splash aprons between the body and running boards.
When the car was rebodied the wheels were resized from 1020 x 120 to 935x 135. They have since been rebuilt and resized to 880 x 120.
After all the work was completed and the Napier was back on the road Smith gave the car to Frank Guyomar sometime around 1918.
The car was used for a few years, before being taken off the road around 1926. The car was going to be scrapped and the father of the current owner moved it to Gumdale in 1932 or 1933. The car then sat for years under and iron bark tree and slowly deteriorated.
The current owner rescued the Napier from under the iron bark tree in c1948. He was only a child, but a curious one at that! He further dismantled the car, which enabled him to move it in manageable bits into the chook shed out of the weather. The car had survived relatively unscathed sitting for around 16 years under a couple sheets of corrugated roofing iron. Fortunately, the car was still mostly complete albeit disassembled.
By 1958 the engine was back together and running, though it took the owner a while to figure out the firing order wasn’t 153624 but 124635!
The Napier was finally mobile in the late 1960’s and it was taken to the Vintage Car of Queensland (VCCQ) annual concours in circa 1968 as a driving chassis. The restoration of the body was completed about a year later and since then this fabulous Napier has been used, enjoyed and fettled as required.
This car is no trailer queen and it has probably travelled around 20,000 miles since it was rebuilt. It is always driven wherever it goes! It has been driven from Brisbane to Sydney and back at least three times, used as a holiday touring car for years as well as for the occasional rally.
All this time the car remained in the same family with the exception of a short period between 1981 and 1987 when Graeme Wright took custodianship of the Napier. In 1987 the wife of the current owner bought it back as a surprise birthday present for the current owner!
To see a Napier driven on the road in Brisbane, let alone anywhere in the world is a rare and unique sight.
The overall presentation and mechanical condition of this car is a testament to the current owner’s commitment to keep it on the road. The car is still registered and only a few weeks ago it was taken on a 200 kilometre round trip and it didn’t miss a beat.
The car starts surprisingly easily. Obviously starting a car of this vintage is not as easy as just turning the key, but if you follow the starting procedure correctly the car starts at pretty much first crank and once warmed up will settle into a smooth idle.
When the current owner took us out in the car for the photoshoot we were surprised by how powerful the car feels and how easy it gets up to speed. The car feels solid on the road and is surprisingly quiet for a car of this vintage. The gear changes were all smooth. The car will cruise comfortably at 80 km/hr.
Needless to say, we got plenty of attention driving down the road on our way to the location for our photo shoot. This is quite a big car and it has an incredible presence about it.
Generally, the paint is in a good condition and it still has a nice shine and deep gloss to it. As expected there are some signs of wear and tear here and there, but that is to be expected as after all this car does get driven! The current colour scheme of green with the yellow wheels and the beige soft top really suits the car.
The brass work on this car is a real feature and it also presents very well. There is plenty of it, both outside and inside the car.
The interior, which is trimmed with tan upholstery also presents well with just the right amount of patina. The leather seats are in a good condition with no tears or marks. Typical of a car of this period all of the instruments and controls are ‘below dash’ and are a real work of art on this car. They are all in good condition and look to be in working order.
The soft top, which has probably hardly been used, is also in good condition.
The devil is in the detail with this fabulous car. The more you look the more you see. There are Napier scripted parts all over the car and the workmanship and build quality is very good.
Accompany the car is an original 1912 Noiseless & Smokeless Napier Catalogue & Handbook, a thick history file and tool kit.
Napier was one of the world’s most exclusive car manufactures in period and their cars were true engineering master pieces. They are best known for building some incredible aero engine land speed record cars.
- Incredibly rare Napier Type T43 6 Cylinder 4.0 Litre.
- Australian delivered.
- Single family ownership since c1918 (with the exception of 1981 – 1987).
- Sorted, ready to be used and enjoyed by its next custodian.
Montague Napier was the son of James Napier and the grandson of David Napier. In 1895 he inherited the family manufacturing business D. Napier & Son from his father who had passed away earlier that year. The business was founded by his grandfather in 1808 and one of their first achievements was to design a steam powered printing press. Bu the mid 1850’s the company had grown substantially, employing between 200 and 300 people. They manufactured a wide variety of products, including a centrifuge for sugar manufacturing, lathes, drills, railway cranes and ammunition making equipment for the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. Tough times followed and when Montague inherited the business it was on the verge of bankruptcy.
Like his father and grandfather, Montague Napier was also a great engineer. He was also an amateur racing cyclist and he met an Australian by the name of SF Edge at the Bath Road Club who managed to convince him to take a look at his Panhard ‘Old Number 8’ (which had won the 1896 Paris – Marseille – Paris race) to see if he could make some improvements to the car. Napier did exactly that, but he wasn’t happy with the result and offered to fit an engine of his own design. Edge was so impressed with the result he encouraged Napier to build his own car. He collaborated with Harvey du Cros, who was the financial backer for Dunlop, to form the Motor Power Company, based in London which agreed to buy all the cars Napier could build.
The initial order was for six cars – three powered by a two cylinder 8 hp engine and three powered by a four cylinder 16 hp engine. The cars were finished with aluminium bodies by Arthur Mulliner of Northampton and chain drive. They were delivered on the 31st March 1900 to the Motor Power Company. It is understood that Edge paid £400 for each car and was able to sell them for £500!
By 1903 production had reached 250 cars and the company outgrew its current location and moved to Acton. In 1906 it became a limited liability company, D. Napier & Son Limited. By 1907 Napier employed 1,200 people and produced around 100 cars that year.
At the start of the First World War Napier was contracted to build aero engines from other company’s designs. Unhappy with the reliability of these engines Napier decided to design his own and in 1916 produced the 12 cylinder Napier Lion. The Lion went on to be used in the 1920s to win the World Land Speed Record in Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird and Henry Segrave’s Golden Arrow. Napier also supplied trucks and ambulances to the War Office.
In 1919 car production recommenced with a 6 cylinder 6.0 litre T75. These were very expensive, costing about the same as a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. More and more the focus of the company shifted to making aero engines.
Like many car manufactures in operation at the turn of the century Napier built a number of different cars fitted with a variety of different engine configurations. The last cars were made in 1924.
- Napier T43 30hp 6 Cylinder