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Clifford Earp and 1906 Record-Setting Napier on Daytona Beach

Napier Record-Setting – The Napier Motor Company of America

The British-built Napier was one of the leading makes of cars in the world through much of the first decade of the 20th century, it also preformed well in competition. In both 1905 and 1906 Napier racing cars set records at the speed meets held on Ormond-Daytona Beach. From the Owls Head Transportation Museum today we feature the postcard image above of a record-setting Napier that was donated to the museum’s Lang Library by Lewis Kaler.

Clifford Earp and his mechanic used the car to set a record of 1 hour, 15 minutes and 4 2/5 seconds, on Jan. 27, 1906 in the 100 mile Gasoline Free-For-All Race on the hard-packed sand. The photo taken at the conclusion of the race seems to indicate that the pair finished the race minus a tire. The 80 h.p. machine was entered in the event by the Napier Motor Car Company of Boston.

You can view Arthur MacDonald in his 90 h.p. Napier that set a speed record of 104.65 mph in 1905 and see a video of that event in an earlier post on The Old Motor. You can visit with the Owls Head Transportation Museum here.

Clifford Earp and 1906 Record-Setting Napier on Daytona Beach

The photo above courtesy of the Detroit Public Library shows the pair working on the car at the event and gives a rare close up view of the tubular surface-mounted radiator.

In the same vein, and just in time for Christmas is this 1906 Napier racing car any child would enjoy that was made by the Toledo Metal Wheel Co. It appears to be beautifully constructed and is fully equipped with three lamps and a bulb horn. The image is courtesy of Tom Jakeway.

190 Napier Children's Racing Car

The photo below shows an American Napier which was assembled in Jamaica Plain (Boston area), Massachusetts, from parts shipped over from D. Napier &  Son Limited in England. The American Napier Company tried to capitalize on the name but it was never really a successful venture, and it came to an end in 1911.

1910 Napier Motor Company of America Touring car

This six-cylinder Napier of an unknown model year is wearing a 1912 Massachusetts license plate numbered 1612. Investigation by Tim Martin and Eric Haartz into period registry records has found that the owner was Charles Whittemore of Newton, a suburb of Boston. This car was registered as a 101 h.p. and Whittemore also had the following vehicles registered: another Napier which was 60 h.p., (three) 72 h.p. Austins, a 34 h.p. and a  61 h.p Welch. The Old Motor photo.


    “The Horseless Age” March 1906 images show both sides of the standard 60 h.p. “Napier” engine. 


       A 1906 Napier Motor Company of America Advertisement below.


8 responses to “Napier Record-Setting – The Napier Motor Company of America

  1. Jamaica Plain is a Boston neighborhood located in the SW corner of the city. I grew up close to this area of JP which at one time had a cluster of factories and breweries. The latter started by a large population of German immigrants that settled there. All the factories are gone, most converted to condos or knocked down and only Sam Adams remains as an active brewery and company HQ. I never knew about these cars being assembled in that area. A quick Google search pulled up a local history buff’s blog that had more information about Napier and the Farnhan & Nelson Company that took over the Napier space to build custom car bodies.

  2. I’ve since been drawn in to the blog and under the factories link there is a fascinating list of manufacturers including locomotive, carriages and a company called Randell-Faichney that manufactured the “Blitz” branded spark plug (and later medical syringes). The blog also cites the Lenox Motor Car Company that existed at 3368 Washington St. around 1915. These are places I walked past as a kid. It just goes to show that there is a lot of hidden history just waiting to be uncovered. Happy Holidays to you, your family and the team at your shop.

  3. On a $ per-HP basis, if the 60HP cost $8,000, the 101 HP would have been an amazing $13,500, which seems to indicate why American Napier didn’t build many KD cars. Beautiful car, though. (Note the 45HP and 20HP cars track somewhat in cost ratios).

  4. Having recently read Emily Post’s “By Motor to the Golden Gate”, published in 1916 I’m now wondering if car she traveled in was, perhaps a Napier. The car’s manufacturer is never noted but it is mentioned that choosing a British car turned out to be a problem when spare parts were needed. Does anyone know what car she drove? Lots of photos of the car in her book a digital version of which is available free from The internet Archive or for a nominal charge from Amazon. A great story too.

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