1936 Railton Tourer

The Railton automobile company was created from the remains of the Invicta Motorcar Company, run by then Captain and later Sir Noel Macklin. Even though his Invicta brand had succumbed to the world-wide depression in 1933, Sir Noel was undeterred in his desire to build performance cars. He consulted with Reid Railton, racer and designer of land speed record-setting machines like the Bluebird, and the Napier-Railton Special on a plan to build a new car.

Hudson’s Terraplane line was known for power, performance and reasonable price, and Hudson was operating a healthy export business to Great Britian from the United States. Macklin was impressed. By combining the best of the Hudson underpinnings with stylish and lightweight British coachwork, Macklin created a new car he called the Railton – taking full advantage of Reid Railton’s famous name.

A few six-cylinder Railtons were made, but did not pack the performance punch of the eight.  The Hudson chassis was treated to a going-over, resulting in the car falling more in line with the lower-slung look British automobile buyers were familiar with. Railton and crew modified the chassis and steering layout at the former Invicta works Fairmile Engineering Company in Cobham, Surrey. The frame was dropped, spring base widened and steering ratio upped to 15:1. Brakes were also improved. The suspension was fitted with stiffer springs along with Andre Hartford Telecontrol friction double-acting telescopic shock absorbers. Ride quality could be adjusted from the cockpit via controls mounted under the steering wheel.

Early 1930s Railtons were fitted with bodies fashioned from steel by John Charles Limited. Later bodies were built by a number of coachworks, not the least of which was Carbodies, which hammered and formed the original open Tourer body on this charming example. While Railton did alter and tune the suspension in the Hudson chassis, the engine was left largely untouched. The bores in the Hudson eight are only 3 inches wide, but the stroke is a well undersquare 4½ inches long. Stump-pulling torque is available at nearly any point in the engine's operational range, which topped out at a mere 4,500 revolutions per minute. The long-stroke straight-eight engine, in concert with the somewhat unusual but smooth-action Hudson oil-bathed cork-faced clutch mechanism, proved a smash hit with the English and American public alike for its silky and linear power delivery.  With the Tourer weighing in at 2,200 pounds and that long-stroke Hudson Eight under the bonnet, the Railton could get from zero to 50 miles per hour in a just over seven seconds - quite impressive for an automobile manufactured over 85 years ago.

This sporty 1936 Railton features Hudson’s powerful inline eight-cylinder engine and smart four-passenger touring coachwork. According to the previous owner, this car was delivered to an unknown owner in the UK, and registered as DGO 229. Its early history is not yet known, but in the 1960s it was discovered in the care of a British farmer and scrapper named John Wright. In 1967, it was acquired by two brothers who shipped it to Boston, Massachusetts, and from there it joined the Davis family of Little Rock, Arkansas in 1970 and remained with them for many years. The Railton was acquired by a Colorado-based collector in the 1990s, before landing with the most recent owner in 2012.

Finished in red-orange over beige trim and a complementing beige convertible top, it is a striking and sporty example of this rarely-seen marque. Wearing a well-maintained older restoration, it displays a pleasing character, inviting regular use. Inside, soft beige leather upholstery covers the seats and door cards, with a generous size rear bench for friends or extra luggage when touring. In classic British tradition, the elegant wood dash houses an array of attractive Smiths dials including a tachometer and pressure gauges for the Andre Hartford dampers. The red-orange paint is older but presents well, with a few minor imperfections found on close inspection. The large chrome headlights, center-mounted driving light and wire wheels add to the pre-war charm and character of this very rare sports tourer. Under the bonnet is tidy, as is the rest of this well cared-for Railton. The powerful and stout Hudson drivetrain coupled with light-weight coachwork make this wonderful car a pleasure to operate. Additionally, the classic cut down door allows for a fun elbow’s out driving experience that adds to the delight.

Presented in excellent condition, this car wears a well-maintained and pleasingly mellow restoration enhancing the old-world character of the 1930s era brilliantly. Railtons were produced in small numbers, are coveted by collectors and are rarely offered for sale, creating a rare chance to require an unusual and seldom-seen motorcar that is perfectly suited for touring and club events.


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