1915 Napier 16/22 hp Colonial Tourer  Chassis no. 3353 Engine no. E98423305

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Lot 625
1915 Napier 16/22 hp Colonial Tourer
Chassis no. 3353 Engine no. E98423305

US$ 75,000 - 95,000
£ 56,000 - 70,000
Amended
1915 Napier 16/22 hp Colonial Tourer
Chassis no. 3353
Engine no. E98423305
D. Napier & Son, Ltd., was formed in London during 1808. Engaged in precision engineering, the company had among its products a range of printing presses. By the turn of the Twentieth Century, however, it had fallen on hard times. The grandson of the founder, Montague Napier, decided to revive it with automobiles.

His first product was a vertical-twin engine with coil ignition, built for his friend Selwyn Francis Edge. Edge formed the Motor Power Company in 1900 for distribution of automobiles, and for more than a decade was Napier’s sole distributor and promoter. That same year a Napier automobile successfully completed the British 1,000-mile Trial.

In 1901, Napier and Edge decided to go racing, and built a 17.1-liter, two-ton competition car, but their more successful line was in passenger cars. One of their best customers, telephone magnate Charles Jasper Glidden of Massachusetts, carried the Napier name on a series of long-distance tours, one of which became the series carrying his name.

Napier achieved the distinction of producing the world’s first commercially-viable six-cylinder engine, in 1904. A five-liter car with mechanical overhead intake valves, it soon spawned a 15-liter racing version. Napier, however, aimed squarely at the luxury market, a 60hp, 7.7-liter six becoming the best-known model. In 1908 came a five-liter L-head six with three-speed gearbox and shaft drive. Colonial models with a raised chassis had greater ground clearance for use in less-developed Commonwealth countries.

The First World War turned the company’ attention to aero engines, particularly the Napier “Lion,” which became renowned in automotive circles as the powerplant for a succession of land speed record cars. Edge departed the company in 1912, so the post-war activities were muted. Though four-wheel brakes and balloon tires were adopted in 1924, the firm ceased manufacturing that year, and later attempts at resuscitation were unsuccessful.

This 16/22hp Colonial tourer is one of the last Napier automobiles built as war advanced upon Europe. Finished in cream with red wire wheels, red leather upholstery and a tan top, it reflects the typical upmarket British car of the colonial era. Carefully restored to like-new condition, it has been dated by the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain as of 1915 manufacture. It is abundantly equipped with brass fittings: IMI electrified headlamps, battery box, tool boxes, a fuel can and rear-mounted trunk. On the windshield is a British tax disc from 1993; the car is known to have been shown in Germany in 1994 and 1996. Showing little use since its restoration over a decade ago, it is in exceptionally well-maintained condition. It will be an important addition to any collection of Veteran and Edwardian automobiles, where its rarity and distinctive appearance will provide valuable counterpoint to better-known marques.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note, the chassis number listed in the catalog is incorrect. The correct chassis number is 16796. Bonhams has been contacted by the holder of Napier records in the U.K. and they have been pleased to confirm that this car was originally supplied from their works on December 6th, 1917.
1915 Napier 16/22 hp Colonial Tourer  Chassis no. 3353 Engine no. E98423305
1915 Napier 16/22 hp Colonial Tourer  Chassis no. 3353 Engine no. E98423305
1915 Napier 16/22 hp Colonial Tourer  Chassis no. 3353 Engine no. E98423305
1915 Napier 16/22 hp Colonial Tourer  Chassis no. 3353 Engine no. E98423305
1915 Napier 16/22 hp Colonial Tourer  Chassis no. 3353 Engine no. E98423305
1915 Napier 16/22 hp Colonial Tourer  Chassis no. 3353 Engine no. E98423305
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