Award winning
Reid Railton
Reid Railton
Reid Railton
Reid Railton
Reid Railton
Reid Railton
Reid Railton
Reid Railton
Reid Railton

Reid Railton

Man of Speed

Regular price$196.00
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Author Karl Ludvigsen
ISBN: 9781910505250

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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.
Royal Automobile Club Specialist Motoring Book of the Year, 2018 • Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot Award, Society of Automotive Historians (USA), 2019 • Mercedes-Benz Montagu of Beaulieu Trophy, Guild of Motoring Writers, 2018 • Michael Sedgwick Award, Society of Automotive Historians in Britain, 2018

Key content

• 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.

Format: 280 x 235mm
Hardback, two volumes in slipcase
Page extent: 848pp
Illustration: 1,000 photographs, including colour

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“A great book on a seminal but intractably sprawling subject which manages to combine forensic attention to detail with an insightful overview of context... The quantity, quality and diversity of the illustrations is worth the price alone.”

“A biography of Reid Railton, the brilliant automotive and Land Speed Record engineer, has been long overdue, but at last the daunting task has been masterfully achieved… this mighty tome is highly recommended.”

“An amazing story, brilliantly compiled in unparalleled depth.”

“This is an immensely interesting book for historians, engineers and motoring enthusiasts… an important work, handled with consummate skill and beautifully produced.”

“A biography on Railton was long overdue… Karl Ludvigsen tackles Railton’s life’s work with poise and grace.”

“Over the last few years we have received into the office some truly magnificent books. The latest to arrive, though, literally takes your breath away on all levels.”

Karl Eric Ludvigsen
With his biography of Reid Railton, Karl Ludvigsen adds a third notable engineer to his oeuvre of some five dozen titles. Railton’s predecessors are Volkswagen creator Ferdinand Porsche, in two volumes, and Lotus founder Colin Chapman. Other biographical subjects have been racing drivers Stirling Moss, Juan Fangio, Bruce McLaren, Emerson Fittipaldi, Dan Gurney, Jackie Stewart and Alberto Ascari.

For Ludvigsen authorship has been an integral part of a 65-year career that saw his first book — MG Guide — published in 1958. A passion for cars led to senior posts in the motor industry at General Motors, Fiat Motors of North America and Ford of Europe, the last requiring his move from America to Britain in 1980. In London he founded a management-consulting company, Ludvigsen Associates Limited, that he headed for 15 years.

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