REID RAILTON: Man of Speed
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RAC Specialist Motoring Book of the Year 2018
Society of Automotive Historians in Britain,
winner of Michael Sedgwick Award for 2018
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.
- 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.
- UK price: £150.00
- ISBN: 978-1-910505-25-0
- Format: 280 x 235mm
- Hardback, two volumes in slipcase
- Page extent: 848pp
- Illustration: 1,000 photographs, including colour
- Word count: 265,000
Karl Ludvigsen is respected as a close and knowledgeable observer of, and participant in, the world motor industry. In addition to his industry activities as an executive with GM, Fiat and Ford and head of a consulting company, he has been active for over 60 years as an author and historian. As an author, co-author or editor he has some five dozen books to his credit, all concerning cars and the motor industry, his life-long passion. Many have been garlanded for their high standard of writing and research. He lives in Suffolk.
“A great book on a seminal but intractably sprawling subject which manages to combine forensic attention to detail with an insightful overview of context. Being episodic in structure, satisfying chunks can be read and re-read at a sitting, and as ever, the prose is limpid and muscular. The quantity, quality and diversity of the illustrations is worth the price alone — a sumptuous mix of period photographs (including family snaps and early colour exposures), modern shots, instructive technical close-ups, cutaways, design sketches and engineering drawings, mostly culled from the compendious Railton archive.”
“A biography of Reid Railton, the brilliant automotive and Land Speed Record engineer, has been long overdue, but at last — thanks to the support of his daughter Sally Joslin and the impressive research of Karl Ludvigsen — the daunting task has been masterfully achieved… Guaranteed to garner many awards, this mighty tome is highly recommended.”
Classic & Sports Car (Book of the Month)
“Over the last few years since reviewing books for Historic Racing Technology, we have received into the office some truly magnificent books. We may live in the digital age but we are blessed with book publishers who persevere and produce some of the best quality books ever seen.
“The latest to arrive, though, literally takes your breath away on all levels. Karl Ludvigsen, the American author who lives in the UK, is unquestionably one of the finest automotive historians ever. The quality of his research and writing are nothing short of brilliant.
“Furthermore, Evro Publishing has done Ludvigsen’s work proud. The book itself reeks of quality in terms of production, layout and design.”
Historic Racing Technology
“An amazing story, brilliantly complied in unparalleled depth… There are hundreds of superb images, beautifully reproduced… If these words are starting to sound a little breathless — well, that’s the effect this amazing work will have on you, too.”
Octane (Book of the Month)
“This is an immensely interesting book for historians, engineers and motoring enthusiasts… Karl Ludvigsen has made this story come alive for us and perhaps this work will bring Railton into the limelight which he deserves… This is an important work, handled with consummate skill and beautifully produced… The illustrations are as relevant as they are comprehensive… Perhaps the Book of the Year so far.”
“Landmark work… a long-overdue book.”
“The book is lavishly illustrated to a very high standard and each of Railton’s activities, put into the context of the time, is comprehensively covered.”
The Society of Automotive Historians
“A biography on Railton was long overdue… Karl Ludvigsen tackles Railton’s life’s work with poise and grace.”
Classic Car Weekly