Veteran to classic

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Golden Egg for a Golden Arrow?

Planners International of Tetbury in Gloucestershire is hoping that the 925hp Irving-Napier Land Speed Record car “Golden Arrow” can be restored to running order, instead of serving as a static exhibit at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu — if Mr Robert Horne’s Golden Apple Trust can lay a golden egg of £500,000.

Since Sir Henry Segrave had taken the LSR to 231.36 mph at Daytona Beach in 1929 with no drama, so that it had run less than 25 miles at such a speed during its two practice runs and two-way record bid, Motor Sport hoped that the “Golden Arrow” might still be in running order when CC Wakefield (Castrol) Ltd presented it to Beaulieu. In which case, we suggested, it would be nice if Lord Montagu, who is a very good driver, were to use it to break the British record (a mile at 217.5 mph by Campbell’s Napier-Arrol-Aster) on Pendine or Southport sands. We were not very serious, and were told it would not be possible anyway, because the Napier Lion’s cylinder blocks were porous.

We are all for historic cars being in running order, and all praise to Owen Wyn Owen for getting the earlier LSR Thomas Special “Babs” going again, but half-a million pounds does seem rather a lot to restore a car which originally cost about £11,000. “Golden Arrow” is now without its special multi-plate clutch and dual propeller-shafts, and new, very special, tyres, presumably a new engine and maybe a trip to Daytona would be necessary before it could reach the 240 mph which Segrave felt it should be capable of, and to which road cars will soon be aspiring in these enlightened times!

However, if the money is forthcoming, it will be run gently to prove that it still works, which is better than not running at all.

Incidentally, there seem to be some curious misconceptions about the “Golden Arrow”. It was built at the KLG works on Kingston Hill, but the slim gold-hued body was made by Thrupp & Maberly; Autocar & Motor describes it as “futuristic”, like something out of a Flash Gordon cartoon, but in fact the close-fitting bonnet which hugged the outline of the Napier Lion’s cylinder formation was simply a copy of the streamlining of the Supermarine S4 Schneider Trophy racing seaplane of four years earlier; nor, in the event, did Segrave use a primitive “gun sight” on his impressive record runs.