IN his article in the September number Of MOTOR Seoter on the 1909 sixcylinder Napier, Mr. Kent Kerslake quoted the Hon. C. S. Rolls as declaring that the ” six-eylindered engine” was an English invention, and added that it could be claimed that Mr. Rolls! statement was not strictly accurate. In view of the intense heat with which hearts have burned over this question in the past, Mr. Kerslake thus dismissed it, in my opinion, rather lightly. In its earlier stages, Mr. S. F. Edge’s policy of applying high-pressure salesmansliip to he motor industry On behalf of I liv Nal/kr car frequently took the form of issuilig challenges to all and sundry, which were sometimes accepted, as Oil I IL, OCCit:,1.11 Of the famous Nil tier
mattli at Brooklands, Ind; whieli More often, when t heir terms were num carefully framed 1.y the challenger, were not. In this latter category was one issued in 1911 to all other manufacturers of six-cylinder ears; who were challenged to prove that their products were as good as t he Napier, and who,in order to do so, would have been obliged, according to one of the firms who did not accept the challenge, to put the clock back several years and then do everything that the eix-cylinder Napier had done, only better. In any case Mr. Edge Vas highly delighted at. the suceess of what he pleased to call his ” onaecepted clut I lenge,” and in the course of boasting a bou t I deelared that the Napier was tlw first six-cylinder car, and evidently still the best. I suspect. that it was the second part. of this claim which really stung someone who thereupon proceeded to write to the Autoear, signing himself ” An Agent for Rolls-Royce cars,” a pseudonym which enabled Edge to refer to one of his later communications as ” another anonymous letter.” However, as Messrs. Rolls-Royce were among the manufacturers of’ six-cylinder cars who had not seen lit to accept. the challenge,. their ” agent ” chose to pass over Mr. Edge’s claim Butt the Napier Was the best car of this type, and sought to disprove that it was the first. It was not even, he suggested, as if the production of 4 six-cylinder car had been an original idea of Mr. Napier’s : as recently as November 2nd, 19.10, M. Charles Faroux had written in La Vie Automobile : “I remember that Napier was the first man I convinced that the six-cylinder was
infinitely superior to the four-cylinder.” And it was not even, he went on, as if Mr. Napier had been the first person to put the idea into practice : he seemed to remember that Messrs. Spyker Brothers Of Amsterdam had Shown a six-cylinder car at the Paris Salon of December, 1903, whereas the first six-cylinder Napier did not appear until the Crystal Palace Show of February, 1904. Mr. Edge was fully celled to this occasion. Ile Obtained, and published as an annexe to his own tilttter from Montague S. Napier declaring that ” 1 can only say tlutt the statement nut& by the foreign journal Mutt he had been persuaded to adopt the six-cylinder principle by ‘ 11 certain foreign designer’] Was wrong:” As to the point about the six-cylinder Spyker having been exhibited before the Six-cylinder Napier, :added by BALADEUR ” Edge, this proved nothing. as it was merely due to the fact that the French Show Was lield before the English one: He did tel explain why Napier, who had nisi) exhibited at the Paris Salon of December. 1903, had there shown only four-cylinder models. And when, a *Wet* later. sialieone who signed himself ” A Rolls-Royce driver ” wrote to say that the London agents for the Diirkopp ears exhibited a six-cylinder engine at the Crystal Palace Show in 1903, the thing Was getting SO dilli(11.11t that nobody. not
even Mr. Edge, deigned to reply. The Diirkopp engine,” added this witness. ” had its cylinders east in three, like a Rolls-Royce. Unfortunately, the car intended for demonstration purposes was smashed up whilst: being driven to the docks.”
It was passible, perhaps, to ignore ” A Rolls-Royce driver ” and his outlandish Diirkopp, but M. Charles Faroux. it seems. did not like being referred to as ” a certain foreign designer.” Moreover, M. Charles Parimx was the editor of La Vic Automobile and had no need to confine himself to an obscure corner of the correspondence columns ; on April 15th, 1911. he gave himself three whole pages of leading article in which to deal with Messrs. ‘Napier and Edge and their pretensions. “The extraordinary success of the six-cylinder engine,” he started off, “was hound to provoke claims to being first in the field. Just open the periodicals from across the Channel : in every number, on the advertisement page taken by Napier, you can read as follows : “I’he Napier was the first sixeylinder car, and is still the best. Every other six-cylinder car is a copy of the Napier principle.’ Well, that’s a Mee piece of cheek. It will he quite easy for as to convince the house of Napier that it is mistaken . . In order to do so, he thereupon set out. the Napier claims, as pill. forward by the company’s general manager, Mr. S. F. Edge,himself. On October 16th, 1903. Mr. S. F. Edge at a public Press .dinner announced Napier’s intention to build a six-cylinder car of 18-h.p. On October 31st, 1.903, the Autoear reported that Mr. Roger Fuller had ordered a. sixcylinder Napier” after seeing the specification “—whielt meant, presinnably, that. the car had not as yet been built. In
December, Napier exhibited at the Paris Salon, but did not show a sixe limier model. On February 13th, 1904, the Autoear announced that. the six-. cy finder Napier would not be the only Itritisli-lutilt six-cylinder car at the forthcoming Crystal Palace Show, but added. by way Of eonselation, that Mr. Edge hid been the first: main to announce one On February 27th, 1904, -the Autoear published a photograph of an 18/40-h.p.
six-cylinder Napier belonging to Mr. Edward Kennard. “Thus,” Summed up M. Faroux, “according to Napiers tliernselves, one can definitely:fix February 20th. 1904, as the approximate date when the first six-cylinder Napier took the read.” In the meantime, went on Faroux, as early as July. 191)3, a French sixcylinder car, built by E. Lona, laid been completed ; ” it was given some road tests, and was then shown at the Paris Sidon of Decenther, 11103.” According to r.-Illto nI Deeember 18th, Low, it was Ill led with ” ignition by two plugs mounted in series [which] permits of an increase of a good third in the Output of tile engine by achieving a more rapid propagation of the explosion which st;irts from two ‘ hearths ‘ instead of
” Leaving aside the technical nensense for which the Editor of /’Auto is respintsilfle,” commented Faroux from the heiidits of 11111, •• this is, I think, convincing proof that the car existed “; and lie added the suggest:teen that Edge, having seen this six-eylituler car at the S:11011 in 1)ccerither 1003, decided to build one like it for the Crystal Palace show in February, 1004. Whatever else FaT011s t hought of’ Edge. he evidently credited him with being a quick worker. A tiyhiiw, eontinued the devastating Pomo even if he was in front of N.ipier. still was not. first. :1t. the heginning of 1003 the Societe des Etudes Mecaniques of Levallois-Perret received an order from an American, Mr. Forbes, for a car capable of 140 k.p.h. (I expect lie really said 9(1 miles an hour.) Faroux, who was at that time engineer to. the company, thereupon designed a racer with a six-cylinder engine of 140 by 200 nun. bore and stroke (.18,473 c.c.), which was entered for the .Paris-Madrid race, and drew the number 13 in it. Fortunately, perhaps, for Mr. Forbes, if he intended to drive it, however, this monster was not ready by May 15th, the date of the race, and did not leave the factory until June 41h, 1903. In its first, trials it did 120 k.p.h., but the engine overheated slightly. Three weeks later, after minor modifications, it was doing 13:i k.p.h. at Dourdan, whereupon its designer was so pleased with it that he entered it, for the Deauville meeting. Mr. Forbes, however, had other ideas, and before the car had really shown its paces in public., insisted on taking it to America, where, adds Faroux maliciously, Ike was very soon had up for ” furious riding.” By way of proof that this brain-child of his had really ‘existed,
however, the Editor of La Vie Automobile illustrated his article with a photograph of a rather ugly racing car with a forward mounted radiator, Mrs. Forbes at the wheel and the bonnet removed to show the six-cylinders, as large as life, or almost larger. And yet.” modestly pursued the merciless Plump:, rubbing salt into the now . gaping wounds of the unfortimate Mr. Edge, ” I myself was not the first.” La Locomotion Automobile of November 10th, 1901, shows that at that date the Spyker firm had already started work on its six-cylinder car. Le Vito of November 8th, 1902, published a letter from Holland saying: that the car had then been built. It Was shown at the Paris Salon or December, 1903, and ” I. Elsworth pile English agent for Spykers] adds that . . . he had seen six chassis in the factory at TrOmperburg, Amsterdam, at least twelve months before December, 1903.” After finally mentioning Roulet, a Frenchman who even earlier had built a car with a six-cylinder, horizontally opposed, engine, Faroux summed up as follows
“CONCLUSION. It would hardly be possible to compress more inexactitudes into fewer words than does the Napier advertisement.
” It is not true to say that the Napier was the first six-cylinder car. To be exact, Napier only arrived at six-cylinders after five other makers.
” It is not true to say that every other six-cylinder car is a copy of the Napier principle. The six-cylinder principle belongs to Fernand Forest who built, a stationary engine of this type in 1885. None of us who forestalled Napier in the development of the six-cylinder .engine ever thought of incurring the ridicule of such a claim. ” Finally, has anyone the right to say that the Napier is still the best sixcylinder car ? I have tried the Napier,
and it is a very good car . but I have also tried the Rolls-Royce, and it is a marvellous car ! “
[ fancy that that was the most unkindest cut of all. ” I think,” Faroux had said earlier on in his article, ” that after the Napier firm has taken note of the documents that we shall submit, the text of its advertisement will disappear from the English periodicals.” If he really thought so, he did not know his S. F. Edge. From the Motor of July 18th, 1911, that is to say of a full two months after the appearance of Faroux’ article, I cull the following, from the page taken not actually by Napiers, but by S. F. Edge, Ltd. “The NAPIER is the Original Six Cylinder Car and every other six-cylinder car is -}1 copy of the Napier Principle . . . the proved best car.” Alai yet the article in La Vie Automobile had not passed unnoticed in this country. Indeed, it had been summarised in a letter, once more ” another anonymous letter,” in the Autocar, and, on June, 10th, 1911. Mr. S. F. Edge was given t tic opportunity to reply, ” to close tlie correspondence,” which he did in part in a remarkable couple of sentences of which the following is an extract : ” . . . they now try to help their case by dragging up obscure paragraphs from a foreign paper relating to some unknown make of motor car, suggest ing that a man of the name of’ houet made a six-cylinder motor car prior to the Napier. Despite the French paper referred to I cannot find that the statement therein referred to is correct, but the reference U0 the Spyker six-cylinder which it is suggested ‘MIS seen in the Spyker works in December, 1902, is obviously untrue :tad evidently the Mr. ELsworth referred to must have been mistaken in saying Butt he had seen it in )902 because curiously enough I find that the Elsworth .’,ittoolohile Co. are referred to February 20th, 1904, in the Antocar, page 241, and it is there stated that the six-cylinder Spyker had not even yet arrived ; that is to say, according to Mr. Elsworth the car,
although in the works in 1902, had not arrived at the Crystal Palace by 1904..
How such a farrago of prevarication could ever have been allowed to “close a correspondence ” almost passes comprehension. Earlier in his letter, Mr. Edge had more or less accepted M. Faroux’ date of February 20th, 1904, as that of the first appearance of the sixcylinder Napier. But if ” obscure paragraphs from a foreign paper ” stated that ” a man of the name of Louet ” hail made a six-cylinder car befOre t his, then Mr. Edge ” could not find ” that this statement was correct. Let us see if we could have helped Mr. Edge, and without having recourse to obscure paragraphs from foreign papers. Let MY turn to the .lutorar itself of December -19th, 1903, where, on page 740, in itsdescription of the Paris Salon, it states that “on the stand of E. IAmet is found a six-cylinder engine with mechanically-operated valves, and two carburetters, one to each three cylinders. but with a common float-feed chamber.” This carburetter arrangement, so widely used in later years on six-cylinder engines, one may remark in passing, suggests that this min of the name of Leniet already knew quite a lot abliut six-cylinder induction problems. But what about the six-cylinder Spyker which, “according to Mr. Elsworth, although in the works in 1902, had not arrived at the Crystal Palace by 1904 ” ? Here Mr. Edge himself gives us the reference, and sure enough the Autocar of February 20th, 1004, on the page quoted, reveals that “early visitors to the show were disappointed to hear the 80-1t.p. six-cylinder Spyker racer would not arrive till Monday.” By the next week it had arrived, and the Autoear published a photograph of it ; this might all the same have been some indication that it had only just been completed, and had not existed in 1902, were it not for the fact that it clearly did exist a couple of months earlier. ” The other salient remarkable feature of the stand,” says the Autoear of December 19th, 1903, in its report of the Paris Salon, ” is the six-cylinder Spyker in which all four wheels are driven. The rear pair are rotated through a clutch, gear, propellor shaft and bevel gear, but the gear is provided with an extra gearshaft, from which a propellor shaft. suitably articulated, runs forward to the steering axle—-which is a live axle in this ease–and this is it lid with it differential gear and bevel wheel exactly as in the ease of its rearward fellow. The steering axle, therefore, drives the steering wheels through ball joints. which permit of them being delleete41 for purposes of direct-ion. Mr. Elswort It, who was on the st:wd, assured its that this car was remarkably handy and proof against. side-slip. We are looking forward to a trial run on this interesting vehicle when it arrives in England.” From which it would appear that the Autocar representative had quite a good look at this six-cylinder Jeep in December, 1903, and although I cannot trace that. a trial run on it was ever reported on after it arrived in England, if Mr. Elsworth is to be believed, he had-already tried it. out for side-slip. The fact that it was late arriving at the Crystal Palace, therefore, was no evidence at all as to
when it was built and constituted no proof whatsoever that it was not in the Spyker works in 1902.
And yet the absurd part about the whole thing is that Mr. Edge had, in my opinion, an exceedingly good ease, if only he had been content not. to overstate it so grossly. No doubt Fernand Forest did make a six-cylinder Stationary engine in 1885, but the fact is hardly germane to the question as to who made the first six-cylinder automobile. No doubt Mallet did build a car with a six-cylinder horizontally-opposed engine at about the turn of the century, but this was not the type of six-cylinder engine which set the fashion under discussion in 1911. No doubt M. Faroux did build a six-cylinder racing car for Mr. Forbes in 1903, but on his own showing this was a special ” one-off job,” and there is no indication that it was so successful that M. Faroux was tempted to build another. The same considerations, I suspect, apply to the Louet, and the evidence with regard to the Diirkopp appears to be exceedingly nebulous. As to the other ” British-made automobile having six-cylinders ” to be seen at the Crystal Palace Show of 1904, this was a Sunbeam, but as its engine had a threethrow crankshaft, with two big-ends on each throw, even its makers were in no hurry to claim, in 1911, that it was the legitimate ancestor of the then so popular six-cylinder motor-car.
There remains, then, only the sixcylinder Spyker, and I ant quite prepared to believe that work was started on this car in 1901, that Mr. Elsworth saw half-adozen chassis at the works in 1902, and that at least one appeared at the Paris Salon in December, 1903, at which date the first six-cylinder Napier was still not completed. But even these facts could, in my opinion, have been dealt with by Mr. Edge, if he had only resisted the temptation to deny them. For what., in fact, was the six-cylinder Spyker ? The AntomotOr Journal of December 19th, 1903, in its report of the Paris Salon, supplies the answer. ” A six-cylinder engine,” it remarks, ” is fitted to a Spyker racing car, which was built to Lake part in the Gordon Bennett race, but these abnormal multi-cylinder motors can hardly be said to have caught on as yet.” Reverting to the Spyker on January 2nd, 1904, the same paper reveals that ” the latest models were shown recently at the Paris Exhibition, when an additional interest was lent to the company’s stall by the presence of a six-cylinder racing car built by them, which may compete for the Gordon Bennett Cup. Four types of standard touring vehicles are now being Made, the smallest of these having a twin-cylinder 10-h.p. engine, and the others having four-cylinder engines . . .” In other words, the six-cylinder Spyker was. not a standard touring model at all, but a special racing car built for the Gordon Bennett contest, in which, be it noted, it did not in fact take part. This suggests that it may not have been a great success, although I am inclined to think that its failure, if fail it did, was probably due less to its six-cylinder engine than to its four-wheel drive, an arrangement which has since defeated Corttiotted onpage 5t,18
other designers of racing ears Who tried it a good many years after the Spyker brothers. The six-cylinder Napier Which made its first appearance in February, 1004, on the other hand,” was a genuine standard model and identipal in all essential respects with the later sixcylinder standard models made continuously by Napiers thereafter until they gave up making motor oars, It was these models, and those subsequently. made by Rolls-Royce; which by 1911 had set a fashion for the world. For the moment the correspondence on the subject was closed, but, curiously. enough, ten years later it broke out all over again, when, on March 19th, 1921, the Autocar published a letter from the -British Spyker Co., Ltd., whose ‘ parent company in Holland was again making a six-cylinder model, and whose letter reiterated the Spyker claim to Priority in the matter, based on the evidence collected by Faroux in 1911. There was no Mr. S. F. Edge now to reply on behalf of Napier, for while: Mr. S. F. Edge was still going strong, it was no longer on behalf of Napier that he exercised his .strength, the Autorear. in the self-same number in which the Spyker letter appeared, reporting that “On the invitation of Mr. S. F. Edge, who, as he stated in a little speech of welcome, has been persuaded to take an interest in the production Of this elegant little car for many reasons, we Were enabled to visit the Auto-Carrier works at Tiuunes Ditton last week and to inspect the vehicle in the making.” It was of the A.C. and not of the Napier that readers of Mr. Edge’s contributions to the correspondence column were to learn the merits in the years to come. In the meantime, the defence of the Napier case was left to Mr. H. T. Vane, the then Managing Director, who conducted it with :a restraint which was in marked contrast to the ebullience of his predecessor, and, I may say, all the more effective On that account. Having extracted, from the British Spyker Co., Ltd., the admission that, while they did not know, without asking Amsterdam, “for how many months” they continued to make their early six-cylinder model, but that it was ” not for very long,” Mr. Vane proceeded to quote a. view expressed by the Queen with regard to the six-cylinder motor car that “the general acceptance and adoption of that type not only in this country but on the Continent and in America was due to the persistence, enterprise and success of the Napier people.” But alas! so far from being able to count on Mr. Edge as an ally, Mr. Vane now found him among his critics. The quotation front the Queen, wrote the latter a week later, ” is, as Mr. Vane knows, not Correct. S. F. Edge and S. F. Edge, Ltd., plIshpd forward the merits of the sis-eylinder and made the
world adopt it. [Signed I S. F. Edge.” After which. as if to add injury to insult, he proceeded, the next year, to set up adouble-twelve-hour record at. the wheel of a six-cylinder Spyker. [But with a Mercedes engine 1—En.]
For all that, I still think that, as a result of the 1921 correspondence, Mr. Vane was left more satisfactorily. in possession of the field than Mr. Edge had been in 1911. One particularly interesting point, however, arose as a result of the letter from the British Spyker Co., Ltd. ” By the way,” the
Writer ended up, ” the original [sixcylinder) Spyker is still in existence, and could, in point of hut, he put into running order again without 11111(.11 trouble.”
Was it, I wonder, in Holland or in this country ? And if this car, on which work seems to have started in 1901, was still in existence. in 1921, is it, wonder, still in existence in 1950 ?If so, I wish some knowledgeable reader of MOTOR SPORT would tell Mr. Karslake about it, so that he pould include it in his ” Veteran Types ” serie‘; of articles.