400 m.p.h. Exceeded in One Direction
After certain preliminary troubles which are all but inseparable from an attempt to raise the World’s motor-car speed record, but which seriously try the unfortunate driver, John Cobb and his Railton-Mobil-Special succeeded. On September 16th, at Utah, the wonderful four-wheel-drive Railton with its two Napier “Lion” engines, covered the North to South mile at 385.645 m.p.h. and did its return run at 403.135 m.p.h., setting the record at 394.196 m.p.h. This is an improvement on Cobb’s 1939 speed, of 24 1/2 m.p.h.
The greatest credit is due to Reid Railton, who designed the car, and to Thomson and Taylor, Ltd., who built it, for providing such a fine driver as John Cobb with a car capable of exceeding 400 m.p.h. safely under very poor surface conditions. In this stop-press account we cannot pay tribute to all the equipment that enabled Britain to claim this historic speed, but certainly Dunlop, who made the special tyres, and Lucas, who provided the magnetos and certain electrical items of cockpit equipment, must feel very proud. The engines, overhauled at Acton before the attempt, were also a credit to their makers — they each develop 1,480 b.h.p. at 3,600 r.p.m., on a compression ratio of 6.62 to 1, being supercharged, “broad-arrow,” 12-cylinder, water-cooled units originally designed for the Schneider Trophy seaplane races. Each engine has a 4-throw crankshaft running in five uncaged roller races, twin o.h.c. on each of the three cylinder blocks, three carburetters, four valves per cylinder, and two Lucas magnetos. Ferodo and Lockheed looked after the braking, and David Brown made the transmission gears.