1903 Napier Racer

The Louwman Museum's 1904 Gordon Bennett Cup Racer (from the collection of the author)
I've written about this amazing car previously and thought I'd revisit it as Dad photographed the car - seeing it for the first time in over 50 years upon his visit to the marvelous Louwman Museum. Back when Dad was a kid, and a member of the VMCCA as a teen, this car was owned by George Waterman - one of the preeminent collectors of the day. Dad saw the car after is restoration in the 1950s. 

D. Napier & Son Limited gained notoriety for their automobile manufacturing through racing - specifically their 1902 win in the Gordon Bennett Cup Race. It was this win that brought the race back to England which prohibited motor racing at the time. The race organizers quickly made plans to hold the 1903 race in neighboring Ireland. Napier painted their car green in honor of the host country and "British Racing Green" was born.

This car was built in 1903 and raced at the Elimination Trials held on the Isle of Man to select the British team for the 1904 Gordon Bennett Cup race. The car was crashed (breaking the front axle) and Napier (nor this car) made the team. As was the custom at the time, Napier decommissioned its race cars after the factory was through with them, selling them to the public. It is thought that this car was imported into the United States sometime prior to 1912 by H. M. Bater, a mechanic who was in the employ of The Napier Motor Company of America of Jamaica Plain, MA (a suburb of Boston). Bater was responsible for importing a number of cars into the country and one of his customers (one of Napier's best American customers) was Mr. A.W. Erickson (Arioch Wentworth Erickson) of Swamscott, MA. George Waterman would find both a 1906 touring car and this 1903 racer in the Erickson family carriage house around 1940 - purchasing both.

The 1903 Napier when owned by George Waterman (from the collection of the author)


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