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Built from Standard Parts Feature

The Baby Railton

In 1938 the Railton Company made a small number of cars on the  Flying 10 chassis. This is the first time that I have featured them on the website.

This features gives a brief history of  Railton Cars Ltd. of Cobham in Surrey, who date back to 1933.

Noel Macklin, having sold his interest inInvista, became the driving force behind the Railton car. He saw possibilities in using an American chassis with British style bodywork.

Macklin consulted Reid Railton, who had made his name designing chassis for World Land Speed Record cars and sport cars at Thomson & Taylor in Cobham. Using the name Railton would also help the image of a fast and sporting car.

They decided on the straight 8 Hudson Essex-Terraplane chassis of 1933 to form the basis of the new car. The 4010 cc side-valve engine produced nearly 100 bhp.

The resulting Railton-Terraplane had a radiator designed by Gordon Crosby, a famous motor sports artist, similar to the Invicta. The first cars, with open tourer bodies, were marketed at £499 and considered good value.

By 1934 they were simply known as Railton and utilised the Hudson 8 chassis, as the Terraplane had been discontinued. Although still an eight-cylinder side-valve unit, the capacity had increased to 4168 cc, giving 113 bhp. Various body styles from many coachbuilders were available.

1935 was the peak year for production with 377 cars sold.

From 1936 the Hudson was available in two chassis lengths and the Railton followed suit. Longer chassis still were used in 1937.

A six-cylinder Railton was introduced in 1938 as well as a small Railton based on the Standard Flying 10 chassis. Priced at nearly £300, these smaller cars were not popular, and only 37 coupés and 14 saloons were built. The Standard 10 was priced at £177 10s.

In 1939 a 3.5 litre six-cylinder car, again based on the Hudson, was launched. By now Noel Macklin was concentrating on his boat building business and sold Railton Cars to Hudson Motors Ltd. who assembled a small number of cars in Chiswick.

Around 1500 cars had been made and the company had always been profitable.

After the war, Carbodies, Martin Walter and Whittingham & Mitchel bodied some pre-war chassis as Railton's. And in 1950 Airflow Streamline made an expensive drophead. Hudson was no longer making separate chassis and constraints made by the British government stopped the regular import of chassis.

William Towns attempted to revive the Railton name in 1991 with a re-bodied Jaguar XT-S priced at £105,000. Towns was shortly to die taking the project with him.

This article features the only 2 photographs of baby Railtons that I have. If anyone has any more material, photos or driving experience, the webmaster would be delighted to hear from you.

 Phil Homer