NAPIER 60HP TYPE 21 ROI-DES-BELGES TOURER
Napier built the world’s first production 6-cylinder engine and was one of England’s premier motor car manufacturers. They were one of the few manufacturers to build their own coachwork.
In 1907 S.F. Edge (Napier’s top salesman) sold six Napiers to the Nizam of Hyderabad in India, including this actual car. For some unknown reason one chassis, this one, was never delivered to the Nizam and remained in the UK. This rolling chassis was subsequently fitted out with a seat and large fuel tank and used to demonstrate the reliability of the Napier. Together with two other Napiers, Edge drove non-stop for 24 hours on the new Brooklands motor circuit, before it was officially opened. It was an unprecedented achievement; he covered a total distance of 1581 miles (2544 kilometres), averaging a speed of 66 mph (106 km/h). The record was to stand for 17 years. The car had to make frequent stops for new tyres, facilitated by the use of centrelock wheels, made by BSA.
The engine of the T21 was officially rated at 60 HP but could achieve 90 HP when revved higher. The engine can run at about twice the speed (2500 RPM) than that of the competition. Furthermore, the Napier T21 was equipped with the newest high tension ignition and pressurised engine lubrication. The car was also famed for its excellent road- holding. Out of a total of 103 Napier T21s built, only three are known to exist today. In 2019 the Louwman Museum fitted the chassis with period-correct coachwork to return the car to its original delivery configuration. The body style, Roi-des-Belges (King of the Belgians) is named after the favourite coachwork of His Majesty King Leopold II of Belgium.
It represents the absolute pinnacle of motor car production of the era. Few would challenge its position as the finest motor car of its time.