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Railton University Cobham Saloon


Herman Deroost


Railtons were built by the Fairmile Engineering Company in Cobham, Surrey. This company was the enterprise of Noel Macklin who had been building Invicta cars at the same premises. Invictas were hand built using expensive materials and were no longer selling. Macklin was determined to produce a car with similar performance and good coachwork at an affordable price. Following evaluation, he was very impressed by the performance of the new Terraplane model launched by Hudson Motors in 1932 and came to an agreement to import the straight eight cylinder chassis. Improvements to the chassis and suspension were carried out so that they handled in a way more to the liking of British motorists. He then contracted several independent coachbuilders to design and construct Light Tourers, Drop Head Coupes and Saloons. F. Gordon Crosby, the well known motoring artist, designed the Railton radiator grille in a similar style to the Invicta; Reid Railton, the designer of Land Speed Record cars agreed to his name being used for the new car.

Production began in 1933 and continued up until the outbreak of WWII. Six cars were assembled during the war for use by the Metropolitan Police. After the war four more cars were built using chassis stored for the duration and two cars were constructed on post war chassis.

The majority of the cars were of 8 cylinders, 4168 cc, 28.8 HP engine capacity. From 1936 two smaller 6 cylinder engines were available producing 21.6 and 16.9 HP in order to supply demand for cars in the lower road fund tax charges bracket. In 1938 Railton Cars also launched a small 10 HP car. This was based on a Standard Flying 9 chassis fitted with a 10 HP engine. These were effectively a miniature copy of the Coachcraft Fairmile Drop Head Coupe and Cobham saloon which were available on the larger chassis. Some 50 of these little cars were made.

As the 1930’s progressed, the Hudson 8 cylinder chassis became longer, wider and heavier which resulted in the engine being installed with a twin choke carburettor and manifolding. As a result the power increased slightly to 122 BHP at about 3800 r.p.m. This was fairly impressive at the time for an un-tuned side valve engine but could be increased easily by the fitment of the optional alloy cylinder head.

All 8 cylinder chassis, when combined with light coachwork, produced a car with staggering acceleration, torque and top gear flexibility.

The Railton presented here is a Railton University Cobham Saloon Straight Eight 1935. This car known as MG 4380, is the only survivor from 28 produced.

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