1933 was a bleak year for automobile manufacturers around the world. The global depression had affected virtually every economy and there were a great number of manufacturers who could not weather the storm. In Britain, it was no different. Bentley had been run out of resources and was acquired by Rolls Royce in 1931, and others such as Alvis and Lagonda were struggling mightily to survive. Invicta, builder of low-slung sporting automobiles, were facing the end of the road as well. Invicta’s founder, Noel Macklin, had been with the company since 1925 but in seeing the troubles ahead, he sold his shares and Invicta moved from Cobham, Surrey to Chelsea, London in 1933, eventually folding in 1938. Rather than resign to failure, Macklin teamed up with Reid Railton later in 1933 to form the Fairmile Engineering Company. Rather cleverly, Macklin brought Railton on board mainly to use his famous name for their new marque. Reid Railton had designed several land and water speed-record vehicles during the period when the World Speed Record had achieved massive global popularity. Railton had designed the iconic Campbell-Napier-Railton Bluebird vehicles with Sir Malcolm Campbell, the famous aero-engine Napier-Railton and many other significant watercraft and land-based vehicles.
Rather than start with a clean sheet, Macklin took advantage of the budding popularity of American cars in England. Their straight line performance was superior to that of most home-market offerings, though American build quality and questionable handling left quite a bit to be desired. Using Hudson’s innovative and high-performance 8-cylinder Terraplane as a base, Macklin’s new machine combined the performance and robust drivetrain of the Terraplane but with a lighter, higher-quality body and sophisticated chassis. Railton’s involvement - beyond lending his name to the project - was to tune the chassis to suit British roads and buyer’s needs, centered on high-tech Andre Telecontrol shock absorbers. The resulting automobiles were an instant hit, particularly with the traditionally fickle British motoring press – with Autocar declaring it “ten years ahead of its time”. The Railton was faster, smoother and more powerful than virtually any other car in its class.
We are very pleased to offer this gorgeous 1937 Railton Stratton Saloon, a beautifully restored CCCA Senior Award-winning example. Wearing a wonderful four-door saloon body by Coachcraft, it presents in outstanding condition in black over a tan leather interior. The coachwork is understated yet elegant with plenty of fine detailing. It wears a single side mount spare wheel with a full painted cover, a vinyl covered roof, and the integrated trunk features an interesting split lid design. The bonnet lid is held in place with exposed piano hinge detailed with exposed, polished rivets along the bonnet line. A beautifully crafted radiator shell is plated in high quality chrome and flanked with lovely headlamps and frame-mounted driving lamps. Jet-black paintwork is gorgeous, laid down over very straight and properly fitted bodywork. Subtle cream coach stripes highlight the body lines and the black vinyl roof is trimmed in polished alloy moldings for a wonderfully subtle look – particularly with the car riding on black disc wheels with blackwall tires.
A highlight of this restoration is the fabulous interior trimmed in tan leather with chocolate brown piping and carpets. A large sunroof makes for an airy feel for driver and front passenger, while rear passengers enjoy a laid-back seating in a cozy cabin. The headlining is properly trimmed in tan broadcloth and the leather remains in very good condition since the restoration. Beautifully restored wood trim features on the door caps, window surrounds, sunroof opening and gorgeous dash. Original instruments are featured in the center cluster, all beautifully restored.
Of course, the robust Hudson drivetrain has also been restored to a high level along with the rest of this fine car. The engine was fully rebuilt as part of the restoration and remains in very strong running order. It presents in excellent condition with correct red paint on the engine and black ancillaries. Polished alloy features on the firewall as well as the “faux” rocker cover; a clever bit of original decoration designed to make the flathead Hudson engine appear as a more sophisticated overhead-valve unit. The engine is mated to a manual transmission, also rebuilt during the resto. Combined with the lighter weight and advanced chassis, this Railton makes for a surprisingly sprightly driver’s car.
Rare, handsome and desirable, this Railton Stratton combines a reliable, high-performance Hudson drivetrain with a sophisticated European chassis and handsome coachbuilt bodywork. The full nut-and-bolt restoration cost in excess of $135,000 and has been well documented with photos and records. This CCCA award-winning example is one of the best we’ve encountered. By its very nature it is a fine driving car, exceptionally well-suited for touring or rallies and certainly beautiful enough for show.