1900 - 1924
The long-established precision engineering firm of D Napier & Son of Lambeth in London began making motorcars in 1900 at the behest of S F Edge who entered into an agreement with Montague Napier to have the exclusive rights to sell all of the firm's output of motor vehicles. Edge energetically promoted the make, achieving Britain's first motor racing success when he won the 1902 Gordon Bennett Trophy race driving a Napier. For the 1904 season the first commercially viable six-cylinder motorcar was introduced and this 'Noiseless Napier' set the fashion in luxury cars for many years to come.
Edge and Napier opened an American factory in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1904, but most early production relied on imported English components, only the car bodies being made locally.
The firm gradually diversified its activities, Edge left the business in 1912, and motorcar manufacture ceased in 1924. However, Napier had become a major maker of aviation and marine engines and although it was taken over by English Electric in 1945, Napier engines continued to be made for many more years.
During 1899 Montague Napier became involved with motorcars when at his long established engineering firm in Lambeth, London, he converted the Panhard-Levassor of S F Edge from tiller to wheel steering and fitted it with a Napier engine. Napier cars soon followed and Edge undertook to handle all of the firm’s output providing he had exclusive rights to sell them. He energetically promoted the make and in 1902 won the Gordon Bennett Trophy race, resulting in a surge in demand for Napiers and a new factory was built in Acton, West London. For the 1904 season the first commercially viable six-cylinder motorcar was introduced and a 'Noiseless Napier' rapidly became the English car to own.
Montague Napier diversified activities to also make smaller cars, taxicabs and commercial vehicles, and parted company with Edge in 1912. During the Great War development began of aero engines that resulted in the magnificent 'Lion'. Motorcar manufacture ended in 1924 and after years of making a range of outstanding aero engines Napier was taken over by English Electric in 1945.