Best known for its highly successful WWI aero engines, the precision engineering firm of D Napier & Son of Lambeth was first established in 1808. Headed by Montague Napier, the company turned to automobile manufacture at the turn of the 19th Century, swiftly forging a formidable reputation thanks to the racing and record breaking exploits of its sole distributor, S F Edge. The company manufactured a diverse range of engine types before introducing the world's first commercially successful six in 1904 and moving into the luxury car market. Outclassed by Rolls-Royce's Silver Ghost, Napier's larger models faded away after 1911, to be replaced by more modest offerings.
Developed from an earlier 15hp model launched in 1907 as a more affordable foil to the huge sixes that had established Napier's reputation, the four-cylinder 15hp introduced at Olympia in 1910 was the company's most successful model. 'A sturdy car without frills,' it cost £350 in chassis form, to which Napier's own four-seater bodywork added an extra £80 (plus an extra £7 for the windscreen). The 15hp Colonial model was produced especially for those countries where rough roads prevailed, featuring raised suspension, larger wheels and an engine installed 'back to front' so that the large flywheel was protected by the front axle. As the flywheel rotated in the opposite direction to other Napiers, it was dubbed the 'anti-clockwise' model.
Little is known of the history of this particular Napier, which carried a van body after WWI before (it is believed) having the original body reinstated in the 1930s. The car is believed to have been in the same ownership since the 1930s and has been off the road since 1980. We are advised that the engine and gearbox numbers match and that both would have left the factory in chassis number '7759'. However, at time of cataloguing a chassis plate or number stamping had not been found. Chassis records suggest that this car is in the first 500 of the 3,274 15hp models built between 1909 and 1914. Bonhams would like to thank Napier Power Heritage of their assistance with records and identification. There are no documents with this Lot, which is offered for restoration and sold strictly as viewed.