My Car Quest

March 31, 2023

The First European Designed Car Powered By American Muscle – The Railton

by Mike –

As far as I can tell the Railton is the earliest example of a European designed car that uses American power. This car is the predecessor to the Shelby Cobra, the Allard, the Jensen Interceptor, the Iso Grifo, the Apollo GT and the Bizzarrini GT 5300 plus many others.


1933 Railton

Railton was a British car manufacturer founded by Noel Macklin after he sold his Invicta Company in 1933. The company was named after Reid Railton, a car designer who designed the Railton Mobil Special car that set the Land Speed Record at 394.7 mph in 1947.

The first Railton model was powered by an 8-cylinder Hudson and used the Hudson Terraplane chassis with a body made by Ranalah. This was a two-door car and later a four-door sedan was added.

In 1935 the chassis was replaced by the Hudson Eight chassis and the engine capacity increased to 4,168 cc.

Two lightweight models were made in 1935 with acceleration from zero to 60 MPH in 8.8 seconds. Railton claimed to be the fastest production car in the world in 1935.

1,379 examples of this 8-cylinder model were produced.

In 1937 a 6-cylinder model was added powered by the 2,723 cc Hudson engine. It was available as a sedan or convertible with 81 being produced.

In 1938 a 10 hp 4-cylinder engine was introduced and several different coachbuilders were used making both a sedan and convertible. A total of 51 examples of this model were made.

Noel Macklin sold Railton to the Hudson Motor Car Company in 1939; however, the outbreak of World War II in 1939 was the end for Railton. After the war a few Railtons were completed using existing parts and a new model was shown at the 1949 London Motor Show but this model did not go into production.

The Railton is one of the car manufactures profiled in my book European Style with American Muscle.

Photos by Michael Menetto at the Marin Sonoma Concours d’Elegance in 2010.


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