|The following is an account written by Ivan Forshaw on how he went about finding and restoring the 1904 Napier:
"In the years immediately following the war I thought I would very much like to own an Edwardian or veteran car a Napier of low horsepower, as I was much taken by the early history of this company.
I was also friendly at the time with Roger Barker, who was a Napier enthusiast and who owned a 1909 30hp car, which had a excellent history and was a very nice car. Barker, being short of money, later exchanged it with Major Browell for a post First World war 40/50 Napier, £250 and 14 gallons of petrol, which was rationed at the time.
This was a wonderful car but completely lacking the charms of an Edwardian. I went with Barker in the 1909 Napier to Elford's Engineering at Southbourne, where there was said to be a Napier in the yard.
At that time Elfords Engineering consisted of a number of rather dilapidated lock up garages. Elford senior was a dreadful and rude old man but the report about the Napier was correct, it was 1903 and a small one, later identified as a racing car driven by none other than Charles Jarrott.
It was in a dreadful condition, having been outside for many years and covered in old oil drums and rubbish. Elford said he wanted £50 for it, a substantial sum in those days, and if we didn't want the car to get the hell off the property.
In the meantime I spoke to everyone I met who might have knowledge of an early car and the man who came to read the gas meter told me there was one in a private house garage in Upper Parkstone, owned by a medical doctor.
This turned out to be a delightful little car, a Minerva of 1908 or 1909 with a 4 cylinder Knight sleeve valve engine, separate cylinders and cylinder heads. Unfortunately the head of one of the cylinders was on the seat of the car and it was cracked.
It seemed to me to be irreparable but it wouldn't worry me now, the doctor wanted £50 for it, with a new tyre and I didn't buy it. Perhaps it was a lucky escape as sleeve valved engine are notoriously difficult to recondition.
A scrap man told me of an early car at a farm in Stapleford near Salisbury. This was a pig farm and the stench was something else, owned by a family with the delightful name of Rhinel Tatt. It was in an old barn and old Mrs Rhinel Tatt had spent her honeymoon in it.
It was a 1903 De Dion and I hadn't the heart to worry the old lady for it. When I called at the farm some years later I found that the car had been taken by a person with no such scruples, they had badgered Mrs Rhinel Tatt and given her £30 for it in the absence of her sons, who were extremely angry about it.
In 1956 I was in the General Post Office in Parkstone, next in the que was a man named Kent, to whom I had previously spoken of the problem. The brothers Kent were a couple of Dorset worthies who traveled around farms buying scrap machinery, completely likeable and honest men.
Nothing had been found but I could have a word with his brother outside in the lorry. His brother Diver Kent wondered if a small chain driven lorry would do. He couldn't remember exactly where it was except that it was in Upton, close by the road and in a low barn.
If I found such a place the roof had collapsed and the car was inside. At an early opportunity I went to Upton and drove around until I found the old barn in Chapel Lane. Looking through the cracks in the door I saw the lorry inside, it was a magical moment!
A number of scrap men had wanted to buy the car but he wouldn't have it moved as it was pinned to the ground by the roof of the barn which had collapsed on top of the windscreen, if the car was moved the barn would fall down.
Then in 1955 there was a note in the Veteran Car Club Gazette that a small builder had found a body in the loft of a coach house and thought it shouldn't be destroyed. I got a telephone number for the man and rang him at once. Following a discussion it was clear that the body was a very early one and was probably just what was needed for the Napier and I told him that we should be along the following morning to see it.
His name was Humphries and he was in a mountain village in Snowdonia. I telephoned Frank Dovey at Totten, who said that his nephew Frankie had a pickup which we could borrow. He would come with me and we should set off at five o'clock the following morning.
I was at Frank's bungalow at that time and discovered that the pickup was still with Frankie, who was tucked up in bed when we got there. However we eventually got away. The pickup was a pretty terrible vehicle and I soon had a bad migraine, a complaint from which I suffered torments over a long period of years.
After finding our way along narrow lanes and steep hills, we eventually found Mr Humphries and were warmly received, given an excellent salad lunch and finally shown the body.
I should have mentioned that it was by no means unusual for a car to have two bodies in the early years, an open body for the summer and a closed body for winter time. Bodies were very cheap as coachbuilders had been making them for many years, and they knew exactly what they were doing, but cars and chassis were very expensive.
What happened was that the coach house was on an estate which had been bought by a company which supplied granite chipping's for road making. The coach house had got in the way of mining operations and Mr Humphries had been engaged to demolish it.
His men found the body in the roof and when he arrived on the scene were proposing to burn it, having stripped out part of the leatherwork and destroyed it. He stopped them feeling that someone would want the body.
The rims are screwed on to the felloes by long screws, the nuts of which should be tightened occasionally. Not too tight or the head of the screw will be pulled through the rim. There is danger, that the ragged edge of the hole in the rim, or the screw head itself, may chafe the tube, and puncture it.
A section of one felloe which was badly attacked by woodworm was replaced by Will Reeves. The wheels are old and loose, they need periodic removal and total immersion in water to swell them up, they move and creak like I tend to!
We have the choke tube which George made, and this could be opened up a little to experiment. Additionally we have made a simple manually operated choke lever for it, but although this is excellent for starting, it needs to be taken off soon after the engine starts.
The choke lever simply seals off the entry to the carburettors, thus increasing the suction on the jet. There is a spare diaphragm in the tool box, this is my own idea of what the arrangement and the parts should be like, and seems to be correct.
On the following day they delivered them to Westland at Yeovil, as they were supplying engines for the helicopters. Joe Pritchard, who was Westlands resident solicitor at the time, took charge of them and delivered them to Longham. Altogether it was a remarkable stroke of luck.
In total it took 25 years to re-build the Napier with its completion in 1982, from this point on the car and Ivan took part in 12 London to Brighton Veteran Car Runs from 1982 to 1995 finishing on every occasion.
Below are some of the remaining collection of photographs that cover the emergence of the Naiper and its London to Brighton Days.
Many men offered to help with the work and without such help the car could never have been completed in its present form or at all, the following is a list of the major contributors:
Clifford Rees - Reconditioned the gearbox and differential, he also rebuilt the ignition box, all of which called for much skilled work.
Derek Grossmark - Supplied the original ignition box in exchange for a Napier clock and some other small parts. Derek was a great Napier enthusiast and had three cars and a complete chassis at the time.
Phil Rideout - Who out of the goodness of his heart made the main and bigend bearings, and supplied the connecting rods at present in the engine. He also did other things, he largely machined the Commer crankshaft. The work on the engine could never have been done without Phil. No payment was made to him.
Jessie - Who gave me the pistons, cylinder liners, engine valves and timing gears.
John Morrow - Who elected to recondition the water pump and ended up making a completely new pump with improved seals and new driving wheel with leather discs.
Brian Horwood - Who made the Napier script which is on the front of the radiator core.
Frederick Prinee - The original chains were a mass of rust and Renolds declared them obsolete and refused to help. I appealed to Fred, who was at that time the owner of the Rotrax bicycle company, the makers of racing bicycles and Speedway frames. He was married to one of the Curry bicycle shop girls. Both were very substantial customers for chain and Renolds produced the chains for the Napier almost overnight and at very small cost. I ought to have asked for two sets! Fred also got the two front tyres from the Dunlop company. Cost £6.17s.6d each.
The Alvis Car Company - Who supplied two honeycomb radiators at negligible cost, they were £5 each delivered to Westland, thence to us by the resident Solicitor, we still have one.
The following were either in our employment or were employed specially to do the work:
George Williams - Who did an immense amount of work of every kind.
Willie Reeves - Painted the body and chassis by hand, was also responsible for fitting the body and all instruments.
K.A. Hughes - The sign writer, who lined out the wings and the bonnet.
Jack Millward - Who fitted the Alvis honeycomb into the Napier shell.
Hawkins - Who reset the roadsprings.
Millbrook Paints - Who supplied the Valentines paint that we used.
Rawhide - Who made good the missing leather in the body, rather rough. Raw working with David Watkins, it was a cheap job, leather from dismantled Lagonda cars was used and later dyed black with spirit dye.
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