1926/27 Arab 2.0-Litre Low Chassis Super Sports
From the foregoing it will be obvious that the Arab is a very rare motor car that presented here being one of only two known survivors. Arab Motors had been founded in Letchworth, Hertfordshire in 1922 by automotive engineer Reid Railton on his departure from Leyland Motors, where he had assisted the company's chief engineer, J G Parry-Thomas, on the design of the Leyland Eight luxury car. Two members of the Spurrier family, Leyland's founders, were directors of Arab Motors. The Arab's 2.0-litre overhead-camshaft four-cylinder engine represented yet another link with Leyland, for its valves were closed by leaf springs, just like those of the Parry-Thomas-designed Eight. However, the Arab arrangement was a considerable advance on that of the Leyland, using two cams per cylinder to the Eight's one, together with offset rockers, thus enabling valve timing overlap with its attendant advantage of greater power (see article in Motor Sport, April 1984 edition). Railton's engine had been installed in various racing prototypes prior to the formation of Arab Motors. Introduced in 1926, the production low chassis model was priced at £550 and was guaranteed by the factory to have a top speed of 90mph.
Following the death in 1927 of his friend Parry-Thomas, killed driving the 'Babs' land speed record car at Pendine Sands, Railton closed the Arab factory and moved to Brooklands working for Thomson & Taylor. Parry-Thomas had been Major Ken Thomson's partner in Thomson Inventions Development Co Ltd, which became Thomson & Taylor after his death. Railton took over as the company's Technical Director with responsibility for John Cobb's Napier-Railton that took the Brooklands Outer Circuit record in 1933, as well as Sir Malcolm Campbell's Bluebird land speed record cars of 1931 to 1935. While at Thomson & Taylor he also designed the chassis of the ERA and post-war was responsible for the Railton Mobil Special that John Cobb used to set a new land speed record of 394.7mph in 1947.
The car presented here is the first Arab low chassis model and was assembled at Thomson & Taylor's Brooklands premises following the closure of the Letchworth factory. It was originally completed with engine number 'EA 12' but in 1936 was fitted with 'EA 20' from one of Railton's earlier racers. Known as the 'Spurrier Railton', the latter had been raced by Railton, Sir Henry Spurrier and Messrs Parker and Shorrock. Railton competed with it in the 75mph Short Handicap and 90mph Long Handicap events at the Brooklands Easter Meeting in 1924, and the car also raced at Southport and elsewhere. The engine's casting date of 1923 and a contemporary photograph from the late Sir Henry Spurrier's albums both confirm its origins.
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