The photographs of this 1904 Napier L48 Sampson were taken by my friend Daniel Talbot recently in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. The Napier was one of about 70 vehicles that were taken to Kalgoorlie recently to celebrate the Lake Perkolilli Centenary of Speed – an event held on a large claypan from 1914 to 1939. The claypan is essentially a dried out lake and was used as a makeshift circuit by dare-devils and speedsters from across Australia during the first half of the 20th century. It doesn’t rain much in that part of the world but it did on this occasion and the event was cancelled, but not before the Napier and a few other early arrivals got a run around the four kilometre dirt track.
This Napier is a reconstruction built around an original 15 litre, straight 6 cylinder, engine which broke the world land speed record at Ormond Beach in Florida. The car has been exhibited at the Pebble Beach Concourse in California USA where it won the most historic car. It has competed in hill-climbs in the United Kingdom and various speed events around Australia. When not being used in competition, the vehicle is on display at the York Motor Museum in Western Australia. It was the first British car to exceed 100 miles per hour and also powered a record-breaking speedboat called the Nautilus. The Napier is a crank-start but, due to its enormous size, the preferred method of getting the engine started is by towing.