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Paris-Madrid Rally

1903 Napier

Gordon Bennett Race 1903, British team

In May 2014 the National Motor Museum entered the 1903 Napier into the H&H Paris-Madrid Rally. The Museum was competing for the Charles Jarrott Trophy, in honour of the pioneering British driver who led the field in the Paris-Madrid rally of 1903. It was particularly fitting that the Museum's Napier should compete for this Trophy, as this historic machine was actually driven by Jarrott himself in the 1903 Gordon Bennett Race.

1903 Napier at the 2014 Paris-Madrid Rally

The 1903 Napier at the 2014 Paris-Madrid Rally (image courtesy of Activfoto)

On Friday morning 23 May the Museum's Napier left the start line of the Paris-Madrid rally wearing the number one that Charles Jarrott's car had also worn when he began the same race 111 years before. The Napier started well, leaving Versailles at a good pace and drawing a fantastic response from the spectators. Unfortunately a fuel blockage later in the day reduced the power causing delays, which were compounded by the water pump shaft working loose.

Overnight the pump was repaired and the Napier continued from Limoge and finally onto Madrid, each day not completing the entire distance but giving a fantastic display of the abilities of this 111 year old vehicle. It also brought to light the great achievements of Jarrott and his follow competitors who competed at average speeds of 90kph on vastly inferior road surfaces.

The 1903 Napier is a significant vehicle in the history of British motor sport, representing the heroic pioneering era of continental road races and the Gordon Bennett Cup and is one of the oldest surviving British racing cars. The Napier demonstrates just why the National Motor Museum needs support to maintain and run these pioneering motor vehicles for the nation and future generations to appreciate and admire.


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