There have been many incredible specials and aero-engined leviathans from the Vintage Sports-car Club over the years, but the 24-litre Napier-bentley of Chris Williams has arguably been the most entertaining. And successful.
Williams has used the car at a range of venues, from Silverstone to Shelsley Walsh, taking on – and sometimes beating – more agile machines like Morgans and Bugattis.
His beast is powered by a Napier Lion aero engine that produces 600bhp and, more importantly, 1250lb/ft of torque. That’s immense enough to make the four-speed gearbox largely redundant, with Williams using top gear even at Mallory Park’s Shaw’s Hairpin. Between 1800rpm and 2000rpm power also goes from 220bhp to 470bhp, perhaps helping to explain why the rear of the car is often wreathed in tyre smoke.
Built on a 1929 Bentley chassis by David Llewellyn and Peter Morley in the ’70s, the Napier-bentley was based on the successful Pacey-hassan special.
Initially banned from the Brighton Speed Trials for setting fire to some straw bales, the car’s early circuit forays weren’t too successful either, both Llewellyn and Morley suffering crashes. But Morley persevered and started winning, keeping the car until finally giving in to Williams’s regular attempts to buy it in 1999.
Williams fitted a silencer – hard to believe if you have ever heard it – to allow it to compete at more venues, and has become a popular VSCC regular. There’s nothing quite like looking into the Silverstone sky expecting to see a vintage aircraft, only for Williams to appear from under the bridge as he approaches Brooklands. KT