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Railton in the House

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By Chris Pollitt

Studio434, which is considered by many to be Europe’s largest private car collection, is awash with oddities. Aston Martin Lagondas aplenty, curious one-offs, coachbuilt beauties and everything in between make up this collection of over 460 cars. The breadth and diversity of this automotive gathering make it the perfect home for this, a 1989 Railton Claremont. 

If you’re not familiar, Railton was created back in 1933 by Noel Macklin, who was looking for a new car-making opportunity after selling his Invicta company. Apparently, the name stems from the Reid Railton who made his name designing world speed record cars. 

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Railtion University Saloon

The company offered exquisite, custom built cars from 1933 through to 1939. There was the Terraplane, an enormous two-door tourer that, thanks to its gargantuan 4.0 straight-eight engine, boasted 100mph and a 0-60 time of 13 seconds. That was a phenomenal number for a car in 1933, and it’s still an impressive figure for today for a car that’s only fractionally smaller than Westminster Abbey! 

A few more cars, each bigger, more powerful and laden with more luxury fixtures and fittings were built until 1939, but unfortunately, the buying public never really gravitated towards them. Companies like Rolls Royce and Bentley were well established in this segment, and as such, they won the sales. Plus, Macklin decided he wanted to build powerboats instead. As such, he stayed ahead of the decline and sold the Railton company to Hudson cars of Detroit. 

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Hudson had some big ideas, and it had the size and clout to make Railton its exciting, and profitable UK arm. However, when the war broke out in 1939, that put paid to that. Production stopped until after the war. A few cars were built from pre-war parts, and a new concept was built for 1949 London Motor Show, but with a project price of £5,000 (near enough £200,000 in today’s money), the reception was less than warm. 

But, you may be thinking, the car pictured here isn’t a 1930s classic. That’s because in 1989 the Railton name was revived and two new cars were built, namely the F28 Fairmile and the F29 Claremont – both were based on the Jaguar XJS, but featured aluminium bodywork styled by William Towns. 

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“I am a great fan of the iconic British car designer William Towns”, said Studio434® owner, Rodger Dudding,”and when I saw that the Railton Claremont was available at auction, I had to add it to our collection. It will now sit alongside our other William Towns’ designed cars including the Aston Martin Lagonda “Wedge” models, together with the unusual Hustler and Hunter vehicles”.

Studio434® now has over 460 cars and motorcycles representing models from the early 1900’s to the present day. Many of the cars are used in films and tv series including Mr Selfridge, Peaky Blinders and The Crown, most recently some of Rodger’s cars were used in the Elton John biopic Rocketman. And Car & Classic has been invited down to see the collection, so expect a full feature soon!

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