Railton F29 Claremont

Car of the Day #60: 1992 Railton F29 Claremont

Railton F29 Claremont
1989 Railton F29 Claremont • via Iconic Auctioneers

It’s difficult to revive a carmaker.

I was thinking last night about the cars used to revive various automakers, because they’re often wide of the mark, and they often fail. Is it such a bad thing, though? Did we really need, say, certain British cars to live on a few decades past their prime, into the late ’90s or early 2000s? Or, recently, Borgward?

The market said no, which is why I’m now writing about the Railton F29 Claremont—which I’ll refer to as the F29 from now on.

Railton was a marque that borrowed its name from Reid Railton, a designer of world speed record cars. After helping Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird cars achieve records pre-Second World War, he designed the Railton Mobil Special in 1947, netting him the land speed record at 635 km/h (394.7 mph).

Pre-War, however, serial entrepreneur Noel Macklin was looking to start another carmaker after selling Invicta in 1933. He settled on Railton, with royalties for the name netting Reid Railton some money on each car sold. They were designed to be grand touring cars with high performance; a Hudson Eight engine and chassis and sporting body earned them a stunning zero-to-100 km/h (zero-to-62 mph) time of 8.8 seconds…in 1935.

It is that car, the Railton 8, that Sir William Towns had in mind when shaking off his angular era and designing two of his last vehicles, the more sedate F29 and the performance-oriented F28 Fairmile. First shown at Motorfair in 1989, the reborn Railton was updated and officially launched in 1991. When trying to figure out which is which, note that the F29 is blue with rear wheel spats and the F28 is red with no spats. As for mechanical differences…there were few of note.

Underneath, both cars were based on the Jaguar XJ-S, with a 5.3-litre V12 engine and 280 horsepower. Jaguar’s standard luxury equipment was included.

• via Jaguar World

Most interestingly, the Railtons had all-aluminum bodies that allowed Towns to put away his rulers and design something more rounded; I think he wanted to make the cars look like streamlined record-setting cars from the 1930s, but few had (or seem to have) much love for the look.

If you’ve been adding all of this up in your head, you see the problem: these rebodied (by hand!) Railtons were going to be expensive, and they were—more than £100,000 each in period.

1989 Railton F29 Claremont • via Car And Classic, Studio 434 Collection

With only two built, Towns retained the F29 until his death, and after being sold at auction in 2002 it’s now in the highly-regarded Studio 434 Collection.

Sadly, the Railton was one of Towns’ last projects. Park Street Metal, the company who built the bodies for the Railton project, went on to build the Jaguar XJ220.

If you want to know more about its current whereabouts, check out the Studio 434 Collection; head to Below The Radar and AROnline for longer write-ups. ✌️


Thank you to my supporting members: Ben B., Brad B., Chris G., Daniel G., Damian S., Daniel P., Ingrid P., Karl D., Luis O., Michael J., Michael L., Michelle S., Mike B., Mike L., Mike M., Richard W., Sam L., Wiley H.