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Homepage. This page: The globe-trotting exploits of a pioneer motorist in his Edwardian-era Napier.

Around The World in a Napier.

The History Press.

Andrew M. Jepson.
ISBN 978 0 7524 9773 0
Published 2013. (Paperback, 126 pages).
Review date October 2013.
Book cover

UK RRP 14.99.

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It's difficult to imagine how tricky things were for the early motorist. The supply of motor spirit, or petrol, during one's journey would require a certain amount of planning, as would the choice of attire to ward off the worst that the elements might throw at one. Eccentric starting rituals, minimal lighting, questionable ride comfort and dusty un-made roads were all in a day's work for the adventuresome automobilist. Roadside punctures were commonplace, as was animosity from many other users of the road, most notably horse-drawn carriage drivers, cyclists, and day-dreaming pedestrians who often viewed these smokey, noisy, mechanical contraptions with great disdain. Others though were captivated by the opportunities for travel that motor-cars offered, at least to those wealthy enough to indulge in the pastime.
Published in 2013 by The History Press, the following book tells the story of one globe-trotting American and his faithful Napier-supplied riding mechanic, as they undertook a number of epic, cross-continental, journeys of discovery on board his dependable British automobile. The story has been pieced together by descendants of Charles Thomas, the mechanic, using contemporary reports and photographs, combined with recollections provided by the aforementioned gent during his later years.
All the photographs were taken by the voyagers during their trips to distant lands, and go some way to shed light on the conditions they had to deal with. Fording rivers on rickety rafts, improvising roadside repairs using the most basic of tools, and adapting the car to run on railway tracks across much of America, were just some of the challenges that the intrepid group faced and conquered.
Had this book been written while both gents were alive, then no doubt there'd be more of the nitty-gritty challenges that driving a car of this age threw up. However, given that this wasn't to be, being able to put this journal together at all is quite some feat. More information on the later life of the car used for most of the journeys would have been appreciated (assuming its later story is known), and perhaps modern-day driving impressions of a preserved car would have added a little more insight into what the pioneer motorists were up against, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed this glimpse into the trailblazing exploits of Mr Charles Glidden, accompanied by his long-suffering wife and his most able riding mechanic, Charles Thomas. "Boy's Own" stuff indeed.
RJ
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Also see: scanned and reproduced on this site, a superb catalogue from 1912 describing Napier's range of commercial vehicles.

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