Was the Leyland Eight the first 'supercar'?

I think if that happened, there would be lots of doors kicked in. So should there be here.

The origins of the word ‘supercar’

Researching the origin of the word ‘supercar’ (or ‘super-car’) for my column of 30 August, I found that it got its first outing in Autocar in an advert in 1915 and in an article (about aero-engined specials) in 1921.

My reading was, however, limited to our digital archive (subscriptions sold here, would make a great present, etc).

In Man of Speed, the biography of engineer Reid Railton by estimable historian and author Karl Ludvigsen, he mentions that the term also appeared in a 1921 issue of The Motor, a weekly magazine much later incorporated into Autocar.

There it referenced, rather than a general idea, a specific machine. ‘First Descriptions of the Performance of a British Super-car in which Originality and Unconventionality are Prominently Characterised’, ran the headline on the Leyland Eight, designed by Railton and his gaffer, Leyland chief engineer JP Parry-Thomas.

Parry-Thomas, a setter of many speed records, would later race a special-bodied version of the car, dubbed the Leyland-Thomas, at Brooklands, lapping the circuit at 129.73mph.

It’s often unclear which car is the first of any genre, and Ludvigsen is inclined to discount the word when used by manufacturers in adverts, although as it not long after entered general vernacular, I’m more relaxed about that.

The Eight wasn’t the first car of its type, but if one is looking for the first specific model that was independently referred to as a supercar and certainly thought of as one, it could be that.

Are car parking providers easing up?

Twice this year I’ve appealed against private car park penalty notices and succeeded (kudos to NCP for its one, which I didn’t think it was obligated to).

Meanwhile, at short notice, I’ve just delayed a Europcar hire car’s return by a good few hours and been told there’s no extra fee.

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