John Parry-Thomas

John Parry-Thomas

Welsh engineer and racing driver
Date of Birth: 06.04.1884
Country: Great Britain

  1. Biography of John Parry-Thomas
  2. Introduction
  3. Early Life and Education
  4. Early Career
  5. Racing Career and Speed Records
  6. Record Attempts and Tragic Death

Biography of John Parry-Thomas


John Parry-Thomas was a Welsh engineer and racing driver who became known for his speed records. However, his pursuit of these records ultimately led to his tragic death. This biography will explore the life and achievements of John Parry-Thomas.

John Parry-Thomas

Early Life and Education

John Parry-Thomas was born in Wrexham, Wales. When he was five years old, his family moved to Oswestry. He completed his education at a school in Oswestry and then went on to study at a college in London, where he obtained a degree in engineering.

Early Career

After graduating, Parry-Thomas joined Leyland Motors, a company specializing in the production of various types of vehicles. In his spare time, he devoted himself to inventing and even obtained a series of patents. Following the First World War, Parry-Thomas and his assistant Reid Railton began developing the Leyland Eight, an elite car model designed to rival Rolls-Royce. Parry-Thomas personally tested this car, which eventually led him to leave Leyland Motors and become an independent racing driver-engineer. He co-founded the company Thomas Inventions Development Co. with New Zealand engineer Major Ken Thomson.

Racing Career and Speed Records

Parry-Thomas achieved remarkable success in his chosen field. His cars won 38 races and set a series of records in just five seasons. However, by 1925, he realized that his business would not achieve true commercial success unless he competed in prestigious races. Unable to afford a popular model like the Napier Lion used by other record-breakers, Parry-Thomas decided to focus on setting a new speed record for land transportation. He purchased the "Higham Special" car and began modifying it, spending a considerable amount of time creating an aerodynamic body. He also equipped the car with a new 27-liter "Liberty V-12" engine, using materials readily available to him.

Record Attempts and Tragic Death

In 1925, Parry-Thomas made his first attempt to break the record but fell short of the planned speed. He then developed a new body, which was completed in April 1926. On April 27, 1926, Parry-Thomas set a speed record on this car, only to break it the following day. His second record, achieving a speed of over 270 km/h, stood for nearly a year. In the winter of 1926-1927, Parry-Thomas fitted his car with a new body after Malcolm Campbell surpassed his record. Tragically, on March 3, 1927, during a subsequent run, Parry-Thomas lost his life. Initially, it was believed that he died from being struck by a broken chain, but it was later determined that the crash itself caused fatal injuries. His funeral took place in Byfleet, Surrey, close to the racing tracks he was familiar with. His car was buried in the Pendine Sands dunes but was later unearthed and restored. Today, Parry-Thomas' car is displayed at the Pendine Museum.