British drivers, engineers, mechanics and cars have broken the World Land Speed Record more times than any other nationality. Their story is brought to life in a moving audio-visual presentation, accompanied by items from the museum’s Collections, on public display for the first time. Exhibits include contemporary souvenirs and memorabilia, trophies and personal items belonging to the drivers. The display transports you back to a time of invention, courage and patriotism and also introduces you to those who are keeping Britain’s record breaking dream alive today.
In the 1920s, the 350hp Sunbeam – a new kind of car for a new era – was the first powered by an aero engine. Its drivers too, were men of the age – Kenelm Lee Guinness, who took the record in 1922, and Capt. Malcolm Campbell who, having remodelled the car several times, flew through the record twice, breaking the 150mph barrier in 1925 at Pendine Sands, Wales. In the dawn of a golden age of speed, the Brits had truly arrived.
|Don Wales with 350hp Sunbeam|
In 1929 the iconic blend of style and engineering in the Irving Napier Special, Golden Arrow, with its distinctive engine shape, paved the way for two decades of unbroken British success. At 231.446mph, with Segrave again in the driving seat, this arrow shattered its target.
In 1964, a new Campbell – Donald – son of Malcolm, set the record in Bluebird CN7. A first record attempt at Bonneville in 1960 met with disaster when Bluebird, caught by a gust of wind, veered off course and somersaulted. With Bluebird re-built and a tailfin added for stability, his last attempt on the record, at Lake Eyre, Australia, propelled a triumphant Campbell through the elusive 400 to claim the official wheel-driven record for Britain at 403.10mph.
An unofficial record of 407mph set by Craig Breedlove in a jet powered car the previous year was against International rules. However, Breedlove’s faster jet-car run had proved that the old rules would have to be rewritten. It was the end of a glorious era for the Campbells, Bluebird cars and for Britain.
|1,000hp Sunbeam, Golden Arrow, 350hp Sunbeam|
Speaking on behalf of his father, Lord Montagu, the Hon Ralph Montagu said: “It is very fitting that we are opening the display this year as 2014 celebrates the 85th anniversary of Henry Segrave setting a new world Land Speed Record in Golden Arrow in 1929. And fifty years ago, in 1964, Donald Campbell achieved over 400mph in Bluebird CN7 at Lake Eyre.”
The Land Speed Record display and exhibition is now open and can be seen as part of a visit to the whole Beaulieu attraction, which includes the National Motor Museum, World of Top Gear, Beaulieu Abbey, Palace House and gardens.
Visit www.beaulieu.co.uk/attractions/landspeed-story for more information or join the conversation with @Beaulieu_Hants on Twitter using #landspeed.