We continue the land speed record series with the beginning of the thermal engine supremacy. The electric or steam powered cars were blown away by the internal combustion engine and the rocket engines.
After the Stanley Steamer, the land speed record was set by Ernest Arthur Douglas Eldridge in a Fiat Mefistofele. He reached 243.97km/h and it was the last land speed record set on open road. You can see the Mefistofele in the picture below (source)
The Mefistofele had straight six cylinder 21.7 liters engine that produced 320 bhp. Talking about an economical engine…
In 1926, Sir Henry O’Neil de Hane Segrave reached 245.149 km/h in a Sunbeam Tiger. Segrave was the first one to hold the land speed record and the water speed record at the same time. You can see the Sunbeam Tiger in the picture below. (source)
The Sunbeam Tiger looked like the Mefistofele but it had a smaller more punchy engine. The Sunbeam had a 4 liter V12 supercharged engine producing 306 bhp. It was a little bit less than the Mefistofele but the car was a little bit lighter and the land speed record isn’t very far from the Italian car either.
The next month, Sir Henry’s record was beaten by J.G. Parry-Thomas, who reached 273.6 km/h in the car named Babs.(source)
The Babs was powered by a single 27 liters V12 Liberty Aero engine that produced 450 bhp. The car featured a sleek body with an aero-shaped tail for stability. In a later attempt of reaching a new record, J.G. Parry-Thomas died in 1927, sadly becoming the first driver to die trying to set a new land speed record.
In 1927, Segrave set yet another record, driving a Sunbeam 1000 HP Mystery nicknamed The Slug. You can see The Slug in the photo below. (source)
It would appear that the record-setting car had an ironic name, because The Slug was powered by two Sunbeam Matabele 22.4 liter aircraft engines producing something about 900 bhp. It was the first car that reached the infamous 320 km/h or 200 mph milestone.
In 1928, Ray Keech set the land speed record of 334.019 km/h at Daytona Beach in something called White Triplex, which you can see below. (source)
The White Triplex was a huge thing, but then again, it needed to be. It was powered by three 27 liters Liberty Aero engines. In total, the engine had 36 cylinders, 81 liters and a claimed power of 1500 bhp. A year after setting the record in the White Triplex, Ray Keech died in a car accident. Talking about irony…
In 1929, Sir Segrave set hist last land speed record, again at Daytona Beach, reaching 372.46 km/h in the Golden Arrow. (source)
The Golden Arrow was powered by a 23.9 liters W12 Napier Lion aeroengine that produced 925 bhp. He topped Keech’s previous record by a whopping 40 km/h proving that size isn’t everything. We do agree that he proved size isn’t everything in a W12 24 liter 925 bhp powered car, but anyway…
That’s it for today, we’ll continue next week with more land speed record information !