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THE LAND SPEED RECORD – BEYOND 300 MPH

We’ve seen in the last article that the 200 mph (320 km/h) land speed record was set by Segrave’s Sunbeam 1000 HP Mystery nicknamed The Slug.

Between 1924 and 1935, Sir Malcolm Campbell set no less than 9 (nine) land speed records and 4 (four) water speed records. He was one of the few record holders to die of natural causes rather than in an accident, in 1948. He reached 206.956 mph (333.064 km/h) driving the Napier Campbell Blue Bird. (source)

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The Napier Campbell Blue Bird was powered by a 22.3 liter W12 Napier Lion engine that produced 500 bhp. Shortly after, Ray Keech broke Sir Campbell’s record in the White Triplex which we showed you in the previous article.

In September 1935 he reached the 300 mph (480 km/h) milestone at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah driving the Campbell-Railton Blue Bird. (source)

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The Campbell-Railton Blue Bird was powered by a supercharched Rolls Royce R 36.7 liter V12 that produced a mind blowing 2300 bhp. This was the last record set by Sir Campbell. What a way to end your dare-devil career !

Between 1937 and 1939, two englishmen battled for supremacy. Captain George Edward Thomas Eyston was the first to brake the ice and to set a new record. In his Thunderbolt, he reached 312 mph (502 km/h) in November 1937 and 345.5 mph (556.03 km/h) in August 1938. You can see the Thunderbolt in the picture below. (source)

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The car was powered by a pair of Rolls Royce R-type V12 engines similar to Sir Campbell Malcolm’s Blue Bird. Each of the 36.4 liter engines had a power of 2350 bhp, so together they provided 4700 bhp. Between the two records, Eyston improved the aerodynamics of the Thunderbolt.

Eyston’r rival, John Cobb took the record to 353 mph (568.58 km/h) a month after Eyston’s last record. John Cobb’s car was named the Reid Railton, after the engineer that designed it. (source)

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The car was equipped with two supercharged Napier Lion VIID W12 aircraft engines producing around 2600 bhp. The main advantage of the Reid Railton was its aerodynamics and stability.

After this record, Eyston took the Thunderbolt for a spin again, setting a new record of 357.50 mph (575.34 km/h). After that, in August 1939 at the Bonneville Salt Flats, Cobb reached 369.7 mph (594.97 km/h) putting an end to the fight with Eyston. In 1947, Cobb broke his own record, reaching 394.19 mph (634.39 km/h) only to die in 1952 when trying to break the water speed record.

We’ll continue in the next article to take a look at the jet and rocket powered cars that have set land speed records over the time. See you !

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