Tag Archives: Bluebird

Four Independently Sprung Tons – Bluebird Proteus CN7

Between 1955 and 1964 Donald Campbell, son of Sir Malcom, set 6 World Water Speed records in the remarkable jet powered hyroplane Bluebird K7.

Equally remarkably during much of this time Donald was also raising the funds for todays featured Bluebird-Proteus CN7 for an attack on the 394 mph land speed record which had been set by John Cobb driving the Railton Mobil Special in September 1947.

After Donald had set a new water speed record of 202 mph with his K7 hydroplane he asked it’s designers Lew and Ken Norris if they would like to design and build today’s featured record breaking car.

Bluebird-Proteus CN7, National Motor Museum, Beaulieu,

The Norris brothers set about devising possibly the worlds most sophisticated motor vehicle with a monocoque chassis housing a modified 4,450hp Bristol-Siddeley Proteus turbo prop motor that delivers power through two gearboxes to the front and rear axles which in turn drive the independently sprung 52 inch Dunlop wheels.

The Norris Brothers and many since anticipated that the Bluebird Proteus CN7 would be capable of 500 mph.

Despite the cars front wheels having only a 4 degree turning angle Donald Campbell gave the CN7 it’s first public outing at Goodwood in 1960 managing a couple of demonstration laps. With the engine running at idling speed it still managed to reach 100 mph on the straight.

Bluebird-Proteus CN7, National Motor Museum, Beaulieu,

Donald’s first attempts to break the World Land Speed record at Bonneville in 1960 ended with an accident in which he suffered a fractured lower skull and a broken ear drum.

While recuperating Donald learned to fly and rebuilt CN7 for a Land Speed Record Attempt in 1963.

Bluebird-Proteus CN7, National Motor Museum, Beaulieu,

Lake Eyre in Australia was chosen not only because more space was available by also because it had not rained there for 20 years… until Donald and CN7 turned up.

In 1964 Donald returned to Lake Eyre and without a properly dried out salt surface managed to raise the World Land Speed Record to a disappointing 403 mph, nearly 100 miles an hour short of his target.

On the 31st of December 1964 Donald became the first man to set World Speed Records on Land and Water in the same year when he set his final new record aboard K7 of 276 mph on Lake Dumbkeyung also in Australia.

Bluebird-Proteus CN7, National Motor Museum, Beaulieu,

The regulations for land speed records were relaxed to allow thrust powered vehicles without driven wheels shortly after Donald set his record in the four wheel drive CN7.

The Norris brothers were envisaging rocket propulsion for a new Bluebird Mach 1.1 vehicle when Donald was killed aboard K7 on Coniston Water in England while he was trying to raise the World Water Speed record on January 4th 1967.

Bluebird Proteus CN7 is seen in these photographs at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu where it is usually to be found when not out on loan.

Thanks for joining me on this “Four Independently Sprung Tons” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at another Triumph Rally car. Don’t forget to come back now !


Identificaion Variable – Nissan IDx Nismo

The Nissan IDx Freeflow and Nismo concept cars were first seen in 2013 hark back to the Datsun 510/Bluebird/1600 models built from 1968 to 1973.

Nissan IDx Nismo, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

The performance IDx NISMO variant seen here at Goodwood Festival of Speed is seen as a competitor to the similarly rear wheel drive Hyundai Genesis coupé, Scion FRS and Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 models.

Nissan IDx Nismo, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

If the IDx Nismo goes into production it is believed that it will be powered by a 200hp turbocharged motor, similar to that found in the Juke Nismo.

Nissan IDx Nismo, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

Unfortunately the bad boy side pipes will probably not make it into production.

Nissan IDx Nismo, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

So far only a Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT) has been seen in the two IDx concepts.

Nissan IDx Nismo, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

It is believed the IDx Nismo will have a top speed of 130mph and will reach 60mph from rest in 7 seconds.

Nissan IDx Nismo, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

No date has been given for the IDx to go into production, but it is believed that it may replace it could replace either the Quest, Xterra, Cube or Juke should any of these models be discontinued.

Thanks for joining me on the “Identity Variable” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for Maserati Monday. Don’t forget to come back now !


Campbell’s Supercharged Short Stroke – Bugatti Type 39A #4810

There are said to be more than one way to skin a cat and using this philosophy Ettoire Bugatti devised more than one way to build a motor to meet the 1.5 litre / 91.5 cui Voiturette regulations for Grand Prix cars in 1926.

Last week I looked at a Type 37A featuring a motor with a 4 cylinder motor while today’s featured type 39A has an 8 cylinder motor of similar swept volume which was achieved by using a short stroke crankshaft in a motor originally designed to be of 2 litre / 122 cui capacity.

Bugatti Type 39A, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

Today’s featured car chassis #4810 was built for British Speed King Malcolm Campbell, later Sir, of Bluebird fame who bought this car in 1926 to compete in the inaugural British Grand Prix run at Brooklands.

Campbell was worried the original alloy wheels would not be up to withstanding the pounding of the remorseless Brooklands, broken, concrete track and so had wire wheels fitted.

Bugatti Type 39A, Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

Driving #4810 solo Campbell came home second splitting two Delages, 10 mins behind the winners Robert Sénéchal and Louis Wagner.

Jules Goux driving a Type 39A won both the 1926 French Grand Prix and 1926 European Grand Prix run at San Sebastián in Spain while later in 1926 Louis Charavel driving a Type 39A became the first man since Jules Goux, driving a Ballot in 1921, to win the Italian Grand Prix in a non Italian car and clinch the 1926 World Manufacturers Championship for Bugatti.

In 1927 Malcolm Campbell won the Grand Prix de Boulogne driving #4810.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing these photographs of #4810 seen at Hillsborough Concours d’Elegance in 2011.

Thanks for joining me on this “Campbell’s Supercharged Short Stroke” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I shall be revisiting Oulton Park for the 2014 Gold Cup meeting. Don’t forget to come back now !


Automobilists Cave – National Motor Museum Beaulieu

Beaulieu Abbey was built on land bequeathed by King John to a group of Cistercian monks, more strict in their vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience than Benedict monks, in 1204. The newly self appointed defender of the faith and head of the Church of England, King Henry the VIII, dissolved the abbey and had it destroyed in the 1530’s and the Beaulieu estate passed into the hands of secularist Thomas Wriothesley in 1538 who converted the monastry Great Gatehouse into a dwelling now known as the Palace House. His ancestor the present Lord Montagu created a Motor Museum in 1956 as a tribute to his father the Motoring pioneer John, Second Baron Montagu of Beaulieu.

Ferrari F310, NMM Bealieu

The last, only, time I visited Beaulieu was on a rainy day in June 1974, I remember reading about Niki Lauda’s first victory driving a Ferrari 312 B3, at the Spanish Grand Prix, in Motor Sport Magazine in the back of the car on the way down. This time my trip was fueled by the Simply Italian parade featured on GALPOT yesterday and a need to replenish my stock of Ferrari images which are getting low. The only Ferrari in the National Motor Museum last Sunday was this replica 1996 F310, interestingly the nose is of the earlier type than the replica F310 that sits in the Haynes International Museum. This low nose replica matches the form of the nose that was fitted to Micheal Schumachers F310 when he won the 1996 Spanish Grand Prix, his first victory in a Ferrari.

Bugatti T15, NMM Bealieu

Seems like every time I leave the house on some motor related expedition I come back with far more questions than answers. This cool piece of brass work, I presume it’s brass, was attached to the side of a 1910 Bugatti T15. The top looks a tad sophisticated for this to be a simple motor oil or motor spirit receptacle, if you have any idea’s what it is please chime in below.

Bluebird Norris Proteus CN7, NMM Bealieu

My earliest flights of imagination into unadulterated raw speed were undoubtedly inspired by the exploits of Donald Campbell to reach 500 mph in the 4,450hp Bluebird Norris Proteus CN7 in the early 1960’s, being a terrible tease I’ll save the outcome of his attempt for a future blog.

Bloody Mary, NMM Bealieu

Thanks to GALPOT reader Tim Murray I have been enjoying a book called Special by John Bolster, John built ‘various devices’ himself including Bloody Mary seen here, a successful JAP powered ‘device’ built in the early 1930’s. I’ll save full details for another occasion save to say John was the only one who had the confidence in his own work and was brave enough to take this device to victory lane in sprint and hillclimb event’s !

Austin A40 Countryman, NMM Bealieu

Like all worthwhile publicly supported institutions the National Motor Museum consumes cash by the case load in order to keep it’s exhibits in good order, and runs a sponsorship scheme for individual vehicles,you can find out more about sponsoring a vehicle at the National Motor Museum on this link. I’d like to thank those who sponsored this 1966 Austin A40 Farina Countryman, known as Tubby, on behalf of Maurice Wycliff Timmins. One just like it called Daisy played a huge role in my own formative years.

AC Shelby Cobra, NMM Bealieu

It was sad to learn of the passing of Carroll Shelby last week, among his many achievements was the bringing together of a little AC roadster and a huge 7 litre / 427 Ford V8 which became known as the AC Shelby Cobra. Today original versions of these much copied vehicles can fetch over a US$ 1,000,000. The restored 1965 vehicle seen here was fitted with the cheaper 7.01 litre 428 cui Ford V8 was once the property of part time circuit and drag racer John Woolfe who had two such cars, the left hand drive above also seen in this link and a right hand drive registered GTM777F which can be seen about to get whipped by a much smaller engined dragster “Hustler” driven by ‘Tex’ Blake in the photo linked here. Any one interested in learning about the UK drag scene will find this link to the John Woolfe Racing site quite fascinating.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, NMM Bealieu

In one of my more romantic moments I once proposed to some one after seeing the most fantasmagorical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on television, we are no longer together but we remain friends. This is one of several film stars at Beaulieu I’ll be covering some of them in more detail next Sunday. Apparently the “GEN 11” registration is now to be found on a 2011 Honda Jazz.

Mini Convertible, NMM Bealieu

I’m not a big time gambler but I am now the proud owner of a raffle ticket to win this Mini Convertible, I also hold tickets to win a Morgan, and Triumph SE one day my number is bound to come up 🙂

Citroën 2CV6 Special, NMM Bealieu

I’ll end today’s over view of the National Motor Museum with this Citroën 2CV6 Speciale, I have probably had more fun and adventures in this type of vehicle than any other. This 1986 2CV6 Speciale, just 24 miles on the clock, is barely out of it’s wrapping with delivery stickers and protective wax still on the windows, was put straight into storage after it was purchased.

The Second Baron of Beaulieu John Montagu in 1906 predicted ‘Europe in a few years time will become for the motorist one vast Holiday area’. How right he was and how lucky we automobilists are that his son Edward The 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu founded the National Motor Museum, a fascinating part of that tapestry.

Thanks for joining me on this ‘Automobilists Cave edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”. I hope you will join me tomorrow when I’ll be featuring a vintage MG. Don’t forget to come back now !

PS Many thanks to Allan Lupton at The Nostalgia Forum for informing me the receptacle I asked about above is a Rushmore acetylene generator for the acetylene lamps that proved more reliable than electric lamps of the period.


Last of the line – ERA R14B

English Racing Automobiles was founded by driver Raymond Mays, designer Peter Berthon and financier Humphrey Cook in 1933 to manufacture racing cars capable of upholding British prestige in Continental European races.

Without the financial or engineering resources made available to Mercedes Benz and Auto Union in top flight Grand Prix races, ERA focused their efforts one step down, in the GP2 or Indy Lights of its day known as voiturette racing for vehicles with supercharged motors from 1.1 litres / 67 cui to 2 litres / 122 cui.

The ERA engines came in three sizes and were based on a 6 cylinder Riley production block with a stronger crankshaft and entirely new aluminium cylinder head.

Chassis design was by Reid Railton and the body work was by George and Jack Cray to a design by a Mr Piercy who like Railton had been responsible for the design of Malcom Campbells land speed record breaking vehicle ‘Bluebird‘.

ERA R14B seen here is the 14th and final original ‘sit up and beg’ originally a pale blue vehicle built in 1938 with a 1.5 litre /91 cui Zoller supercharged engine for Johnnie Wakefield who won the 200 mile race at Brooklands and finished third in the 1938 Bern GP.

Bob Gerard acquired the car after WW2 and scored third and second place finishes at the British Grand Prix of 1948 and 1949, he continued to race the car successfully until 1956.

Current owner Donald Day purchased ERA R14B in 1958 and has raced it with a 2 litre / 122 cui motor in place of it’s original 1.5 litre 91 cui unit. In 1990 14B appeared for the first time in British Racing Green.

This same vehicle was driven to victory in the pre 1959 Historic Grand Prix at Monaco by Julian Bronson in 2002.

All photo’s bar the penultimate one from the September VSCC meet at Loton Park, the penultimate one was taken at the August VSCC meet at Prescott.

Thanks to David Hodgkinson for back ground information on ERA 14B.

Hope you have enjoyed todays British Racing Green edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’, and will join me tomorrow for a look at a high flying special. Don’t forget to come back now !