Tag Archives: Norris

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 !


The Steady Swiss – Sauber Ferrari C32

With nothing much but a top end niche motor industry as exemplified by the likes of the enigmatic Monteverdi, and no circuit motor racing since the fatal accident at Le Mans since 1955 Peter Sauber would have been hard pressed to find a less conducive environment in which to found a motor racing team that would build a succession of sportscars that competed first in the Swiss Hill Climb Championships and later with the backing of Mercedes win at Le Mans in 1989 and then the World Sports Car Championship in 1990 beating works teams from Jaguar, Nissan and Toyota.

Gutiérrez, Sauber Ferrari C32, Young Driver Test, Silverstone

In 1993, with a little back door funding from Mercedes Benz, Sauber entered Formula One with a V10 Ilmor motor branded as a Mercedes Benz. This arrangement lasted for two years until Mercedes Benz decided to increase their involvement with McLaren as their partner. Sauber continued with Ford Motors in 1995 and 1996 and after four years has a reputation for being regular points finishers.

Gutiérrez, Sauber Ferrari C32, Young Driver Test, Silverstone

Form 1997 to 2005 a Sauber subsidiary built Ferrari motors and gearboxes under licence for his Formula one team, under this arrangement the team finished a best 4th in the championship with Nick Heidfeld and rookie Kimi Räikkönen sharing the driving duties.

Hülkenberg, Sauber Ferrari C32, British Grand Prix P1, Silverstone

In 2006 BMW bought the Sauber team and called the shots until they sold it back to Peter Sauber in 2009 when the economic crisis precipitated by the credit crunch hit Formula One. Under BMW’s stewardship Sauber finished 2nd in the constructors championship in 2007 following McLarens exclusion. The following year they finished 3rd and Robert Kubica scored the team’s only win in Canada, ahead of team mate Nick Heidfeld.

Hülkenberg, Sauber Ferrari C32, British Grand Prix P2, Silverstone

Since 2010 Sauber has returned to running with Ferrari motors, now built in Maranello. Last year Nico Hülkenberg, red helmet, joined the team from Force India and was joined by Mexican rookie Esteban Gutiérrez, yellow helmet, who had been the teams driver since 2011, to drive the Sauber C 32 designed under the direction of Matt Norris.

Hülkenberg, Sauber Ferrari C32, British Grand Prix P2, Silverstone

The highly rated Nico recorded ten points scoring finishes from 18 starts including the teams season high 4th place finish at the Korean Grand Prix. At the following Japanese Grand Prix Esteban came home 7th behind team mate Nico to record his only points finish. Sauber finished the year 7th in the championship.

Gutiérrez, Sauber Ferrari C32, Young Driver Test, Silverstone

For much of 2013 Nico was touted as a possible replacement for Felipe Massa at Ferrari, however as things began to unravel for Kimi Räikkönen at Lotus and Fernando Alonso committed the ultimate crime for any Ferrari driver, to suggest he wanted “another car”, i.e. built by another manufacturer, for his birthday, Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo took exception to the comments and took the opportunity to wake Alonso up by signing up the man whom Alonso had replaced at Ferrari !

A disgruntled Hülkenberg took the only route available to him offering any hope of career advancement and rejoined the Mercedes Benz powered Force India Team. Esteban will be joined in 2014 by Force India refugee Adrian Sutil with a well financed young Russian prodigy Sergey Sirotkin doing the testing duties. The Ferrari powered C33 was launched a couple of days ago on the Sauber teams website and it’s progress can be followed on the team’s Facebook page.

Thanks for joining me on this “Steady Swiss” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a US built Edwardian vehicle. 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.


A day at Thompson CT – Austin Healey 100-Six

On the 20th of July 1958 Norris Crosby Chief Engineer at Orangeburg Plastics loaded up the trunk of his Austin Healey 100-Six and headed for the ‘Old’ Thompson Raceway in the North East corner of Connecticut, on the way he picked up Ed Arnaudin who took these wonderful photographs kindly provided by his son Steve for us to enjoy.

The Austin Healey 100 was designed as a private enterprise by Donald Healey to run on the historically disastrous Austin A90 Atlantic running gear including a 2660 cc /162 cui motor with a three speed gearbox fitted with overdrive on 2nd and 3rd gear the 100 name was chosen because the vehicle was capable of over 100 mph.

When Austin MD Leonard Lord saw the Healey Hundred prototype a deal was struck for the bodywork to be manufactured by Jenson and then shipped to Longbridge where assembly was completed alongside the Austin A90 Atlantic.

The #65 seen here is listed twice as being the 4 cylinder ‘100’ model however the horizontal crinkled grill bars and air scoop tell us that this vehicle is actually a BN6 ‘100 – Six’ manufactured between 1956 and 1959, fitted with a 117 hp 2639 cc / 161 cui in line 6 cylinder BMC C Series motor from the Austin Westminster and a four speed gearbox, overdrive if fitted was optional.

The car on the outside row of the grid from the #65 and the #114 are both earlier 4 cylinder ‘100’ models with distinctive vertical radiator grill bars and no air scoops .

Norris blew his exhaust muffler during the race and came in 5th overall 3rd in Class D in Race 5 behind the race winning smaller Class E AC Bristol of E Hamburger.

(Note results corrected 03/04/11)

In this shot Norris leads F Twaits in his rare Fraser Nash 100/163 down the yet to be finished Thompson CT pit road.

Ed Arnaudin describes riding in the car with Norris on the way home on a dark, cold evening as being “loud as hell” thanks to the muffler blown during the race.

A lovely fuss free way to go racing no trailers just get in your race car pick up your buddy on the way, race and go home.

With thanks to Ed and Steve Arnaudin for taking and providing these photographs, additional material from Northeast American Sports Car Races 1950-1959 * by Terry O’Neil.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s edition from the race in 1958, looking forward what tomorrow brings, don’t forget to come back now !

* Please note :- I do not in anyway endorse, or have any commercial interest in the products or distributors highlighted in today’s feature, I am merely passing information on as an enthusiast of all things motoring, I have no experience of handling these products nor have I used these vendors. I recommend anyone interested in these items or distributors do their own thorough investigation into suitability, reliability and particularly prices of both products and vendors before making any purchasing decisions.