Malcolm Campbell's Blue Bird heard in public after 50 years
You may remember back in October of 2012 I wrote rather an essay-length blog post about the various Land Speed Record cars and their drivers who dominated the record-breaking scene in the 1920s and '30s. Sir Malcolm Campbell, one of my personal heroes, featured prominently along with his series of Blue Bird speed cars.
I only briefly mentioned Campbell's first Blue Bird in that post, but now I am delighted to see that it has had its engine run up for the first time in 50 years during an event at its Beaulieu home. Prior to this Blue Bird I had not run since July 1962 when it was driven by the then Lord Montagu at a Brooklands racing festival. A disaster during an engine test in the early 1990s nearly put paid to it ever being a moving display again but thanks to the many years' hard work by engineers and enthusiasts at the National Motor Museum the roar of the 350hp Sunbeam Manitou-Arab aero-engine was heard again yesterday.
The history of the car up until this point is well-covered in the accompanying articles so I won't bore you by repeating the details here. Suffice to say it is splendid, as always, to see an important part of British motoring history - from one of my favourite periods - given a new lease of life after sitting dormant for so long. Blue Bird's story is a thrilling one and I hope this latest news means we will get to see it more often and moving under its own power at events up and down the country. I note that it is already scheduled to appear at a fascinating-sounding exhibit due to open at Beaulieu on the 20th March, with further work on the gearbox and other ancillaries also planned for this year to bring it back to 1924 record-breaking specification (remarkable when you consider that the original plans were lost during the Second World War). All of which this wonderful machine fully deserves.
As this particular Blue Bird was also later driven by dance band leader, motor enthusiast and sometime racing driver Billy Cotton that's all the excuse I need to end this post with a song by that same man. Toodle-pip for now!