Good news for auto aficionados in the UK: the Blue Bird V, the ultra-fast vehicle that propelled Sir Malcolm Campbell to over 300 MPH back in 1935, is now on display at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu.
For those not in-the-know, the Blue Bird V is one of the most powerful land vehicles ever built. Constructed in 1933 by Sir Malcolm and his design team, it weighs 10,000 pounds and stretches 27 feet long. Powered by a supercharged Rolls-Royce 2500 HP, 2,227 cubic inch V12 engine with dual overhead cam, it achieved an official speed of 272 MPH on February 22, 1933 at Daytona Beach. Observers later estimated that the vehicle could have easily exceeded 300 MPH, had it not been for the wheels refusing to stay on the ground during much of the run.
Campbell spent two years revamping the Blue Bird V, adding a tailfin and changing the number of rear wheels from two to four. Instead of a single powertrain mechanism, the updated version delivered drive separately to each side of the vehicle for better weight distribution. The body shape also became more rectangular and slightly lower to the ground.
After these changes, the Blue Bird V was returned to the US in 1935. In that year, on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, Sir Malcolm achieved an official speed of 301.129 MPH, topping off an already-impressive career. The vehicle that carried him to fame was later put on display at Daytona International Speedway, where it spends most of its time. It will be in Great Britain until sometime in November, when it will make the trans-Atlantic journey back to its permanent home in Florida. Also featured at the exhibit will be the Blue Bird CN7, which Campbell’s son Donald drove to a top speed of 403.1 MPH in 1964. Like father, like son, as they say.
- Sir Malcolm Campbell