Posts Tagged ‘Napier-Lion Golden Arrow’

(Malindine)

Kaye Don’s Sunbeam ‘Silver Bullet’ in the UK on 8 January 1934…

Photographer ‘Malindine’ took this wonderful shot after an unsuccessful Land Speed Record attempt at Daytona Beach- ‘despite its streamlined shape and powerful engine, the car only managed a disappointing 190 mph’ the Daily Herald caption records.

The record Don sought to break was that of Malcolm Campbell who set a mark of 272.46 mph in Campbell-Railton Bluebird- 36.7 litres of Rolls Royce supercharged aero V12 provided the power.

One of the things which always intrigues me is the juxtaposition of racing cars- in this case a LSR car, with the more mundane road transport of the day and amongst normal citizenry street scenes rather than at a race track.

How ‘other worldly’ the Silver Bullet must have seemed to the good folks of whatever town or village in which the photo was taken- does anybody happen to know the locale?

Kaye Don aboard the completed car at Sunbeam prior to its trip to Daytona (unattributed)

 

Silver Bullet in build- two compact 50 degree V12’s clear as is the centrifugal supercharger housing (unattributed)

Don’s steed was the final attempt on the LSR by Sunbeam- key team members were Louis Coatalen, Designer, Mr Kay, Draftsman and Hugh Rose the Production Manager created a car which was powered by two specially built 24 litre 50 degree V12 supercharged engines- these featured light alloy construction, roller bearing cranks, DOHC and four valves per cylinder using an oversquare layout, the motors developed a total of about 4000 horsepower ‘but delivering 920 bhp to the road wheels’.

The gearbox used three speeds, the power was delivered to a semi-elliptic sprung rear axle by splayed drive-shafts. Four wheel Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes were fitted- the machine, its body tested in the Vickers wind-tunnel, was 31 ft long and weighed 6 tons 14 cwt.

Only two engines were built, the car was beset by problems at Daytona, the fundamental issue amongst hundreds was a design one- ‘the very long induction pipes that fed the engines from the rear mounted supercharger were heating up the mixture before reaching the inlet valves, the resultant back-firing damaged the supercharger casing. This was a virtually incurable defect’ wrote Sunbeam historian Anthony S Heal.

After eighteen unsuccessful runs and much work on the car at Daytona the attempt was abandoned- the car arrived back in the UK on 28 April. Checkout Heal’s fascinating detailed account of the car here;

https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/april-1976/46/inside-story-sunbeam-silver-bullet

Sunbeam went into receivership in 1935, so the opening photograph is not too long before that- I wonder what the public occasion was for the shot?

The equally frigid looking April 1929 photo below is of ‘Major Henry Segrave’s ‘Golden Arrow’ being taken through the streets to Selfridges department store, London on returning from Daytona, after breaking the World Land Speed Record’ on 11 March at 231.362 mph.

(Fox Photos)

The Irving-Napier Special (the cars designer was former Sunbeam Engineer Capt JS Irving) ‘Golden Arrow’ was aero-engined, a Napier-Lion supercharged W12 of 23.9 litres provided the thrust- circa 925 bhp, the car weighed 3.5 tonnes.

120,000 spectators watched Segrave, who did only one practice run, before setting the new benchmark by 23.894 mph over that of Ray Keech in ‘White Triplex’.

Segrave returned to the UK and was knighted for his many motor racing, land and water speed achievements whilst Golden Arrow is preserved in the National Motor Museum with ‘only 18.74 miles on the clock’!

(unattributed)

Credits…

Malindine/Daily Herald, Fox Photos, Tom Pennington, Getty Images, Anthony S Heal article in the April 1976 issue of Motorsport magazine

Tailpiece: Red Bull F1 Rally-Car…

(Tom Pennington)

With the advent of the commercialisation of motor racing came the need for mass media coverage of ones sponsorship dollar, a big promotional splash became an imperative of the flotilla of ad and marketing men.

The contrived justaposition by the Red Bull publicity machine of ride ’em cowboy and the Red Bull RB Renault on a Johnson City cattle-ranch outside Austin, Texas in August 2011 was fun and visually potent if totally naff.

More photos here; https://primotipo.com/2015/12/08/ride-em-cowboy/

Finito…