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Pictures from the Heritage Archives

Part one Record breakers

The year is 1935 and the location, the Armstrong Siddeley factory at Parkside, Coventry. These pictures are of Malcolm Campbell's record breaking Railton Bluebird car. Sadly there is no indication of the month when these snaps, probably by an amateur photographer, were taken. This was Malcolm's final competition car which on the 3rd of September 1935 broke the elusive 300 miles per hour barrier on the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah by achieving 301.337mph. This remarkable feat crowned his record breaking career.

The power house in this car was a Rolls Royce Rv12 supercharged engine of some 36.7 litres The 2,300 HP which it provided was delivered to the wheels through a Wilson epicyclic gear box. John Siddeley and Walter Wilson, the pioneer of the preselective gear box, had formed a company - Self Changing Gears - which was part of the Armstrong Siddeley group of companies and manufactured the preselective gear box fitted to their cars through the 1930s and was an option till 1958.

Graham Wilson the son of Walter recalls that Campbell's earlier Sunbeam record car was fitted with a Wilson box and that the Railton Bluebird car was also so equipped.

In this second picture the photographer has managed to capture the full 27 feet length of the car. The elegant wind cheating body was constructed by the coach builder J.Gurney Nutting and Co. Note the air brakes are in the operational position. Despite its large size the vehicle has a lithe appearance defying the overall weight of four and three quarter tons.


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