Saturday, 18 April 2015

Bluebird-Proteus CN7 Record Car

The Campbell family legacy of breaking land speed records goes back to Sir Malcolm Campbell born in the county of Kent, England in 1885.

He was a racing driver and journalist who took on the challenge, between 1924 and 1935, of setting numerous land speed records in various cars that he choose to christen “Bluebird”.

Sir Malcolm passed away in 1948, and his son Donald, born in 1921, decided to take on the challenge of speed.

He started on water with his father’s old record boat Bluebird K4. With modifications, the boat showed great promise, but he did not manage to set any new records with it.

Donald commissioned a new boat the Bluebird K7 of extremely advanced design, and through the 1950’s, set many new water speed records.

At the end of the 1950’s, he commissioned a land speed record car, which he christened Bluebird-Proteus CN7. It was a stunningly beautiful car, powered by a modified Bristol-Siddeley Proteus turbine engine driving all 4 wheels.

Corgi #153 Proteus Campbell Bluebird (1960-1965)

In 1960, he brought Bluebird to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA for testing. After various trial runs, making adjustments all along, Campbell crashed CN7, damaging it extensively and putting himself in hospital.

It was rebuilt through 1962 with a tail fin to add stability and was tested in 1963 on Eyre Lake, a normally dry lakebed in Australia.

After many months of bad conditions for a land speed run, there was a break in the weather and on July 17, 1964, Campbell decided to go for it.

Bluebird-Proteus CN7 on it's record run
Acrylic, pen&ink and colour pencils on 24"x 10.5" (60.9cm x 25.4cm) watercolour paper
© Paul Chenard  - Original art available -

On his two courageous runs, he brought Bluebird to an average speed of 403.10 mph (648.73 km/h), a new world land speed record for a wheel-driven car. Victory was his!!!

Sadly, Donald Malcolm Campbell CBE was killed while attempting a new world water speed record in the modified Bluebird K7 on Coniston Water, Lancashire, UK on the 4th of January 1967.

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