Classic Car Catalogue

World Speed Record

Malcolm Campbell
438,12 km/h (272.108 m.p.h.)
Daytona Beach
22 February 1933

Great Britain

Motor SportJanuary 1933

ONCE more Sir Malcolm Campbell is setting out to do battle with the World's Land Speed Record, and with the additional power provided by the new Rolls-Royce engine, which is of the same type as was fitted to the Supermarine seaplanes which won the 1931 Schneider Trophy, he should be able to make a substantial improvement on his present record of 253.9 m.p.h.
Power! The "R" type Rolls-Royce aero engine which has been installed in Sir Malcolm Campbell's " Bluebird."
The "R" type Rolls-Royce engine, which was developed from the normal H or Buzzard series, is a twelve-cylinder V engine with bore and stroke of 6 and 6.6. inches (152 mm. and 168 mm.) with a total capacity of 36,582 c.c. The blocks are aluminium castings set at 60°, and have integral heads with aluminium bronze valve seats. High carbon-steel liners are used for the bores, and water leakage is prevented at the points where the liners bear on the blocks by an aluminium ring at the top end and a rubber ring at the bottom end. Hiduminium, a light and strong alloy developed by Messrs. Rolls Royce, was used in the racing engines in place of aluminium.
Each cylinder has two inlet and two exhaust valves and each cylinder block has a single overhead camshaft driven from the supercharger end of the engine by shaft and bevel gears. The valve rockers are pivoted at their outer ends and their inner ends bear on the valve stems. They pass under the camshafts, and have "humps" near their inner ends on which the cams operate. This form of construction is used in order to reduce the overall height and so the frontal area of the engine. The camshaft drive is taken from a shaft mounted in line with the crankshaft and flexibly driven from it.
Two plugs per cylinder are used, and the two twelve-terminal magnetos are driven by a cross shaft at the supercharger end of the engine.
The aluminium pistons have concave heads and very short skirts, their depth being only about half that of their diameter. The hollow gudgeon pins are fixed in the pistons and oil is supplied to the little ends through drilled connecting rods. These are made of steel and those on one side of the engine have forked ends carrying steel blocks, which are lined with white metal and bear on the crankshaft. The blocks are also faced with white metal and the other big-ends of the rods pass through the forks and fit round the blocks.
The crankshaft is of course hollow and lubricated by pressure. It runs in seven main bearings.
The supercharger is of the centrifugal type and air is drawn into it from both sides. It is driven by sun and planet gears from the flexibly driven auxiliary shaft in line with the crankshaft. The gear-ratio is not given, but is probably about 12 to 1, while the diameter of the supercharger is very much bigger than that on the Buzzard.
The two carburettors on the Schneider Trophy engine were at the supercharger end of the engine, at the bottom of the casing and mixture was drawn through them to each side of the rotor. A specially shaped air intake pipe between the blocks faced forward, and about two pounds additional pressure was produced by the forward motion of the machine. On the Blue Bird the supercharger end of the engine is in front, so the air intake will come from behind the radiator. In the space now made available between the cylinder blocks, six car-type carburettors have been installed.
The engine of the Blue Bird also differs from that shown in the illustration in not having the propellor reduction-gear. The Schneider Trophy engine was rated to give 2,350 h.p. for one hour, but as each 10 mile run at Daytona only takes about 3 minutes, the output has been brought up to 2.500 h.p. The engine speed is between 3,200 and 3.600 at which speed the centre main bearing is under a strain of about 9 tons.
The extra length of the power unit has made it necessary to lengthen Blue Bird's chassis, and the total length is now 27 feet. The side members have been prolonged to form supports for the radiator, which is no longer separated from the body shell. The cooling air therefore passes into the bonnet and will escape through enormous louvres in the sides. The header tank, which is connected to the radiator by two pipes passing over and under the very deep front chassis cross member, is tapered in front and cut away at the back to clear the supercharger casing.
The steering lay-out, in which independent steering rods, with steadying links near the front, were actuated by separate steering boxes has been retained. The front axle is positioned by a flexible radius rod, and the friction type shock absorbers are now arranged across the chassis.
The clutch has been re-designed to cope with the increased power output and the three speed gear box is offset to bring the propellor shaft in line with the final drive. This of course is also offset, so that Sir Malcolm sits on the right of the car below the level of the shafts.
A Dewandre vacuum-servo cylinder applies the brakes, and the drums are almost hidden inside the disc wheels. Needless to say Dunlop tyres will be used.
The Rolls Royce engine develops 2,500 h.p. against the 1,450 of the Napier formerly fitted. The power required to propel a vehicle increases at the square of the velocity, so with an extra 40% power one may expect about 6% increase in speed or an additional 18-20 m.p.h. The streamlining and other factors have been altered, however, so we will take refuge in the good old tip of "Wait and see."
Motor SportFebruary 1933
All Ready for the Record Attempt in February.

"Bluebird" in the grounds of Sir Malcolm Campbell's house at Povey Cross,
prior to being shipped to Daytona.
MESSRS. Gurney Nutting are to be congratulated on their success in building the latest body on Sir Malcolm Campbell's car. The Rolls-Royce power unit now fitted is much bigger than the Napier, but the panelling has been carried smoothly round and between the two blocks, which produces an effect not unlike the cowling of the Supermarine Schneider Trophy seaplane in which the engine first appeared. The radiator cowling is no longer independent of the body, but joins it at the top, and then sweeps down following the general line of the body. The engine is enclosed under a separate bonnet, tapering and enclosed at the forward end, so that the air from the radiator escapes between the front end of the bonnet and the radiator casing. The clean sweep of the radiator cowl is broken by a square pipe projecting forward. This is the supercharger intake, and its forward position is necessary to take advantage of the extra pressure built by the forward motion of the car, which amounts to about 2 lbs. at full speed. Sir Malcolm is rather pleased to have the pipe high up, even though it does detract slightly from the car's appearance, since it avoids any chance of sand or water getting drawn into the supercharger.
The smooth and glossy panels are unbroken except for six plated exhaust stubs on each side of the bonnet, and the fore and aft link which controls each front wheel. The rear of the car with its stabilising fin off-set behind the driver's seat, is unchanged from last year.
The cockpit is dominated by the large Smith rev, counter reading up to 3,500 r.p.m. The dial is divided off in the familiar way with sectors of various colours, while round the rim are marked the magic figures "230" "240" and so on up to "300." The dash carries the usual gauges for petrol, oil pressure, water temperature, and supercharger pressure and an unusual one in the shape of a thermometer giving the back axle temperature.
Motor Sport March 1933

272 MILES per hour! As the B.B.C. announcer calmly broadcast the news that Sir Malcolm Campbell had once again broken the world's record for the flying mile with a speed of 272.108 m.p.h., it required an almost impossible amount of imagination to appreciate fully the nature of his great achievement. Probably the fastest land speed ever witnessed by the majority of British motor-racing enthusiasts is the 137 m.p.h. lap speed of Sir Henry Birkin at Brooklands. Seen at close quarters from the Byfleet Bridge this speed looks terrific, as indeed it is. Now try (we say "try" purposely, for the most elastic imagination will be hopelessly inadequate), to picture "Bluebird" travelling at approximately double the velocity of Sir Henry Birkin's Bentley's lap speed.
So fast does the great car go that, if it were possible to race at such a speed on a track circuit, after starting level"Bluebird" would cover two laps to the Bentley's one. Again, supposing the cars were being timed over a beach-run like Daytona, with a flying start at their maximum speeds, "Bluebird" could give the Bentley a half-mile start in one mile and the cars would cross the finishing line together.
It was on Wednesday, February 22nd, that the record attempt was finally made, after a trying period of waiting for the conditions of the beach to improve. In many ways, however, this delay was a good thing, for it allowed Sir Malcolm's return to health after a severe bout of influenza to be fully accomplished, and sundry last-minute adjustments of the car to be made. The morning dawned misty and unpromising, but later the visibility improved as the mist lifted, and a decision was made to go out for the record there and then.
Through the length of beach available having been reduced from 11 miles to 9, the speed of "Bluebird's" first run was awaited with great interest. 50,000 people were lining the sand hills down the length of the course as the car set off to gather speed. The mist was still heavy enough to make everyone anxious for the welfare of the driver, but with superb judgment Campbell held the car under perfect control, as it hurtled into sight like a projectile. Then came the news "273.566 m.p.h." and a cheer went up from the excited spectators.
At the far end of the beach Sir Malcolm pulled up, and the car was immediately worked upon by mechanics, who changed all the tyres and checked over the machine. All this took about half-an-hour, and then the driver climbed back once more into the narrow cockpit.
On the second run the car seemed to bump a good deal, and at one moment gave a sudden lurch, but with his customary skill Sir Malcolm held the car to its course and recorded the terrific speed of 270.676 m.p.h. Quickly the mean average was worked out, and the spectators went wild with excitement when it was announced that "Bluebird" had set up a new world's record for the flying mile with a speed of 272.108 m.p.h.
One hardly knows how to start praising all those connected with this marvellous achievement. The driver, Sir Malcolm Campbell, who has broken the land's speed record no fewer than four times during the last few years at a speed of over 200 m.p.h. The designer, Mr. Reid Railton, whose genius has enabled the great car to be controllable at hitherto untried speeds. The erectors, Messrs. Thomson & Taylor, Ltd., and the manufacturers of the component parts. The Rolls-Royce engine, which has repeated the Schneider Trophy and World's Air Speed record in such a convincing manner, developing 2,350 h.p. at 3,200 r.p.m. and weighing only 11 oz. per h.p. The manufacturers of the tyres, the Dunlop people, on whose efforts the success of the record and the life of the driver depend to a fundamental degree, having to combine resistance to the cutting effect of small shells with the thinnest possible tread. The accessory suppliers, notably Messrs. C. C. Wakefield & Co., Ltd., whose Castrol oil has been used on every occasion when 200 m.p.h. has been exceeded. The Smith instruments, vital to the necessary coordination between driver and car; the Bluemel flexible steering
wheel, relieviing the driver of excessive fatigue; and Pratt's, whose Ethyl was used once more, together with K.L.G. plugs. Finally, the mechanics who travelled with the car to Daytona, under the direction of the ever cheerful Villar.
Altogether a marvellous show, of which every Britisher has every reason to be extremely proud.
Here are the official figures:
Old Record
Southward Run 273.556 13.16 267.459
Northward Run 270.676 13.60 241.770
Average 272.108 13.23 253.968
Southward Run 271.802 8.187 262.240
Northward Run 271.472 8.240 241.300
Average 271.636 8.235 251.340
5 Kilometres      
Average 257.295 - 247.941
Motor SportMarch 1933
Motor SportApril 1933