UK & World News
Campbell's Bluebird Roars Back To Life
The first car to break the 150mph world land speed record has roared back to life for the first time in half a century.
Sir Malcolm Campbell's Sunbeam 350hp - which he named Bluebird - exploded into action after being started by mechanics at the Beaulieu motor museum in Hampshire.
Earplugs were handed out to some 200 spectators and staff as engineers pressurised the fuel and primed Sunbeam's carburetors.
Without so much as a stubborn splutter, the Sunbeam exploded into life on the first swing with a growl as loud as a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine.
The record-breaking car, which uses a traditional swinging handle to fire, reached 146.16mph (235.226kph) at Pendine Sands, a seven-mile stretch of beach at Carmarthen Bay in west Wales in June 1924.
As land-speed record attempts edged closer toward the magic milestone of 150mph, race tracks and roads became unsuitable as there was not enough space for acceleration or breaking.
A year later Bluebird hit 150.76mph which made Campbell the first person to break the 150mph barrier on land.
After entering the record books she was bought and sold by several enthusiasts until making a surprise appearance at the Southport Speed Trials in 1936.
The Beaulieu Motor Museum workshop team and volunteers began a mechanical rebuild of the engine in 2007, enlisting the help of the Sunbeam Talbot Darracq Register to find parts, specialist services and skills.
Seeing the Sunbeam brought back to life was an emotional moment for the engineers who helped rebuild her.
Ian Stanfield, Beaulieu senior engineer said: "It's a one-off engine. There's nothing else like it.
"We spent a lot of time thinking about everything such as the belt timing and ignition timing.
"We had to pressurise the fuel, prime the carburetors manually, turn the ignition system on, then rotate the handle and hope she burst into life."
Also watching closely was Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, who bought the Sunbeam in 1957 and was the last person to drive her when he took her for a three-lap spin at Goodwood in 1962.
Sir Malcolm's son Donald also drove the car that day.
"That clutch was very sticky in 1962," 87-year-old Lord Montagu said. "She had a very difficult gearbox, too.
"The noise was a bit frightening today, but it's so wonderful; so wonderful to see her restored again at last."
Campbell's choice of Bluebird as a name for the car stuck with vehicles the family used for land and water speed record attempts until Donald lost his life on Coniston Water in January 1967.
:: Watch Sky News live on television, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.