The 350HP’s inaugural race was at Brooklands in 1920. The driver was one Harry Hawker. Also that year, Rene Thomas set a new record with the Sunbeam at the Gaillon hill climb, followed by Jean Chassagne at the Brooklands Easter Meeting’s 13th Lighting Short handicap (he won) and Malcolm Campbell borrowed it to enter the Saltburn Speed Trials where he broke his first speed record at 138.08 mph (222.22 km/h). In those days however, the manual stopwatch system was not acceptable for timing an official record.
Campbell persuaded the owner of the Sunbeam to sell it to him, then promptly painted it blue and renamed it ‘Blue Bird’. 23 June 1923 saw Campbell at Fanø in Denmark, recording another record-breaking speed of 137.72 mph (221.64 km/h) over the flying kilometre. Again, the record was not officially accepted, as the timing equipment was deemed unauthorised. During the winter of 1923–1924 the car was sent to the aircraft maker Boulton Paul at Norwich, for wind tunnel tests. The car was then taken to Pendine Sands in South Wales where the first of Campbell’s nine records was accomplished on 24 September 1924, with a speed of 146.16 mph (235.23 km/h). And this time, thankfully, it was officially sanctioned.
This edition captures the adrenaline of that moment, a world away from todays production cars that can easily reach and breech the speed achieved by Malcolm on that day. The rear perspective captures an angle mostly not explored, the distant finish banner on the horizon and the glimmer of saltwater pools on the surface of the sands gives an indication of the challenge. No seat belts or traction control and a very minor glass deflector, a pair of goggles and an ambition to smash another record coupled man and machine to greatness and legend.
Don Wales returned to Pendine Sands in 2015 and drove his grandfather’s Sunbeam Bluebird to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the record. Don has added his signature to the editions adding to the ownership experience and exclusivity of the work.
This signed print is one of a limited edition of 150. It’s recorded on Hahnemühle stock via a large format mimeograph and generally referred to as Giclée prints of premium quality. The paper is white 100% a-cellulose with a distinct textured surface and the premium matt inkjet coating more than meets the highest industry standards vis-à-vis density, colour gamut, colour graduation and image sharpness, while preserving the extraordinary touch and feel of genuine art paper.
Signed limited edition
1 of 150, 420mm x 597mm
Recorded on Hahnemühle