Forget about Bluebird, this is not Sir Malcolm Campbell that we’re talking about here but George Eyston another British Speed King who is largely forgotten today.
The Rolls-Royce Landspeed Collection recalls Capt George Eyston’s record breaking runs in Thunderbolt, a dramatic-looking LSR car that notched-up 357.497 mph at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah on 16th September 1938. Eyston snatched the title from another Brit, John Cobb, only 24 hours after he’d driven his Railton Special powered by two Napier Lion W12 engines.
George Eyston’s power came from twin 37-litre Rolls-Royce V12 aero engines - one of them donated by Malcolm Campbell due to their scarcity at the time. Thunderbolt - a juggernaut which was twice the weight of its competitors at 7-tons - was constructed by Bean Industries a Midlands firm that produced cars built on American-inspired moving assembly lines in the Twenties and which then outsold Austin and Morris.
Sadly, Thunderbolt was destroyed in a warehouse fire in New Zealand in 1940 - but this ultraexclusive duo is already being produced at the impeccable Rolls-Royce manufacturing facility at Goodwood. The Landspeed Rolls-Royce Wraith and Dawn Black Badge models will be limited to 35 and 25 examples respectively.
Word has it, though, that every one has been allocated to select customers. Now that really is quick work.
An interesting historical aside is that Thunderbolt’s polished metal profile played havoc with the photo-electric timing devices used for the record attempts. The equipment could not distinguish the car clearly enough against the searing white heat of the salt flats - which was a bit of problem for any record breaker we think you’ll agree. So canny George Eyston painted a large black arrow with a yellow circle on the flanks.
You will not find this quick-fix replicated on any of these RollsRoyce models but a special clock face is detailed in black and yellow and other subtle detailing and unique colour schemes distinguish these highly collectable cars that pay homage to a forgotten hero and his mount.