Campbell-Railton-Rolls Royce Blue Bird 1935

The famous "Blue Bird" name originated when Malcolm Campbell, already a successful automobile racer at Brooklands, was inspired by Maeterlinck's play "The Blue Bird of Happiness". He went to his local hardware shop and bought up all the blue paint he could to paint his car. With paint still wet, the car won two races at Brooklands and a legend was born.

This car was powered by the same R-type Rolls Royce engine as 1933. This final version of the Blue Bird embodied some of the chassis of the 1927 car, plus the original front axle, brake drums and shoes. It had a new back axle with twin wheels out of alignment and double crown wheels and pinion. It also had a completely new body with an air intake slot in the nose which could be closed of for additional streamlining. The wheel fairings now formed part of the main body, which was built at Campbell's own garage at Brooklands, under Leo Villa's supervision. First trials were again at Daytona Beach in January 1935. This cars first record was 276.82 mph at Daytona Beach on 7th March, 1935. Subsequently this same year, this Blue Bird was taken to Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, where on the 3rd of September, 1935 Sir Malcolm Campbell set his last land speed record at 301.13 mph.

Campbell had been the first driver to achieve 250 miles an hour, but this had made him set his heart on being the first 300 miles-an-hour man.

This would require some radical changes be made to the Bluebird so that he could find the extra 25 miles an hour needed.

A major operation was begun under the direction of Reid Railton, and the modified Bluebird fitted with the Rolls-Royce engine had achieved a staggering 272.46 mph.

Campbell realised that he had ample power, the problem was in transmitting it to the sand; wheel-spin had robbed him of many miles an hour on his last run.

This was tackled by using a special type of rear axle with a separate propeller shaft to each wheel.

To enable the bevel gears and crown wheels to clear each other, one shaft was shorter than the other, so that the wheelbase on one side of the car was shorter than on the other.

There was no differential, and twin rear wheels were used. The body was also changed again, this time by enclosing the radiator in a fairing right across the front of the car, reducing the size of the tail fin, and placing fairings behind the rear wheels.

In this version Campbell first reached 276.82 and eventually broke through the 300 mph barrier.