ROLLS-ROYCE LANDSPEED COLLECTION: RECALLING A FORGOTTEN HERO
Dawn Black Badge NEDCcorr (combined): Fuel consumption - 16.3 l/100 km. CO2 emission - 371 g/km.*
Wraith Black Badge NEDCcorr (combined): Fuel consumption - 16.1 l/100 km. CO2 emission - 367 g/km.*
“It’s human nature to want to go further, do more, be greater than ourselves. The innate desire to extend horizons and define new limits is an instinct we’ve always understood at Rolls-Royce; and we have acted upon it once again with our new Landspeed Collection.
“The Collection, which includes both Wraith and Dawn Black Badge, celebrates someone with exactly that dauntless, fearless, pioneering spirit. His name was Captain George Eyston, a Cambridge University graduate, racing driver, gifted inventor and engineering genius. In the late 1930s, he broke the world landspeed record three times with his car Thunderbolt, powered by two Rolls-Royce R V12 aero engines. He was a true hero from an age of epic endeavours; yet both he and Thunderbolt have been all-but forgotten for more than 80 years.
“With this Collection, we have revived Eyston’s memory and retold his remarkable story. Throughout Wraith and Dawn Landspeed, clients will find numerous subtle design elements and narrative details that recall and commemorate his amazing achievements, grand vision and exceptional courage.”
Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars
Rolls-Royce has been associated with world speed records on both land and water for more than a century. But while the exploits of Sir Malcolm Campbell are well documented and widely known, another British hero who set three land-speed records using Rolls-Royce engines has been largely overlooked by history.
Now, after more than 80 years, Rolls-Royce recalls this hero’s inspiring exploits. With the new Wraith and Dawn Black Badge Landspeed Collection, the marque uncovers and retells the remarkable story of the redoubtable Captain George Eyston, and his extraordinary car, Thunderbolt.
Born in 1897, George Eyston was fascinated with motorsport from childhood, racing both cars and (under an assumed name) motorcycles while still at school. His degree in engineering at Trinity College, Cambridge, was interrupted by the Great War, in which he served with distinction, rising to the rank of captain and winning the Military Cross. He spent the 1920s and 30s developing and driving racing cars; a talented inventor, he also held a number of patents, particularly in the field of supercharging.
In 1935, Eyston was among the first British racers to travel to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, where he set new 24-hour and 48-hour endurance speed records. He subsequently received the Segrave Trophy, awarded to ‘the British national who demonstrates Outstanding Skill, Courage and Initiative on Land, Water and in the Air’.
In 1937, he returned to the Flats and went on to set three world land-speed records with Thunderbolt. This extraordinary machine had three axles, eight wheels and weighed seven tonnes, earning it monikers such as ‘behemoth’ and ‘leviathan’ in contemporary reports. The body was made from aluminium and, in its original form, had a blunt, heavyset profile topped with a large triangular tailfin.
CELEBRATING ACHIEVMENT, INNOVATION AND COURAGE
The Rolls-Royce Landspeed Collection draws inspiration from George Eyston’s remarkable life and record-breaking feats. It also has strong aesthetic links to the unique, otherworldly landscape of the Bonneville Salt Flats where Thunderbolt made him, albeit briefly, the fastest man on Earth. The Collection Car duo is presented in a specially created two-tone finish, which marries Black Diamond Metallic with a new Bespoke colour, Bonneville Blue. This specially developed hue bares particular significance to the Collection, with a colour that transitions under sunlight from light blue to silver, illustrating the reflections of both the vast sky over Bonneville and the crisp salt flats on Thunderbolt’s aluminium body.
Thunderbolt was powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce R supercharged 37-litre, V-12 aero engines, each producing well over 2,000 horsepower. Around only 19 of these engines were ever made: indeed, they were so rare that Thunderbolt’s engines had a previous career in the Schneider Trophy-winning Supermarine S6.B seaplane that would lay the foundations for the legendary Spitfire.
Today, Thunderbolt’s two R engines are preserved at the Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon and the Science Museum in London. The car itself, however, has been lost. After being exhibited at the 1940 Centennial Exhibition in New Zealand, it was placed in storage, but was sadly destroyed in 1946 when 27,000 bales of wool, housed in the same building, caught fire.
Production of Landspeed Collection cars is strictly limited to just 25 examples of Dawn and 35 of Wraith, all of which have already been allocated to customers.
What story would your Rolls-Royce tell? We can help you make it come true. Call us or visit us at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Dresden.
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