Light the fires: 200mph Sunbeam 1000hp to run (sort of) again

1 year ago


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The Sunbeam 1000hp, a record-breaking land speed racer that hit 203.79mph in 1927, is set to celebrate its 90th anniversary in style.

No, it won't be getting a glitzy party or a glamorous photoshoot – that's no fitting tribute. Instead, its carers will attempt to breathe fresh life into one of its monstrous 22.4-litre engines.

Yes, that's right, this 1927 Sunbeam featured a pair of 22.4-litre V12 aero engines. Dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinders helped each motor thunder out in excess of 400bhp, endowing the hefty Sunbeam with somewhere in the region of 900bhp.

The Sunbeam established its 203.79mph record on Daytona Beach on 29 March, 1927.

Someone, somewhere along the line, took a little liberty and rounded that figure up to a neater-sounding 1000. Which, let's be honest, makes for much better marketing material – and it's what pretty much any petrolhead would do, anyway. Put your car on a rolling road and found it's making 390bhp? Yea, that's going to be 400bhp by the time you get to the pub, isn't it.

The Sunbeam, currently in the care of the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, hasn't run in over five decades. This itself poses some problems, but the more pressing issue is that aluminium blocks of the V12s have suffered from significant internal corrosion.

So, to minimise the task at hand and give the project a greater chance of success, the restoration team will work to recommission the rear engine only. Why the rear engine? Because it's the only one that can be started easily – with compressed air – as the front engine is started by the rear engine, through a clutch system.

Expert assistance will also be bought in, and new parts fabricated, in order to get the 'Matabele' V12 running again – helping preserve the sights, smells and eardrum-shredding noise for future generations.

The museum says that the restoration will begin before the car's 90th anniversary, on March 29th, and that the first engine start-up is planned for later in the year.

The Sunbeam 1000hp, nicknamed 'The Slug', is currently on display alongside the 1929 Golden Arrow and 1920 Sunbeam 350hp.

If you're interested in seeing the Sunbeam up close, then head to the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu. There, you'll find the car on the 'For Britain and For the Hell of it' stand.

The museum has also uploaded some footage of the original record-breaking run. Watch a short clip below, and check out the museum's channel if you'd like to watch a longer version.

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Comments (1)
  • It looks gorgeous too if you ask me.

    1 year ago
    1 Bump


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