However, the car’s two First World War 22½ litre V12, Matabele, aero-engines, designed by Louis Coatalen, have not run for over half a century and now many of their components are severely corroded.
a £300,000 appeal to fund repairs has been launched. The plan is to complete the repairs in time to take Sunbeam back to Florida, where it will be displayed to mark the 100th anniversary of its record-breaking run.
Museum engineers will work alongside those from Chandlers Ford based Brookspeed Automotive to bring the mighty engines back to life.
Restoration work will be carried out in front of visitors to the museum and documented throughout using blogs and other methods of recording progress.
Schools, colleges, and universities will be offered opportunities to take part in the project.
Michelle Kirwan, the museum’s head of development, said: “This is a wonderfully exciting opportunity to raise the funds necessary to breathe new life into the two engines.
“To be able to take this iconic car back to Daytona, where world land speed record history was made, would be incredible.”
The 25ft long vehicle was built by the Sunbeam Car Company, Wolverhampton, for the sole purpose of exceeding 200mph. Power from the engines was transmitted to the back axle via two massive chains. Thought had been given to what would happen if a chain had broken and entered the cockpit with possibly fatal results, they ran in armour-plated channels. One engine was mounted in front of the driver’s cockpit the other to the rear.
The bright red car weighed more than three tons but its streamlined bodywork earned it the nickname ‘The Slug’, an iconic title given its speed and power. Its official factory name was ‘Mystery’.
On March 29 1927 the Eton-educated Major Henry Segrave who was born in Baltimore, Maryland USA to an Anglo-Irish father and American mother, raised the world land speed record to 203.79mph in front of about 30,000 spectators.
Strong winds on the first outward run caused the Sunbeam to skid violently. Major Segrave was forced to drive into the sea to slow down before making history later that day.
Three years later, on Friday 13th June, he suffered fatal injuries during an attempt to set a new world water speed record on Lake Windermere in the English Lake District.
‘The Slug’ was loaned to what was then the Montagu Motor Museum in 1958 before being bought by Edward, Lord Montagu in 1970. It sits alongside fellow record-breakers including Golden Arrow and Donal Campbell’s Bluebird Proteus CN7.
The museum’s senior engineer, Ian Stanfield, has already started to strip down the Sunbeam’s rear engine to discover the true extent of the corrosion.
Anyone wishing to support the fundraising campaign should email firstname.lastname@example.org
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