Over 50 years ago, November 1965, saw the end of an era of frenzied attack on the Land Speed Record. This included the women’s record set by Lee Breedlove shortly after her husband Craig Breedlove’s record time in his Spirit of America on 2nd November 1965. A recent donation to the Motoring Archives, the Greville K Dawson Collection, contains a wealth of information about the history of the Land Speed Record and the fascinating attempt to create a new Bluebird, the CN-8.
The collection of Dawson's own personal papers detail the attempt to resurrect Donald Campbell's Bluebird to regain the Land Speed Record for Great Britain, with which he was heavily involved. At the time,1966, Dawson was a 21 year old engineering apprentice at the Ministry of Defence, working towards a degree in mechanical engineering. As part of the course, Dawson had to write a 5000 word dissertation on a subject of his choice, the Land Speed Record. The manuscript turned out to be closer to 30000 words, and he sent it to Ken Norris, designer of Bluebird CN7, who was suitably impressed. During his studies, with the encouragement of Ken Norris, Dawson was able to work on different aspects of Bluebird's design, focussing on steering, suspension and braking for his engineering design projects.
Dawson tried many different avenues to generate publicity and sponsorship for the CN-8, as the new Bluebird was to be known, writing to celebrities and companies such as Dunlop, Kelloggs and Coca-Cola. The replies are in the collection, including those from Edward, 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu and from Prince Philip.
Ultimately the attempts to make the CN-8 a reality were unsucessful, but it helped keep the idea of a British Land Speed Record alive until Richard Noble made it a reality in 1983.
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