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Sunbeam’s Final Record Attempt Car 

As part of a donation relating to Sunbeam of Wolverhampton, the Collections Team was delighted to receive a photographic album that documents the last land speed record car to be made by Sunbeam, the Silver Bullet, which was built in 1929 for Kaye Don. It was powered by two specially designed 12 cylinder, 24litre lightweight engines, each capable of developing 490bhp at 2,400rpm. After achieving the American record for the flying start 5 miles of 151.623mph on 18 March 1930 at Daytona, the Silver Bullet team abandoned the World Speed record attempt and returned to England on 22 April. Unlike Segrave’s successful 1927 1,000hp Sunbeam which can be seen in the National Motor Museum, the fate of Silver Bullet was less illustrious and unfortunately it was scrapped.

The album serves as a wonderful record of this impressive vehicle that disappointingly failed to achieve any significant record. For this reason and given the ultimate fate of the car, we are lucky indeed the album survived as part of a collection of items, including signed dinner menus and newspaper cuttings.

The album has now been catalogued and preserved. It complements another important album already held in the collection, which depicts the 1927 1,000hp Sunbeam in which Major Henry Segrave officially exceed 200mph/321.86kph at Daytona on 29 March 1927.

Print version
Crankcase Moulding PatternsSupercharger Moulding PatternsCrankcase Moulding Core AssemblySilver Bullet's CrankcaseSilver Bullet's Chassis is wheeled outSilver Bullet's Chassis outside the Sunbeam worksSilver Bullet on Test BedSilver Bullet with Engineering Production TeamKaye Don seated in the Silver BulletSilver Bullet at Press ShowingSilver Bullet alongside a Sunbeam SaloonSilver Bullet's Transportation Crate

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The Silver Bullet that never hit its target
Crankcase Moulding Patterns

1: Crankcase Moulding Patterns

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Patterns being made for the Silver Bullet crankcase mouldings on 1st October 1929.

Supercharger Moulding Patterns

2: Supercharger Moulding Patterns

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Patterns being made for the Silver Bullet casings for the large superchargers. 1st October 1929.

 

Crankcase Moulding Core Assembly

3: Crankcase Moulding Core Assembly

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The individual moulding cores are being assembled to make the rear engine crankcase for the Silver Bullet. 12th October 1929.

Silver Bullet's Crankcase

4: Silver Bullet's Crankcase

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The moulded crankcase for the Silver Bullet being checked for straightness before leaving the foundry. 1st October 1929.

Silver Bullet's Chassis is wheeled out

5: Silver Bullet's Chassis is wheeled out

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The completed chassis of the Silver Bullet is wheeled out and around the Sunbeam works at Wolverhampton by the staff.

Silver Bullet's Chassis outside the Sunbeam works

6: Silver Bullet's Chassis outside the Sunbeam works

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The completed chassis of the Silver Bullet is wheeled out and around the Sunbeam works at Wolverhampton by the staff.

Silver Bullet on Test Bed

7: Silver Bullet on Test Bed

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The completed chassis of the Silver Bullet on the test bed at the Wolverhampton Sunbeam workshop.

Silver Bullet with Engineering Production Team

8: Silver Bullet with Engineering Production Team

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Members of the engineering  production team in the workshop at Wolverhampton Sunbeam, along side the completed chassis.

Kaye Don seated in the Silver Bullet

9: Kaye Don seated in the Silver Bullet

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Kaye Don seated in the Silver Bullet at the Wolverhampton Sunbeam works. Those present included C.B. Kay the production Manager, Hugh Rose a designer and many of the men who built the car.The team left Southampton for New York on 26 February 1930, and arrived at Daytona Beach on 8 March.  Unfortunately many problems were encountered, including a fire. The fastest speed attained in tests was 186 mph, and after 18 unsuccessful runs the record attempt was abandoned.  The team returned to England on 22 April 1930, the car was sold and eventually scrapped.  Sunbeam went into Receivership in 1935.

Silver Bullet at Press Showing

10: Silver Bullet at Press Showing

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The Silver Bullet being shown to the press, alongside two Sunbeam saloons. 

Silver Bullet alongside a Sunbeam Saloon

11: Silver Bullet alongside a Sunbeam Saloon

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The Silver Bullet being shown to the press, alongside a Sunbeam saloon.

Silver Bullet's Transportation Crate

12: Silver Bullet's Transportation Crate

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The Silver Bullet is crated ready for its journey to Daytona, via Southampton and New York.

 

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