Sir Henry Segrave had topped 150 miles an hour with
his four litre Tiger, but he wanted something faster,
and asked Coatalen to provide it. Coatalen’s
answer was to unearth two 12-cylinder Matabele aero
engines from the Wolverhampton works and build them
into a massive chassis-one in front of the driver
and one behind.
The Sunbeam engineer Captain J. S. Irving
designed this frightening machine, in which the rear
engine, after being started by compressed air, started
the front one through a friction drive, and the pair
were finally locked together by a dog clutch.
drove a three-speed gearbox which sent the power
to a countershaft, final drive being by chain to
save money. An aluminium body shell hid all these
mysteries, with armoured steel guards over the perilous
Segrave did not much care for these, particularly
as he heard the news whilst en route to Daytona that
Thomas had been decapitated by one. Segrave was supposed
to change up at 2,000 rpm at 74 mph., and 137 mph.,
with a theoretical top speed of 212 mph., which in
the event proved a little optimistic.