1927: Sunbeam driven by Sir Henry Segrave

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Sunbeam driven by Sir Henry Segrave


United Kingdom
V12 Matabele Aero
44,880 cc
Bore x Stroke:
122 x 160 mm
1000 bhp (approx)
4 tons (approx)
20 ft
Top Speed:

203.79 mph


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.

They 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 chains.

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.

Also See:

Sir Henry Segrave
Land Speed Record Drivers
Herbert Austin LSR Attempt
History Of The Land Speed Record


Sir Henry Segrave pictured in his 1000 hp Sunbeam record breaker in 1927
Sir Henry Segrave pictured in his 1000 hp Sunbeam record breaker in 1927.
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