Campbell-Railton-Rolls Royce Blue Bird 1935


The famous "Blue Bird" name originated when Malcolm Campbell, already a successful automobile racer at Brooklands, was inspired by Maeterlinck's play "The Blue Bird of Happiness". He went to his local hardware shop and bought up all the blue paint he could to paint his car. With paint still wet, the car won two races at Brooklands and a legend was born.

This car was powered by the same R-type Rolls Royce engine as 1933. This final version of the Blue Bird embodied some of the chassis of the 1927 car, plus the original front axle, brake drums and shoes. It had a new back axle with twin wheels out of alignment and double crown wheels and pinion. It also had a completely new body with an air intake slot in the nose which could be closed of for additional streamlining. The wheel fairings now formed part of the main body, which was built at Campbell's own garage at Brooklands, under Leo Villa's supervision. First trials were again at Daytona Beach in January 1935. This cars first record was 276.82 mph at Daytona Beach on 7th March, 1935. Subsequently this same year, this Blue Bird was taken to Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, where on the 3rd of September, 1935 Sir Malcolm Campbell set his last land speed record at 301.13 mph.

Campbell had been the first driver to achieve 250 miles an hour, but this had made him set his heart on being the first 300 miles-an-hour man.

This would require some radical changes be made to the Bluebird so that he could find the extra 25 miles an hour needed.

A major operation was begun under the direction of Reid Railton, and the modified Bluebird fitted with the Rolls-Royce engine had achieved a staggering 272.46 mph.

Campbell realised that he had ample power, the problem was in transmitting it to the sand; wheel-spin had robbed him of many miles an hour on his last run.

This was tackled by using a special type of rear axle with a separate propeller shaft to each wheel.

To enable the bevel gears and crown wheels to clear each other, one shaft was shorter than the other, so that the wheelbase on one side of the car was shorter than on the other.

There was no differential, and twin rear wheels were used. The body was also changed again, this time by enclosing the radiator in a fairing right across the front of the car, reducing the size of the tail fin, and placing fairings behind the rear wheels.

In this version Campbell first reached 276.82 and eventually broke through the 300 mph barrier.

Country of Manufacture:Great Britain
Engine Manufacturer:Rolls-Royce Type R Schneider Trophy aircraft type
2,300-2,500 bhp at 3,200rpm Single centrifugal supercharger
3speed gearbox, indirect drive
1.19 to 1 in top
Chassis: John Thompson Motor Pressings
Shock Absorbers:Andre
Brakes:Alford and Alder with Cayton Dewandre vacuum servo
Wheels:steel disc; twin rear wheels
Tyres:Dunlop 35 x 6in; front pressure 125lb rear pressure 110lb; tread 1/32in
Dimensions:Wheelbase 13ft 8in. but shorter by 1 1/2in on one side than the other due to layout of duplicated final drive. Track front 5ft 3in., Track rear 5ft, Length 28ft 3in., Weight 5 tons approx. dry
Body Manufacturer:Gurney Nutting and Co. Ltd


Date Location Driver Driver Country Vehicle Power Speed over
1 Km
Speed over
1 Mile
March 7, 1935 Daytona Beach, USA Sir Malcolm Campbell Great Britain Campbell Rolls-Royce Railton Blue Bird
Rolls Royce V-12
IC 276.16 mph (444.44 km/h) 276.71 mph (445.32 km/h) Last record set on a beach
September 3, 1935 Bonneville Salt Flats, USA Sir Malcolm Campbell Great Britain Campbell Rolls-Royce Railton Blue Bird
Rolls Royce V-12
IC   301.129 mph (484.620 km/h) First person to break 300 mph barrier



Full title reads: "Blue Bird's first test - Sir Malcolm Campbell is satisfied with trial run at Daytona".
Florida, United States of America (USA).
Sir Malcolm Campbell test drives his car 'Blue Bird' in preparation for his next land speed record attempt.
Various shots of Sir Malcolm Campbell in 'Blue Bird'. The car is being towed out onto Daytona Beach. A convoy of other cars and men in bicycles follow them. Various shots of mechanics changing tyres and checking oil on 'Blue Bird'.
Various shots of aeroplane flying low over the beach. Panning shot taken from sand dunes follows 'Blue Bird' whizzing at high speed across sand, over taking the plane flying over head.
C/U of Campbell speaking from cockpit. He tells the camera his is very satisfied with the first run.


'Bluebird' for sale at Wembley, London.
C/U Bonnet of Bluebird, pan up to show length of car. L/S car in yard. L/S from rear of car. C/S empty cockpit. C/U Steering wheel. C/U cockpit pan down to empty seat. M/S Sir Malcolm Campbell (library footage) assisted into cockpit. C/U Crowds. C/U Sir Malcolm in cockpit. L/S flag down for start, car moves out of picture.
L/S Car travelling at terrific speed. Aerial shot car travelling along beach. Dissolve to. C/U dials. C/U front wheel M/S Men at tyre. C/U Tyres, pan pulling off tread. Man at front of car. C/U two flags painted on car. L/S men walk from front to side of car. ML/S. Men at side of car, open bonnet to reveal engine. C/U engine. L/S along car. L/S Car standing in yard.

Sir Malcolm Campbell unveils his beautiful new machine.
The post card illustration below shows the Bluebird, which had an American and British Flag painted on the front of the hood.
Campbell is showing how the course at Daytona Beach damaged his tires during speed trails.
Sir Malcolm Wrote the following on a post card after breaking his new record in Daytona Beach, Florida. His trip home would be a time of deep contemplation and soul-searching.
the Bluebird being towed out to the area where he would begin his attempt at Bonneville.
On September 3, 1935 on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, Sir Malcolm Campbell raced into automobile history when he reached a maximum speed of 301.13 MPH (481.81 KPH)
Sir Malcolm Campbell is pictured here after achieving his amazing technological feat.
Artists impression.
Cut away view.

Improved streamlining was achieved by the design of the bodywork for the 1935 Blue Bird. Pairs of twin rear wheels were used, the rear fin was reduced in size and the radiator was completely redesigned. The flap along the front edge was closed during the run over the measured mile, to reduce air resistance as much as possible.