27 September 2022
Staples and Vine Campbell-Railton 'Blue Bird' and Mercedes-Benz T80
PRICE: £125.00 (Blue Bird) or £110.00 (T80) - optional figures are £15 each
Something a bit special to lead with this month - two incredible land speed record cars from a bygone age, both with a great story to tell. One is definitely more recognisable than the other, but there's a good reason for that.
The most instantly-recognisable of the pair, Sir Malcolm Campbell’s ‘Blue Bird’, continually evolved, setting record after record. The original design, in 1931, was rebuilt with a Rolls-Royce V12 engine for 1933, when Campbell set a speed of 272 mph, but the car was suffering from significant wheelspin. Further modified, with new, full-width bodywork, the version of Blue Bird modelled here was prepared for a further attempt two years later. On the 3rd of September 1935, in the final incarnation of Blue Bird, at the Bonneville salt flats, Campbell set a new record of 301.129 mph, becoming the first man to break the 300 mph barrier. Today Blue Bird is preserved at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, at the Daytona Speedway in Florida (there is a replica in the Campbell gallery at the Lakeland Motor Museum, Cumbria).
Slightly less well-known, the mighty Messerschmitt-engined Mercedes-Benz T80 was set to obliterate the land speed world record, but then war intervened. The Mercedes-Benz T80 was built in the late 1930s for Germany’s attempt on the outright land speed record. Designed by Ferdinand Porsche and powered by a 44.5 litre Daimler-Benz aero engine, it was christened the ‘Schwarzer Vogel’ (‘Black Bird’) by Hitler. The outbreak of World War II prevented a record attempt from being made. Today the T80 resides in the Mercedes-Benz Museum, Stuttgart, albeit without the mighty engine, which was removed when war broke out and the car moved to a secret, safe location in Austria.
Each model is hand-crafted in pewter and then finished by hand too. Even the optional figurines are as well, which are really quite astonishing, by the way, and are most definitely worth the extra investment, as they totally bring the display to life. Both cars come fixed to their respective, impressive display plinths, which really lift the models several notches - Blue Bird's replicates the salt flats, on which it set the Land Speed Record, and the T80's a stretch of concrete, late 1930s Autobahn.
Blue Bird is 200mm in length, whilst the T80 is slightly shorter at 190mm. Both are mounted on a 285mm x 115mm display plinth.
The models are only available direct from Staples and Vine, and are limited to just 100 examples of each. Both are supplied with a history of the car, and a numbered certificate signed by the sculptor, Sera Staples. So put your racing suits on and speed across to the Staples and Vine website to find out more and to order while you still can.