Success – but it was bittersweet. By 1964 Donald Campbell had battled accident, injury, weather, and increasing public criticism in his fraught quest for the Land Speed Record. He saw it as a feather in Britain’s technological cap, but public interest was waning and it was an increasing struggle.
These pictures, from a collection of 93 newly donated to the National Motor Museum’s photo archive, were taken by a team member during the ultimately triumphant attempt when Bluebird CN7 recorded 403.10mph over the measured mile across Lake Eyre, South Australia. But a poor salt surface, a shorter than desired course and tyre problems held back the 4WD machine which had been designed for speeds nearer 500mph. Nevertheless it was a new record, and 200,000 people turned out to watch him drive the car through the streets of Adelaide afterwards. Meanwhile the FIA had decided that jet-powered vehicles would now qualify for the LSR; this would be the last outright record set by a wheel-driven car.