Golden Arrow, the stunningly beautiful car in which Major Henry Segrave raised the World Land Speed Record to 231.36mph at Daytona Beach, Florida, in March 1929, could run again following the discovery of three Napier Lion aero engines of the type which powered it past the White Triplex’s 1928 mark of 20’7.55mph. The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu’s dream of returning the Irving Special (designed by Captain Jack Irving and engineered by his brother Harold) to full working order has depended upon locating another of the 24-litre W12 engines to preserve the original Schneider Trophy-type Lion.
An Act of God pointed the way, when not one but three of the units, which developed 930bhp apiece, were unearthed at Whale Cay in the Bahamas in 1995, when Hurricane Andrew flattened a shed in which they had been interred for 66 years by pioneer hydroplane racer Marion Joe’ Carstairs. They are now back in Britain, where the painstaking task of renovation can begin.
‘Our aim is to get Golden Arrow running by its 70th birthday in 1999,’ National Motor Museum founder Lord Montagu told the Daily Telegraph last month. Costs are expected to be in the region of 1.100,000 and sponsorship is being urgently sought. Interestingly, private and commercial money also paid for the construction of the car. The sensational 28ft-long machine, the most beautiful record breaker of the piston-engined era, stood just 38 inches tall two inches lower than the Ford GT40 sportscar of the 1960s. It wowed spectators as a static display at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 1995.
Thrust SSC occupied the same place before Goodwood House at the 1996 Festival, and has now pushed the record past 700mph (see separate story). Following an achievement of similar magnitude, given the technology available, Segrave was honoured with motorsport’s first knighthood. He still held the Land Speed Record at the time of his death on Lake Windermere in June 1930 after setting a new Water Speed Record of almost 99mph. Former Grand Prix racer and TV commentator Jonathan Palmer launched Formula Palmer Audi, a new series designed to radicaliy alter the routefor racers into Formula One on October 1. For a budget of 185,000 (a third of its F3 equivalent), F1 aspirants will race identical 250bhp, 1.8 litre Audi-engined cars built by Van Diemen, but run by Palmer’s organisation, in a 16-race championship starting next April. The champion wins a sponsored season in F3000 in 1999.