Bluebird Proteus CN7 was built at our facility in 1960. In January 2012, Adrian Newey, F1 racing car designer for Red Bull, and previously Williams GP and McLaren, praised Bluebird CN7 in Racecar Engineering Magazine: ‘I think in terms of one of the biggest advances made, was Bluebird. Arguably for its time it was the most advanced vehicle.’
The Bluebird Proteus CN7 was the car that Donald Campbell used to set a record of 403.1mph in July, 1964, the last outright land speed record car that was wheel driven. It was a revolutionary car that featured an advanced aluminium honeycomb chassis, featured fully independent suspension and four-wheel drive. It also had a head-up display for Campbell. ‘It was the first car to properly recognise, and use, ground effects,’ says Newey.
The car featured a Bristol-Siddeley Proteus gas turbine engine that developed over 4,000bhp. It was a two-spool, reverse flow gas turbine engine that was specially modified to have a drive shaft at each end of the engine, to separate fixed ratio gearboxes on each axle. It was designed to do 500mph, but surface conditions, brought about by adverse weather in 1963 and 1964, meant that its fastest recorded time was nearly 100mph short of its hypothetical capability. It is interesting to note that, should an exact replica be built today, and it did achieve its potential, it would beat the existing record of 470.444mph set by Don Vesco’s Vesco Turbinator in 2001, and still be the fastest wheel-driven car today.