National Motor Museum Launches Campaign to Restore Iconic Land Speed Record Car ‘The Slug’
The National Motor Museum is set to launch the Sunbeam 1000hp Restoration Campaign on the anniversary of Major Henry Segrave’s Land Speed Record on March 29. The campaign aims to raise £300k to restore the colossal V12 aero engines of the iconic car affectionately nicknamed ‘The Slug’ and take it back to Daytona Beach in Florida for the 100th anniversary of the record-breaking run, in 2027.
Working with Hampshire-based Brookspeed Automotive, the restoration work will be carried out in front of visitors in the National Motor Museum and documented throughout the process with filming and blogs. The campaign will also offer opportunities for schools, colleges, and universities to get involved with STEM workshops and activities.
The National Motor Museum’s Head of Development Michelle Kirwan said, “To be able to take this iconic car back to Daytona, where world Land Speed Record history was made, would be incredible – especially in the centenary year. We are grateful for Brookspeed Automotive’s support with this campaign and look forward to working together to achieve the ultimate goal of such an historic run, which will capture the imagination of motoring enthusiasts around the world.”
The Sunbeam’s two 22.5 litre engines, each producing 435bhp, have not run for over half a century after corrosion attacked the internal workings. With painstaking rebuilding, National Motor Museum engineers will recapture the sounds, sights, and smells of this ground-breaking machine and help to preserve it for future generations.
Designed and built solely to break the 200mph barrier, the Sunbeam was once the fastest car in the world. In 1927, Major Segrave set a new world record by driving the car at an average speed of 203.79mph at Daytona. This remarkable achievement was due in no small part to the Sunbeam’s two engines. To generate enough power to reach such high speeds, two Sunbeam Matabele V12 aero engines were chosen for the bespoke design by Sunbeam Chief Engineer Louis Coatalen, with the driver’s cockpit positioned between the front and rear engines. The total weight of this massive car was well over 3 tons, while its unique streamlined bodywork earned it the nickname ‘The Slug’.
The Sunbeam went on display at Beaulieu in 1958 on loan, before being secured for public display by Edward, Lord Montagu in 1970. It now sits proudly at the heart of the National Motor Museum’s For Britain and For The Hell Of It display, alongside fellow world Land Speed Record breakers Sunbeam 350hp, Golden Arrow, and Bluebird CN7.
National Motor Museum Senior Engineer Ian Stanfield has started work to strip down the rear engine of the Sunbeam to discover the true extent of corrosion damage – but funds are now needed to turn back the clock and complete the full restoration project.
To help raise the profile of the vehicle’s centenary celebrations and the museum’s fundraising campaign, the Sunbeam will go on show at motoring events throughout the UK and Europe, as well as tour motoring museums across America. The campaign hopes to attract individual donations and corporate sponsorship.
This project is a wonderful opportunity to breathe new life into an iconic car, recapture the sound, sight, and smell of a ground-breaking machine, and preserve it for future generations. It also offers an opportunity to engage young people with STEM workshops and activities. Stay tuned to the National Motor Museum’s social media channels for updates on the restoration project and upcoming events.