Sunbeam 1000hp at Wolverhampton factory before being shipped to Daytona.

Record-breaking Sunbeam gives up secrets

Riley Riley

National Motor Museum mechanics have discovered hidden artefacts during restoration of the Land Speed Record breaker Sunbeam 1000hp.

The historic finds were made after workers removed two colossal V12 aeroplane engines, workings and body panels from the vehicle.

A campaign is underway raise the £300,000 necessary to restore ‘The Slug’ for the journey back to Daytona Beach for the 100th anniversary of its 1927 record-breaking run.

A 1920s wood-handled screwdriver was found inside the oil tank where it would have remained undisturbed for almost a century.

An adjustable spanner was also found ‘glued’ to the chassis by vegetable-based Castrol R oil, while a 1921 shilling was unearthed in solidified oil on top of a rear suspension spring.

The tools would have been used by the original mechanics before Major Henry Segrave broke the 200 mph barrier.

National Motor Museum’s Ian Stanfield said the screwdriver could not have been removed from the oil tank because it was buried under the engine.

“We cleaned out the tank where the oil had solidified, using hot water and detergent, and after shaking the tank the vintage screwdriver eventually tipped out,” he said.

“After the LSR breaking run, the oil would have stuck like glue on top of the chassis which is where we made the other discoveries.”

“It is like a time capsule which is all part of the incredible history of Sunbeam 1000hp.

“It has only ever been driven for 50 miles (80.47 km) (80.47 km) (80.47 km) (80.47 km) (80.47 km) (80.47 km) (80.47 km) to break the world record and these are the style of tools which would have been used by the mechanics when they built it.”

The museum has needed to make bespoke tools in order to dismantle the iconic record breaker.

Visitors to Beaulieu can see the exposed chassis on show until Sunbeam 1000hp is taken on tour at the end of the summer. 

The Sunbeam 1000hp Restoration Campaign was launched with Hampshire-based Brookspeed Automotive in March.

There are plans to take the car to Europe and on tour to motoring museums across America.

Opportunities will also be offered for schools, colleges and universities to get involved with STEM workshops and activities.

The Sunbeam’s two 22.5 litre engines, which each produced 435 bhp, have not run since before World War II more than 80 years ago – after corrosion attacked internal workings.

With painstaking rebuilding, using specialist knowledge and bespoke parts, 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, this immensely powerful machine was once the fastest car in the world.

Donations for the Sunbeam 1000hp Restoration Campaign can be made here

Sponsors and corporate donors who would like to be associated with the campaign are urged to get in touch by emailing


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