Rolls-Royce 'Waterspeed' tribute to Bluebird

DAVE MOORE
Last updated 12:12 24/02/2014
Rolls-Royce Waterspeed Collection

ROLLS-ROYCE WATERSPEED COLLECTION: Sir Malcolm Campbell's water speed record car from 1937 forms the theme for just 35 special Phantom Drophead Coupes.

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Such is the success of Rolls-Royce these days, with the BMW-owned concern having posted another record trading year, that they're even becoming a regular sight in New Zealand - not that regular it has to be said.

They're not common, you understand, despite being uncommonly capable cars, to which we can attest after conducting an exclusive drive of the Wraith model in 2013.

However, just to cut the Goodwood, England-based company's rare and lovely Phantom Drophead Coupe a little further away from the ordinary, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has revealed some exclusive sketches of the Bespoke Waterspeed Collection, which is a series of 35 Phantom Drophead Coupes that celebrates the derring-do of British speed record adventurer from the 1920s and 30s, Sir Malcom Campbell - a seminal act of British daring and endeavour.

On the morning of September 1, 1937 at the apogee of the battle between the United States and Great Britain to be the fastest nation on water, Sir Malcolm, father of the equally famous Donald Campbell, headed out onto the calm blue waters of Lake Maggiore on the Swiss-Italian frontier.

At the helm of his Bluebird K3 hydroplane boat, powered by Rolls-Royce's V12 R-Type engine, he established a water speed record of 126.32mph (203.29kmh).

The following day he went one better, piloting his craft to 129.5mph (208.41kmh) and in doing so emphatically broke the United States' five-year stranglehold on the world water speed record.

Campbell's momentous achievement captured the world's attention and reaffirmed the Rolls-Royce R-Type engines' record-breaking superiority after triumphs on land and in the air.

In celebration of the man and the craft, by echoing the cutting-edge technology employed in the construction of these machines, only the finest contemporary materials, some never used before on a Rolls-Royce furnish the 2014 Waterspeed Collection.

Brushed steel replaces the texture deck timber of the non-bespoke Phantom Drophead Coupe, and complements an exclusively developed ''Maggiore Blue'' colour scheme, while handcrafted wood inlays evoke the sense of a boat effortlessly gliding through water at pace.

''Sir Malcolm Campbell's successful pursuit of world speed records on land and water were the result of his commitment to the most exacting standards of British design and engineering excellence,'' says Torsten Mller-Otvos, chief executive of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

''Such attributes are hallmarks of every Rolls-Royce motor car, ensuring the marque's position at the pinnacle of super-luxury manufacturing. This special Collection, and those to follow in 2014, serve to display the breadth of Bespoke personalisation available to every Rolls-Royce customer. I very much look forward to revealing these remarkable cars over the coming months.''

Following the release of this design sketch that gives a candid insight into the conception of Rolls-Royce's latest Bespoke project, further details will be revealed in the coming months telling the story of the creation of the Waterspeed Collection, with a show car expected at next month's Geneva Motor Show.

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''I am delighted that Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has chosen our grandfather's iconic Bluebird Waterspeed boats as inspiration for this special Collection,'' said Donald Wales, grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell.

''I am certain Sir Malcolm would be extremely flattered to see his name still closely associated with such a prestigious brand 75 years after his last world water speed record. I know that I speak for our whole family and the Malcolm Campbell Heritage Trust when I say that it is a great honour and we look forward to seeing the first car off the production line.''

K3 Bluebird

- The Press

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