Letter to The Times, February 3 2014.
‘The 350 HP Sunbeam Record Breaker was not fitted with a Manitou aircraft engine but with a purpose-designed engine.’
Sir, Your report on the National Motor Museum’s ceremonial firing-up of the 350 HP Sunbeam Record Breaker (Jan 30) was not entirely accurate. The car was not fitted with a Manitou aircraft engine but with a purpose-designed engine. This was emphatically pointed out to me in the 1970s by a Mr James who had joined the Sunbeam company in 1912 and worked on the development of the original Land Speed Record (LSR) car.
A fundamental difference lies in the valve layout: the LSR engine has three per cylinder whereas a Manitou had four. The car engine owes much of its parentage to the dangerously unsuccessful Sunbeam Arab crudely cribbed from the Hispano-Suiza aero-engine. Sunbeam had provided aero-engines in the Great War, mainly to the Admiralty, and had specialist experience and unsold parts at the close of hostilities — it would have drawn on both resources for the car.
(Editor, Sunbeam, Talbot, Darracq Register Newsletter)