Land Speed Record breaking 1920 Sunbeam 350hp

The National Motor Museum’s Land Speed Record breaking 1920 Sunbeam 350hp has been fitted with a replacement gearbox to match its rebuilt engine, decades after losing its original gearbox.

The ongoing project to restore and preserve Sir Malcolm Campbell’s iconic machine, which set a 150mph World Land Speed Record nearly a century ago, has been a labour of love for Beaulieu’s workshop engineers.

Having painstakingly rebuilt its complex V12 engine, they triumphantly took this landmark vehicle back to Pendine Sands in South Wales in 2015, for a low-speed reconstruction of its World Land Speed Record 90 years earlier.

However, while the engine was then in fine fettle, the non-original gearbox has always been the Achilles’ heel in this car’s history and has long been the missing part of its puzzle. At some point after World War II, the original gearbox was removed and by the time the Sunbeam became an exhibit at the National Motor Museum, it was fitted with a temporary gearbox from an Albion 35hp. Only designed to handle a tenth of the engine’s power, this gearbox also lacked a transmission brake – an important part of the Sunbeam’s original brake set-up.

Reinstating a suitable gearbox has been a priority for the engineers, as the next stage of the car’s ongoing preservation. With help from the museum’s supporters, a sturdy Bentley C-type gearbox has been sourced and adapted to fit the Sunbeam’s chassis with custom-made mounts. This unit has proven, in other applications, to be well suited to the task of handling the colossal power of the 18-litre V12 engine.

Best of all, this is enabling the engineers to install a robust and historically correct transmission brake and propshaft. Once the full installation has been completed, the Sunbeam will have the robust transmission its mighty engine deserves.

The 1920 Sunbeam 350hp can usually be seen on display at the National Motor Museum, as part of a multi-media presentation which also features its record-breaking stablemates the 1927 Sunbeam 1,000hp, 1929 Golden Arrow and 1960 Bluebird CN7.

Although great strides have been made, a project such as this cannot be rushed. Further funding is always required for the ongoing preservation of the museum’s collection. If you are keen to help with funding support, please get in touch at

The National Motor Museum’s collection of over 280 vehicles is world-famous, along with its extensive range of motoring artefacts, photographic images, specialist reference library and film and video library. For more information about its collection and services see

Visitors can enjoy all of the features of the attraction with a ticket to Beaulieu, including entry to the National Motor Museum, On Screen Cars, World of Top Gear, the ancestral Montagu home Palace House, Secret Army exhibition, Beaulieu Abbey and its grounds and gardens. Tickets can be bought in advance online. For tickets and details see or call 01590 612345.

Christopher Macgowan


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Venice tourism controls.

VENICE is continuing in its fight against over-tourism by tracking the number of tourists that come to the city, although controversially, the council will be tapping in to mobile phones to do so.


Photo inset shows the mobi phones checker – more than thirty are installed and they can reveal how long someone has been in the city.

Christopher Macgowan


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LEVC prototype vans underway

Ansty, 7 February 2020 – The first prototypes of the new van from London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) are now being built at the company’s state-of-the-art factory in Ansty, Coventry, ahead of its debut at this year’s CV show on the 28th April.

Due to the advanced manufacturing flexibility of the LEVC factory, it has been possible to build these verification prototypes on the same line, fully integrated with current TX production.

The prototypes will be deployed as test vehicles and undergo a strict development and homologation programme including hot and cold climate testing, durability and crash testing.

LEVC’s electric van is constructed using the same lightweight aluminium architecture as its TX electric taxi – 30% lighter than a conventional steel body, resistant to any form of rust and pound for pound can absorb twice the crash energy of mild steel.  

It also shares class-leading manoeuvrability with a city-friendly turning circle of just 10.1m and, most importantly for drivers and fleet operators, the LEVC electric van will offer class leading total cost of ownership.  

Joerg Hofmann, CEO of LEVC, commented: “Prototype stage is an important milestone in our new electric van’s development process as we stay on track towards full production in Q4.  This new van satisfies the growing demand zero-emissions vehicles in the 1-tonne segment, currently dominated by diesel products, and combines this with extended mileage capability to totally eliminate any range-anxiety.  It’s an intelligent green mobility solution for any commercial vehicle operator.”  

Using the proven TX e-City range extender technology, LEVC’s new van will set new standards in green logistics with 80 miles (130km) of emissions free driving and an extended electrically driven total range of over 370 miles (600km).   Owing to its flexible range, it offers a ‘distribution to door’ – not just last mile – service, providing the critical link between out of town depots and city centres.

Christopher Macgowan


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Beaulieu Blue Light Day

Get behind the scenes of the emergency services at Beaulieu’s brand new Blue Light Day on Sunday April 26th and see fully kitted-out fire engines and ambulances, as well as the vehicles of the police, Coastguard, Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and other vital services.

Meet the crews who drive and ride in the fast response vehicles and learn about their incredible work. Be impressed by a line-up of larger-than-life fire engines of all ages, spanning from the mighty machines in service today, right the way back to a preserved 1965 Morris FG40 fire engine at the show in the grounds of the National Motor Museum.

Sit in a police car and talk with officers about their front-line duties. Then for a nostalgic blast from the past, see a selection of historic police cars from the Blue Light Vehicle Preservation Group – can you remember seeing these distinctive motors with their ‘blues and twos’ on the beat?

Clamber inside the fully kitted-out ambulances used by the Fire and Rescue Service and South Central Ambulance Service, then see their vintage counterparts in the impressive display. You may even be lucky enough to spot a 1950s Green Goddess fire engine or maybe a 1960s police ‘panda’ car.

Teams from Hampshire Search and Rescue (HANTSAR), the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and HM Coastguard will be talking to show-goers about their rescues and showcasing vital equipment. New Forest Verderers and Agisters will bring a New Forest pony and chat to visitors about their important work to protect the forest, while Hampshire Fire Dogs will be accompanied by canine colleagues.

Become a big kid for the day and enjoy all of the feature displays. The action-packed event takes place on National Drive It Day, as historic vehicles take to the road up and down the country – so why not make Beaulieu your destination.

Blue Light Card holders (for members of the emergency services, NHS and Armed Forces) can claim a 30% discount on their on-the-day ticket to Beaulieu both for the event and visits throughout 2020. Just show your card on the day of the event to apply for the discount.

Blue Light Day will run from 10am – 4pm and tickets are available in advance online, as well as on the day. Tickets include entry to the whole of the Beaulieu attraction, including the National Motor Museum, World of Top Gear, On Screen Cars, the Secret Army exhibition, Montagu ancestral home of Palace House, Beaulieu Abbey and its grounds and gardens. Also open from March 15th is the adventurous new play area Little Beaulieu, for family fun all together.

Christopher Macgowan


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Beaulieu makes one million historic motoring images available.

The Motoring Picture Library at the home of the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu has opened its digital doors to one of the largest motoring picture collections in the world. A new improved website is making access easier to over a million historic motoring images which span from the 1880s to the present day.

MPL has over 120,000 colour images and nearly a million black and white photographs filed and catalogued, with thousands of digital originals. Its subject matter includes cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles, covering the motor industry, motor sport, the social history of motoring and a huge range of motoring and motor sport personalities. It also includes spectacular motoring art in the form of sales brochures, posters and paintings.


Celebrated highlights include the Bill Brunell collection, depicting motorsport and social history from the Twenties and Thirties, and the specialist Formula 1 photography of the Fifties and Sixties by Maxwell Boyd.


Since it was established over 50 years ago by Edward, Lord Montagu, the library has grown to become one of the most comprehensive sources of motoring photographs, supplying pictures globally to enthusiasts as well as for commercial ventures, publishing, broadcast and advertising industries.


Picture Library Manager Jon Day: “The aim of MPL is to offer a fast, efficient and competitive service to every user, whether they be a major publisher or advertising agency, a public service, broadcaster, car club or motoring enthusiast. In every case, we are here to make sure you have the best chance of finding what you are looking for.”


MPL also has nearly a million further motoring images which are still to be digitised, so welcomes calls to source specific images. Picture researchers are welcome to visit in person, by prior appointment.


A fully equipped drive-in studio is also offered in the grounds of the National Motor Museum, which is available to hire for photographic shoots.

A film library was also established in 1979, with an initial aim to collect and conserve film on all aspects of motoring for future generations. The film library includes private collections – including those of Ford, Vauxhall, the Rootes Group, Metropolitan Police, the AA and Dunlop – and now comprises of nearly 40,000 items. It has installed its own broadcast standard telecine facility for transferring film to video in-house, as well as a High Definition Spirit telecine to transfer film to full HD. For details contact


The picture library is just one element of the National Motor Museum Trust’s work to preserve motoring history. The museum’s collection of over 280 vehicles is world-famous, along with its extensive range of motoring artefacts and specialist reference library. For more information about the Motoring Picture Library see THIS NEW WEBSITE LINKor contact Jon Day at or on 01590 614656

Christopher Macgowan


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Geoffrey Atkinson dies.

Geoffrey Atkinson OBE, the former chief executive of automotive industry charity Ben, has died after a short illness.

The 81-year-old passed away at home surrounded by his wife and family. He had been suffering from Alzheimers for a number of years.

After leaving school, he joined the Northern Drama School where one of his first roles was in the York Mystery Plays with Dame Judi Dench. 

He then spent several years treading the boards, in children’s theatre and in weekly rep.  He had a part in the Mousetrap when it was first on the London Stage and then went into TV with parts in Emergency Ward 10 and the Army Game.  

Acting was his first love but he made the decision to hand in his Equity Card when his first wife Ann became pregnant.

Realising he needed to start earning regular money he went to work for Heinz and after a time in production he then went on to become part of the sales team. 

From there Geoffrey moved to the oil industry and worked for Texaco.  So disgusted was he at the treatment of petrol site tenants that he decided to start up a Trade Association – The Petrol Retailers Association – in conjunction with Les Ward.

He made his mark in this sector and organised a mass rally of petrol tankers to drive into London and present a petition to Government. 

So successful was this that along with others his involvement finally saw the introduction of Government legislation to finally outlaw the restrictive trade practices of the major fuel retailers.

The PRA was then absorbed into the Motor Agents Association (now the Retail Motor Industry Federation) and following a year with the organisation he was approached to become the CEO of Ben, where he stayed for the remainder of his career, retiring at the age of 65 having served for 25 years.

He was responsible for starting to provide specialist care for young disabled people from the industry alongside Alzheimer’s care units in two of the four nursing and residential centres.

In conjunction with the then director of Welfare he set up the first industry day care centre at Peugeot in Coventry and the centre continues to thrive.

His leadership proved to be invaluable when the 1990 recession hit and he persuaded each member of staff to take a 5% pay cut, led by himself and also to volunteer to give five hours each week in the centres.

For his work he was awarded an OBE in 2000.

His funeral takes place on February 14 at 12 noon.  For details please contact Tina at In addition to his wife Tina, Geoffrey leaves three children, Kate, Tim and Mike, step daughter Kirsty and nine grandchildren.


By the time I arrived at the Retail Motor Industry Federation where I was Chief Executive from 1995 to 1999 the Petrol Retailers Association was already part of it and Geoffrey was well installed at BEN and was working his magic. I was soon to join the BEN board of trustees and worked with Geoffrey for many years. He was inspirational, highly individualistic and attracted huge loyalty from everyone around him.

Running a charity is no easy task but Geoffrey attracted support from the industry and it was with some pride he was able to say that the automotive industry had its own bespoke charity – not many sectors do – and that it was something we should be proud of and nurture. Also, unlike some charities that struggle to keep going, BEN has gone from strength to strength over the years, changing with the needs of the industry and delivering what is required in today’s world.

Geoffrey had many other interests. He was a very good photographer, an accomplished actor and as with everything he did, a sense of urgency and a can do attitude made things happen.

He was a delight and I value our relationship. Geoffrey would be horrified if I fell into the trap in this short tribute of only saying true but nice things about him. In getting things done he was capable of being acerbic (forthright) and direct (blunt) but anyone who knew him realised this was a means to an end; the end game was always helping people in the automotive industry who needed help.

Christopher Macgowan


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Ferrari – the world’s strongest brand.

Ferrari has been awarded the title of the world’s strongest brand for the second consecutive year by Brand Finance, the leading international independent brand valuation and strategy consultancy. With a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 94.1 out of 100, Ferrari tops the rankings of only 12 brands to be awarded the highest AAA+ rating.

Presented today during the World Economic Forum at Davos, the Brand Finance Global 500 2020 report calculates the value of the Ferrari brand at 9.1 billion USD with year on year growth of 9%, boosted by positive sales and overall brand strength.

Brand Finance determines brand value by estimating the net economic benefit to the brand owner of licensing the trademark on the open market. It measures brand strength on the basis of the efficacy of a brand’s performance on intangible measures compared to its competitors. 

Jason Harris
Direzione – Communication
Ferrari North Europe 275 Leigh Road, Slough, Berks SL1 4HF; UK
T (+44) 1753 878704    F (+44) 1753 878770    M (+44) 7748 333389 

Christopher Macgowan


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