Thunderbolt brooch

Rolls Royce presented this brooch to the wife of Captain George Eyston, after he broke the world land speed record in 1937.

The brooch depicts his car, Thunderbolt, which used two Rolls Royce ‘R’ racing engines. Eyston went on to break the record again twice in 1938. His popularity, as well as the brooch’s subject, reflects the era’s obsession with speed and technology.

Thunderbolt brooch

 

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Thunderbolt brooch

England, 1937
Platinum set with diamonds
Given by Josephine Elwes
V&A: M.115-1993

Captain George Edward Thomas Eyston

 

Captain Eyston was one of the most successful racing drivers of his day. He established an unparalleled number of records, including breaking the land speed record three times. His career began with motorcycle racing, but came to include hydroplanes and aeroplanes. He made his last record in 1954, at the age of 57.

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Captain George Edward Thomas Eyston

1947
British Sporting Personalities card issued by
Will’s Embassy Cigarettes

Private collection

 

Eyston designed the Thunderbolt car himself, and oversaw its construction at the Bean car factory in Tipton. The vehicle had eight wheels and was over 10 metres long. He drove it during his three successful attempts to break the land speed record at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The distinctive tail fin was removed for the final record attempt in 1938.

Thunderbolt being towed during speed attempt

 

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Thunderbolt being towed during speed attempt

Photograph, 1937

National Motor Museum Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, UK