Bluebird record-breaking vehicles

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The Blue Bird K3

Blue Bird or Bluebird is the name of various cars and boats used by Sir Malcolm Campbell, his son Donald and other family members to set land and water speed records.

Origins of the name[edit]

The name Blue Bird was originally inspired by the play of that name by Maurice Maeterlinck,[1] and the vehicles were painted a shade of azure blue.

Malcolm Campbell had a succession of Darracq racing cars in the 1920s, which in the fashion of the day he had named 'Flapper I' , 'Flapper II' and 'Flapper III' . It was 'Flapper III' which he renamed after seeing the play, famously and impetuously knocking up a paint shop owner at night, so as to purchase blue paint before racing at Brooklands the following day.[2]

In 1925, he also raced an Itala at Brooklands with the name 'The Blue Bird' painted on the bonnet.[3]

Bluebird or Blue Bird?[edit]

Malcolm Campbell named them "Blue Bird", Donald "Bluebird".

The hydroplane K4 began life as Malcolm's "Blue Bird", but when Donald decided to use her in 1949, after his father's death, he renamed her "Bluebird".[2]


Sir Malcolm Campbell[edit]

Campbell-Railton Blue Bird

Donald Campbell[edit]

Bluebird-Proteus CN7

Donald Wales[edit]

Donald Wales, grandson of Malcolm Campbell and nephew of Donald Campbell, has contested the world electric powered land speed record. He was also the test driver for the British Steam Car Inspiration,[4] which broke the steam-powered land speed record. He was also the driver for Project Runningblade,[5] setting the world land speed record for a lawnmower.


Sir Malcolm Campbell[edit]

Blue Bird K4

Donald Campbell[edit]

Bluebird K7 replica at the Tatton Park Flower Show, 2009

Gina Campbell[edit]

Gina Campbell, daughter of Donald Campbell, has contested the women's world water speed record.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Scott A. G. M. Crawford, "Campbell, Sir Malcolm (1885–1948)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2006 accessed 25 July 2008
  2. ^ a b Tremayne, David (2005). Donald Campbell: The Man Behind the Mask. Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-81511-3.
  3. ^ Leo Villa and Kevin Desmond (1979). Life with the Speed King. London: Marshall Harris & Baldwin. ISBN 0-906116-06-6.
  4. ^ Steam car record tests completed BBC News, 1 April 2009. Retrieved 25 July 2021
  5. ^ Lawn mower man eyes speed record BBC News, 1 December 2009. Retrieved 25 July 2021

External links[edit]