1927 Land Speed Record Setter: Sunbeam 1000

Henry Seagrave is something of a legendary post-WWI figure in the world of land speed records. When Henry returned from the Great War, he set out to crush records on both land and sea. His first achievement came in March 1926, behind the wheel of a four-liter Sunbeam nicknamed Ladybird. Top speed: 152.33 mph. That record only held for about a month before it fell the following April to Parry Thomas, who managed 172.33 mph. Determined to win back the title, Seagrave lobbied the Sunbeam company to produce a car capable of 200 mph.


The car that Sunbeam produced was a twin-engined machine capable of a total output of 1000 hp at 2000 rpm. The Sunbeam 1000, as it was known, had two engines driving a central gearbox, with an output shaft located to the rear. The finished car was shipped to Daytona Beach, where on March 29, 1927, in front of a crowd of over 15,000 spectators, Seagrave took his shot at the record over a nine-mile course. His brakes melted and he was unable to stop at the end of the course, so in order to slow down, had to drive—dramatically—into some nearby shallow water. All was well in the end, though, as he had set a new record, at 203.79mph, the first person to travel faster than 200 mph on land. [Daytona Beach Land Speed History]