With the new Rolls-Royce Landspeed Collection of Wraith and Dawn Black Badge, the marque commemorates British engineer, inventor, and racing driver Captain George Eyston, who set three land-speed records using Rolls-Royce engines. In 1935, Eyston traveled to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, where he broke new 24-hour and 48-hour endurance speed records. In 1937, he returned to the Flats and set three world land-speed records with his extraordinary car. Named Thunderbolt, this vehicle had three axles, eight wheels and weighed seven tonnes. It was powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce R supercharged 37-litre, V-12 aero engines, each producing well over 2,000 horsepower.
The Rolls-Royce Landspeed Collection also draws inspiration from the landscape of the Bonneville Salt Flats. Wraith and Dawn Black Badge are presented in a two-tone finish Bonneville Blue. This specially developed color transitions under sunlight from light blue to silver.
Eyston set his records on the International Speedway, a specially compacted section of the Bonneville Salt Flats 10 miles (16km) long and 80 feet (24m) wide. The terrain is level in all directions and shines brilliant white in the sunlight. George Eyston himself, commented, “On the salt bed, which has to be carefully prepared by dragging, we paint one or more black lines along the whole length. These lines act as guides and prevent the driver straying; for errors of a few feet in steering might culminate in disastrous results. You see, you might drive a few feet away from the absolute line, something else might happen and you get a few feet more and, believe me, you will never get back”. Such ingenious idea is recalled in the Landspeed Collection by a subtly perforated dark detail in the upper centre of the steering wheel, which continues through the center-line of the driver’s seat.
The Bonneville Salt Flats are seamed with tiny fissures. Rolls-Royce specialists digitally retraced this texture from the surface itself to reproduce it on the wooden veneer of fascia and console lids. Thunderbolt’s records are depicted on the polished, anodised aluminium surface of the Landspeed Collection’s front tunnel. Dawn Landspeed additionally features the outline of the Silver Island mountains, which dominate the Bonneville horizon, engraved on the upper ‘waterfall’ between the rear seats.
Eyston’s third and final land-speed record of 357.497 mph stood for 341 days. This milestone is engraved into the housing of the dashboard clock alongside the name ‘Bonneville’. The clock’s design is based on the instrument dials from Thunderbolt. It features yellow and black details, and black-tipped hands that are inspired by the arrows painted on the original car’s exterior.
In Wraith Landspeed, the Starlight Headliner recreates the sky as it appeared over the Flats on 16 September 1938, the date on which Eyston and Thunderbolt set their third and final world land-speed record. The constellations are precisely marked using 2,117 individually placed fiber-optic ‘stars’, the largest number of stars in a Rolls-Royce Wraith Starlight Headliner ever featured.
George Eyston honors – the Military Cross (MC), a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur, and the Order of the British Empire (OBE) – are marked in both Wraith and Dawn Landspeed with a subtle detail in the driver’s door.
Production of Landspeed Collection cars is limited to just 25 examples of Dawn and 35 of Wraith, all of which have already been allocated to customers.