Starting a car’s engine for the first time after it has been rebuilt is a significant moment, marking the transition of this collection of inanimate components into a working machine.
The National Motor Museum engineers certainly had cause for celebration when the 350hp Sunbeam ‘Blue Bird’ was started up in 2014, after the lengthy rebuild of its 18.32-litre V12 Manitou Arab aviation engine. It was the first time that the car had been heard running by the public in more than 50 years.
This month, a smaller, but just as triumphant, occasion was marked with the starting up of the 1981 Volkswagen Golf GTi engine, following its restoration. Although this hot hatch arrived at the museum as an unfinished project, many hours have been spent by workshop trainee Tim Edgerton reassembling the car. With the last job completed, the replacement of an ailing fuel pump, the engine could finally be started. Although it initially coughed and spluttered, this was traced to fuel starvation due to a split fuel hose, which was easily rectified.
Blue Bird Flies
The workshop engineers were also very busy preparing the 350hp Sunbeam for an historic return to Pendine Sands in South Wales. 90 years previously, Sir Malcolm Campbell had driven the very same car along the beach to set a World Land Speed Record of 150.76mph. With the car readied for a low speed commemorative run, on 21st July, there was time in the days beforehand to demonstrate the car to a crew from ITV Meridian in the grounds of the National Motor Museum. With the cameras pointed at this monster machine, Senior Engineer Ian Stanfield took to the wheel for several laps of the grounds.