There are lots of special-edition Rolls-Royces with interesting details and backstories. Heck, there’s one with the entire Arabian peninsula on its hood. Or how about another that includes a cryptographic mystery concealed in glyphs hidden around the car? The special models Rolls-Royce recently pulled the wraps off of, however, are a little more traditional. These models are none the weaker for it, either, as the Landspeed Collection celebrates the remarkable career of the Thunderbolt land speed racer, which was powered by twin Rolls-Royce aero engines.
Available on the Dawn and Wraith in Black Badge form, the limited run (25 of the former and 35 of the latter) is chock full of cues that celebrate both the Thunderbolt and the famous Bonneville Salt Flats. The pattern of fissures that forms on the lakebed is engraved in a panel in front of the front-seat passenger, for example. Given the brand’s penchant for night-sky-themed headliners, you won’t be surprised to find out the headliner perfectly replicates the night sky on the evening the Thunderbolt set its ultimate speed run of just under 357.5 mph (357.497 mph for sticklers). There are a plethora of other nods—you might call them Easter eggs if it were a less rarified vehicle—to the Thunderbolt, as well as to the speed machine’s designer and driver, Captain George Eyston, throughout the Landspeed Collection cars’ cabins. This includes a driver’s door detail that is an homage to the awards and honors he received after his runs.
For anyone enthusiastic about Rolls-Royce’s aviation heritage, the Thunderbolt tie-in is pure catnip. Slightly more obscure than other pre-war racers, the Thunderbolt featured two supercharged V-12 aero engines of 37.0 liters each, good for roughly 4,000 hp combined. As if that weren’t fascinating enough, the Thunderbolt’s big engines weren’t designed for military use, but rather for air racing—even setting a world airspeed record in the Supermarine S.6B. Few of these engines were built, and one of the engines in the Thunderbolt was reportedly also used in the aforementioned record-setting S.6B.
While the Dawn and Wraith are well-positioned to honor this historic land-speed racer, both models aren’t particularly well-suited to set any records on the Bonneville Salt Flats. If you’re itching to take yours to Bonneville anyway, then may we suggest looking into some chassis undercoating?
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