The Wind Tunnel Test Model of the Golden Arrow
World Land Speed Record Car, designed by Captain John Samuel Irving and driven by Major Sir Henry Segrave, 1929. The Arrow was also known as the Irving Special.
The Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers [vol. 118, 1930, p.174] record that the Golden Arrow:
was the motor car in which Sir Henry Segrave set up a world speed record on land at Daytona Beach, USA, on 11th March 1929, by covering 1 mile at a speed of 231.6 miles per hour.
Irving was a member of IMechE (click on his membership form below to read his career history), having worked at Sunbeam Motor Company he went on to become Chief Engineer at Humphrey-Sandberg Company during 1927. He had previously designed the 1,000 horsepower Sunbeam. At Humphrey-Sandberg Company he went on to design the Arrow using a relatively small Napier engine. Irving paid particular regard to the cars thermodynamics, thereby giving it an attractive streamlined appearance. An innovation of the Arrow was a telescopic sight so that the driver could aim the car without taking his eyes off the oil-slick ahead.
The glamour of speed is one of the very oldest of human emotions and, like that of music, is truly universal in its appeal.*
Irving used a Napier Lion aero engine of the 900 horse-power Schneider Trophy type (as used by Malcolm Campbell at one stage of Bluebird’s development). This engine, as also used in the Supermarine S.5, ran on a 10-1 compression ratio. British Petroleum supplied a special alcohol fuel, used at the rate of three miles to the gallon.
* Irving, Proceedings of the Institution of Automobile Engineers, 1930 24: 684, members login to read.