On this day in auto history - January 4th

Mon 4th Jan 2021

It was on this day in 1967 that Britain’s land-speed world record holder Donald Campbell was tragically killed when attempting to break his own water speed world record at Coniston Water in the Lake District.

A son of Donald Campbell - a prolific breaker of speed records in the 1920’s and 30’s - Malcolm broke numerous water speed records in the 1950’s but it was his breaking of the land-speed world record in 1964 which catapulted him to worldwide fame.

Driving the gas-turbine-powered vehicle, Bluebird CN7, Campbell set a new record speed of 403 mph on a surface of dried salt lake at Lake Eyre, Australia, before enjoying a presentation in front of a 200,000 strong crowd in Adelaide.

In 1967, Campbell attempted to beat his own water-speed world record one last time in Bluebird K7 but was killed instantly after the boat lost stability, somersaulted, and plunged nose-first into the lake at around 300 mph. Amazingly, his body wasn’t discovered until 2001.

Haunting footage of the tragedy was famously captured on British Pathe newsreels and have been viewed all over the world countless times since.