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World Land Speed Record "BABS"

1926: Higham driven by J. G. Parry Thomas


 United Kingdom
 V12 Liberty Aero
 26,907 cc
Bore x Stroke:
 127 x 177 mm
 500 bhp (approx)
Top Speed:

169.30/171.02 mph

Parry Thomas was widely considered at the time as ?The Welsh Wizard of Brooklands?, he taking the world speed record twice in 1926 in his Higham Special, which he called "Babs". Tragically Thomas would be killed during another attempt at Pendine Sands in his native Wales in March 1927.

He had on this car reverted to chain drive to the rear wheels, long discontinued on other machines, and one of the chains snapped at more than 2,000 rpm., tore through the steel guard and Thomas was killed instantly. The wreckage of his car was buried deep in the sands of the beach and left there.

Thomas was chief engineer at Leyland, the commercial vehicle builders, and one of the great Brooklands figures. He was trying to recapture the record from Sir Henry Segrave when he was killed, after both Segrave and Sir Malcolm Campbell had beaten Thomas' old figure.
Thomas had made many changes to Babs in an effort to find a few extra miles an hour. He was a man who drove himself hard, and was suffering from 'flu when the Welsh weather relented enough for him to make
his last tragic attempt.

Thomas' car was really a throwback to the old idea of "the bigger the better" as far as the power unit was concerned. Thomas purchased the car from Count Louis Zborowski the giant Higham Special, which had a V12 Liberty aero-engine of no less than 26,907 cc., with a bore and stroke of 127 x 177 mm.

This outlandish machinee had the aero engine installed in a sorely-tried chassis, transmitting the power through a gearbox from a 200 horse-power Benz and chains to the rear wheels, an anachronism in 1926.

The car had been driven at Brooklands by the Count, who sold it to Thomas as a track racing car. Thomas made certain changes which included a longer tail and a different frontal aspect, and drove it at Brooklands, lapping at 126 mph.
He was supposed to get somewhere in the region of 500 horse-power from the Liberty engine, and even sceptics began to believe this when he put the record up to 169.30 mph at Pendine Sands, which was 17 miles an hour faster than Segrave's existing speed. It was even said that Thomas's engine was miss-firing slightly! On his second attempt he achieved 171.02 mph.
 Article reproduced from
Great site with extensive articles on Land Speed Records

John Godfrey Parry-Thomas breaking the Land Speed Record in April 1926 in his car ‘Babs’.
On Tuesday 27th he raised the record to 168.0 mph for the mile (169.2 for the kilometre) but went out again on the next day to raise the speeds to 170.6 mph for the mile (171.0 for the kilometre). Runs were made with wheel covers (as seen here) and without.
Parry-Thomas made an attempt to improve his own record in March 1927. It was to be a fatal decision; still suffering the effects of 'flu and travelling at full speed the car crashed and Parry-Thomas was killed instantly

MEDIUM: Acrylic on canvas board

ARTIST:James Field

Click image for further information

In Memory of
John Godfrey Parry-Thomas
1884 - 1927 Land Speed Record Holder 1926

John Godfrey Parry-Thomas was my great uncle who died in a tragic accident in 1927. He was the son of a vicar and born in Wrexham in April 1884. The family moved to nearby Oswestry when he was five years old and he was educated at Oswestry School where he is said to have raffled his sixpence-a-week pocket money at a penny a chance to as many takers as he could find..........................................

You can read more about  John Godfrey Parry Thomas via the dedicated website
 please click the following link:  www.parry-thomas.co.uk
or click on the image.