George Eyston collection

Scope and Content

Collection of the personal papers of the racing driver George Eyston, including information about the cars he raced, and technical issues of the day in which he was interested and involved.

The collection consists of six series: [1] Record breaking materials; [2] Personal papers; [3] Photographic material; [4] Newspaper clippings; [5] Blueprints; [6] Miscellaneous publications.

Administrative / Biographical History

George Eyston was born on 28th June 1897, in Bampton, Oxfordshire. He began his racing career in 1923 driving Aston Martins. During his career he raced several different cars, including Bugatti, Alfa Romeo, Riley, Maserati and Sunbeam. His wins included the Boulogne Grand Prix in August 1926, driving a Bugatti T39, and the La Baule Grand Prix in August 1927, driving a Bugatti 35B.

After serving in the army in World War I, gaining a Military Cross, George Eyston went up to Cambridge to read Engineering. He then decided on a career in motor racing and record breaking, starting in Aston Martin and Bugatti cars. He won a British Empire Trophy race with an MG Magnette, and at Boulogne in his Bugatti, plus several races at Brooklands. Records were broken at Brooklands, Montlhéry, Pendine Sands and Utah, and cars as diverse as Singer, Riley Sunbeam, Hotchkiss and Chrysler were used. He drove an MG to become the first person to cover 100 miles in an hour in a 750cc car. His best-known achievement was to take the Land Speed Record in 1938 at 375.5 mph in his 73-litre Thunderbolt, powered by Rolls-Royce engines. He was awarded the OBE in 1948.

Having given up active record breaking, he masterminded record bids for MG at Utah until 1959 and worked with drivers such as Stirling Moss and Phil Hill. His last drive was in 1954 when he averaged nearly 121 mph in the non-supercharged 1.5 litre MG EX179 at the age of 57. He was responsible for the engineering of that and other of his record breaking cars and was a pioneer of diesel engine record vehicles, first with a Chrysler based car fitted with an AEC bus engine and then his Flying Spray (which was essentially identical to his Rolls-Royce kestrel powered Speed of the Wind but with a newly fitted diesel engine). He was also a qualified pilot, a Olympic standard yachtsman and a hydroplane racer.

Universally recognised as a gentleman and sportsman, he died in 1979 at the age of 82.

Access Information

Open to researchers, by appointment. For further information, please see:

Conditions Governing Use

Please apply to the Archivist if you would like to make any copy of the material.

Related Material

Record Breakers collection, also held in the Motoring Archives. Includes material relating to George Eyston: [1] Menu from dinner in honour of Eyston; [2] Photograph of the MG EX179 and team at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah; [3] Letter to George Eyston from J. H. Turner; [4] Correspondence between C. W. Morton (Rolls-Royce) and George Eyston; [5] Document outlining Thunderbolt specifications; [6] Document outlining specifications of the Rolls-Royce R Type Engine; [7] Certificate from the American Automobile Association Contest Board confirming Eyston's 1937 World Land Speed Record at Bonneville.