Thu Feb 06 2014 07:35:20 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

"Rétromobile pays tribute to Thomas Parry and Malcolm Campbell, two great drivers with exceptional careers who shared the same passion, the same desire, the same obsession: going further, faster.

In 1925, Thomas Parry, chief engineer at Leyland Motors, decided to devote his time to land speed records. He built the Babs on a racing car chassis. The monster had a huge engine under its bonnet: it came from a First World War bomber, a 27 litre V 12 Liberty packing 500 - 600 horsepower. In 1926, Parry twice became the fastest man in the world, on 27 April at 272.403 kph and on 28 April at 275.271 kph.

But on 4 February 1927, the record was challenged by Malcolm Campbell who reached 281.381 kph in his Bluebird Napier Campbell. Thomas Parry was the first to congratulate him on the new record and went back to work right away to improve the power of Babs. He took her to pieces and altered the carburettor and cooling system.

On 3 March 1927, on Pendine beach in Wales, the weather was dreadful and the sand was waterlogged. Thomas Parry, weak after a bout of the flu and against the advice of his mechanic who told him to cancel the attempt, got behind the wheel of his big white car. During trials, the speed recorded was encouraging: 270 kph, even if the car had to be retuned each time. Thomas Parry roared down the beach, the enormous 12 cylinder Liberty thundering at full power. As Babs tore along the shore, it went into a very long skid and suddenly took off, went into a huge spin, and fell back on its wheels in flames. Thomas Parry was killed instantly. His family decided to bury the car where the tragedy took place, under the sand on Pendine beach.

At the time, there were several theories about the cause of the accident: a broken transmission chain, or a weakness in the front wheelbase. The cause remains unexplained to this day. 42 years later, Owen Wyn Owen heard the sad story of Thomas Parry. He went to the place where the tragedy happened and, having obtained permission, recovered the long fuselage of "Babs" after a few hours' digging.

The bodywork was partly rusted away, but the chassis was still just as strong and all the mechanical components were intact. Babs was entirely dismantled and all the parts repaired, checked or replicated. After eight long years of hard work, on a fine day in 1977, Babs roared once again across the sands of Pendine."

Specifications of "Babs":

- V12 Liberty aero engine

- 27,000 cc

- 4 carburettors

- 500 - 600 HP at 2,000 rpm

- 1,800 kg

- Chains transmission

- Speed reached on 28th of April 1926 : 275,171kph

- Fatal accident and outting on 3rd of March 1927