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Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 09:20 GMT
Eye of the designer
Designer Paul Sparrow and a drawing of the Bluebird E3
Designer Paul Sparrow has come up with a classy car
Bluebird designer Paul Sparrow hopes he has come up with the winning formula to turn a paper concept into a record-breaking car.

The Bluebird E3 is a marvellous looking creation, with its sleek lines and classic feel.

Bluebird Technologies unveiled the E3 at Auto Motex in London last autumn and caused quite a stir.

"The whole concept of Bluebird is to be innovative," said Mr Sparrow.

"The look of the vehicle is 100% of it. One of the key issues is the frontal area, which is a lot smaller.

Donald Campbell
The car driven by Donald Campbell inspired Sparrow
"What led the design was what other people had done and the mistakes that were made in trying to apply them to the design."

The 36-year-old has been designing for 12 years and joined Bluebird 18 months ago with the brief of turning his creative vision to serious ends.

"The Bluebird is not like a racing car, with the need for compression into the ground, which loses the energy," he said.

"The air flow goes round the vehicle - as much underneath as above."

Inspiration for the E3 was drawn from one of the car's "ancestors".

"The influence for the design would have to be the 1964 record car which Donald Campbell drove. I saw what had been done before with that and took it on," he explained.

I would be elated to see the record broken in a car that I have designed

Designer Paul Sparrow
"The wheel arches coming out of the body of the '64 car was what artistically grabbed my attention.

"Aerodynamically, the E3 is very good; we are not just putting a big body over the wheels.

"This is not like a normal land speed record car - any weight draws on the energy and makes it less efficient and we have been keen to look at new technology.

"We could not just put any big motor in there and make it go for it.

"It is more about getting the latest materials in there and seeing how that applies to other products we are developing."

This may mean a decision between a carbon fibre or composite body.

"The more time and finances that we get, the more time we have to get it right," Mr Sparrow added.

The Bluebird E3
The Bluebird E3 jumps out of the page
Safety, for instance, is a key issue.

"The drivechain is something special we have been looking at, which transfers power to the wheels and all the time reduces the weight.

"Instead of driving two wheels, we are driving four."

Ironing out the potential problems will come with tests on the car.

Mr Sparrow is hopeful that his radical "shark fin" tail, which goes straight through the car, will take Bluebird on to a new level.

"The fin will also direct the car from underneath - the wind tunnel testing will determine whether it is a good idea or not, but I am optimistic it will work.

"I would be elated to see the record broken in a car that I have designed."

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Launch console
The Bluebird electric car is pushing back the boundaries of automotive technology

Behind the wheel


In focus

See also:

04 Feb 01 | UK
Divers find Bluebird wreck
18 Aug 00 | Wales
Bluebird settles into new home
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