History of Vampire
Vampire was built in the late 1970’s with its sister car Hellbender. Prior to this Scorpion had been constructed to prove the viability of a jet powered dragster as an additional attraction to the ‘traditional’ internal combustion powered vehicles.
Scorpion was extremely large and difficult to operate and due to its engines high power could not sit on the start line with full power. So the next two jet cars were designed as matched racing cars and were fitted with afterburners to give give much better initial acceleration. Vampire was originally painted black.
Both cars were successfully raced and demonstrated across Europe throughout the eighties. Hellbender was eventually involved in a serious accident and was immediately retired. Vampire continued to demonstrate the visceral excitement of a jet powered dragster.
Vampire changed ownership in the 1990’s and was re-painted yellow. During this period it achieved UK Land Speed Record status, an accolade it has retained to this day.
In 2006, during the making of a television programme it was involved in a serious accident which fortunately the driver survived.
The vehicle was then mothballed in a damaged state.
The vehicle was eventually acquired by Roy Phelps whose father had previously owned the Santa Pod Raceway in Rushden, Northamptonshire. Roy was involved with the original build of the vehicle and still retained the original body moulds. Roy and his son spent a considerable amount of time and effort in repairing the damaged chassis and axles.
Work and other commitments meant that further restoration ceased and the vehicle was stored at Roys home for a period of time.
In October 2019 the vehicle was purchased by a group of individuals from the Bromyard, Herefordshire area and work commenced on a full restoration.
Fortunately we knew the original Race Engineer and Driver of the car (Kieran Westerman and Andrew Hurdle) and they were extremely supportive in helping us restore the vehicle over the many 100’s of hours that lay ahead.
We estimate that over 50 people gave their time, support and expertise during the restoration process and we would like to extend our thanks and gratitude to them all.
Restoration of Vampire
When the vehicle first arrived in Bromyard the basic chassis was intact but serviceable items like the suspension, brakes and steering would need attention. The engine and its fuel system also required a detailed, systematic investigation and it quickly became apparent that the fuelling and ignitions systems would need a complex and complicated program of replacement and refurbishment.
The vehicle was relocated to a local workshop (thanks Massie and Tracy) and a strip down programme began.
Eventually we got to the point where new and repaired body panels, courtesy of Roy Phelps, could be fitted to the car and at last it was starting to look like a jet powered dragster again!