What a job to retire on – my Dad finally hung up his brushes after finishing some work on this, the Bluebird K7, photographed in their workshop in Newcastle. Bill, who runs the show, wanted a traditional signwriter to add some words to the boat, but had already had a stab at it himself, so my Dads final paint was a copy of a (fairly good) amateurish piece of work done on the other sponson, so they matched. This seemed kind of funny, but sums up the go-ahead nature of Bill and the team who have put an incredible amount of effort into getting the wreck of a boat back into useable shape.

Dad is far too modest to make a fuss of this but I can watch him at work all day. Marl stick in one hand for balance, brush in the other, it’s so peaceful to watch the words glide from brush to surface. The marl stick gives him a 3rd arm to lean on, the name coming from the German word to paint. Dad traced the original lettering, rubbed chalk onto the back, taped it into place, drew the outlines in pencil, then painted over the faint chalk outlines. A very, very simple job for him but to be working on such an iconic piece of machinery was a great way to sign off. I took the liberty of chatting with Bill, who owns a Metro 6R4, is building a 205 T16, and can talk for England on most engineering subjects. I was lucky enough to be allowed a peek in the cockpit, the whole boat seemed like a very primative thing, raw and rough, and it’s hard not to imagine the hell of being trapped inside when it crashed. Bill has gone to great lengths to replicate dinks, dents, nuts and bolts, and all those details that make this boat so special in the eyes of so many. This thing did well over 300mph, on water. Incredible.


The workshop door was open, and a constant stream of well-wishers shouted hello or asked about the project, it’s a miracle that anything gets done. The workshop is a treasure trove of cool stuff. As a lad I would visit Dad at work and explore workshops like these, it’s probably what started my love of cars and machinery, even if Dad is firmly a Mondeo man and only interested in getting his steps and planks on the roof – he used to climb up all sorts of places to paint his work.

There were tools donated to the project by original engineers who had worked with Campbell, bits that Bill had pulled from beneath the waves from around the world, pictures of old friends and colleagues and everywhere, little snippets of Bluebird history. Bill asked Dad to add the name Johnny Bute as a memorial to a man who had given great assistance to the project. You’ll know the name also as John Dumfries, adventurer and racer.

Dad has now 100% retired. I wish I had his skills. Good luck to the Bluebird K7 project and thanks for your time and kindness.


About The Author

Rich Duisberg

Rich Duisberg* has had work published in Classic & Sportscar, Practical Performance Car, Modern Mini, Banzai, MogMag, Evo, GT Porsche, Complete Kit Car, Absolute Lotus, Alternative Cars, Classic Retro Modern, and elsewhere. Rich often appears on CBS’s XCAR and Carfection channels, and Motors TV, plus JayEmm on Cars, enthusing about historic motoring. His latest book (find his work on Amazon) was described by SniffPetrol as "hilarious", although he was also threatened with legal action by elderly DJ Tim Westwood. In his Midlands man cave is a 1972 Fiat 500, a Lotus Elise, a BMW barge and a vintage Royal Enfield pushbike. Previous machines of interest include an Mk1 MX5 (owned for 14 years!), an Alfa GTV6, a Porsche 968 and a Sinclair C5. The Metro (right) was bought for an experiment, and abandoned in Africa. "I am not getting in a car with him" -  said Le Mans winner, Derek Bell. *A nom-de-plume inspired by the BBC's League of Gentlemen.

2 Responses

  1. Pete Cochrane

    Great article about your dad. K7 and the BBP team are iconic and a perfect match. I can’t imagine a better team to look after K7.

  2. Lucy

    What a joy to see Dad painting something so amazing. So proud of him and wishing those involved in the restoration lots of luck


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.