Emsworth, Hampshire, England – A car powered entirely by steam has successfully carried out two test runs in England, in preparation for a bid to break the century-old world land speed record for steam-powered vehicles.
The British Steam Car reached speeds of over 80 m.p.h. (128.7 km/h) on tarmac at a Ministry of Defence facility in Hampshire. A parachute was used to help bring it to a stop.
“It was absolutely fantastic and put paid to all the frustrations of the last few months,” said test driver Don Wales. “I enjoyed every moment of it as I went along. The car is just so powerful, you can get to feel the immense force and power of it. It was just itching to get away at the top.
“We reached nearly 60 m.p.h. (96.5 km/h) on the first test before I applied the parachute. All systems worked perfectly, it was a really good test. The second test run went even better and we clocked a speed in excess of 80 m.p.h.”
The team hopes to break a 103-year-old record of 127 m.p.h. (204.3 km/h) set by American Fred Marriott, who drove a Stanley Steamer in 1906 at the Daytona Beach Race Course in Florida. It is the longest officially-recognized land speed record. The British team hopes to reach a target velocity of 170 m.p.h. (273.5 km/h) to break it.
The three-ton British Steam Car is made from carbon-fibre composite and aluminum, wrapped around a steel space frame chassis, and is fitted with 12 boilers and nearly two miles (3.2 km) of tubing. Up to 50 litres of water are pumped in per minute, and steam superheated to 400 degrees Celsius is injected into the turbine at more than twice the speed of sound, according to a team spokesman.
Earlier this month, a test launch had to be aborted because of technical difficulties involving impurities feeding into the water system. The successful test runs mark the final time the car will be tested publicly before it is shipped next month to the U.S. for the record attempt.