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British steam car aims for landspeed record

Record attempt ready to go

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A British steam car is in the final stages of preparation for an attempt on the land speed record, or at least the steam-powered version of it.

In the early days of motoring, steam cars outpowered their petrol and electric-driven cousins. A Stanley Steamer was the world's fastest vehicle in 1906 with a top speed of 127 miles per hour. It kept the record until November 1909 when it was beaten by 3.5 miles per hour by a 21 litre petrol-driven Mercedes-Benz.

The British Steam Car Challenge is ready to go, except the steam boilers are producing too much power. The car is aiming to produce more than 300 brake horsepower, which will allow it to reach 200 miles per hour.

It uses four boilers powered by liquid petroleum gas. The car is built on a tubular steel frame with carbon composite front panels. In order to stop it uses disc brakes on all four wheels... and a parachute.

Lynne Angel, team leader at the British Steam Car Challenge, told the Reg: "We're waiting for materials for the boiler tubes, once they're delivered we are ready to go. We produced too much steam in testing and damaged the pipes, so we're making a new prototype boiler. The turbines are working fine, it's just the boiler." Angel said the car may now run on just three engines because they have proved more powerful than expected.

The team were originally hoping to make a record attempt during Speed Week in August at Bonneville Salt Flats. They are unlikely to hit this deadline or a second event at Bonneville in September.

The project is running short of funds and interested readers can point their browsers here, where for just £1 your name, or even company name, could be emblazoned on this plucky British record breaker.

The British Steam Car Challenge team includes members of the Thrust SSC project, which successfully claimed the world land speed record of 763.035mph. Last year the UK claimed the world's fastest diesel-powered vehicle with JCB Dieselmax, which runs on two JCB digger engines.

The machine will be driven by Charles Burnett III, an ex-drag car racer, and Annette Getty, MD of one of the sponsoring companies.

More info on the team website here.®

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