The British have had a serious obsession with holding, keeping and improving upon the land speed records for some time. In a new museum, three of their superfast, not meant for the streets, cars will be on display in a museum (well, two cars and one replica) to honor these feats. The Thrust 2, Thrust SSC and Bloodhound are all to be showcased, giving the world a look at these awesome, power hungry vehicles. The Bloodhound is a replica as this car has not completed its mission as of yet, which is to simply break 1,000 mph in 2016, sounds easy enough right? Anyway, here are some interesting facts courtesy of Green Bay used cars about these three you probably didn’t know.
The Thrust 2 was actually built to have a passenger on board. The car was built by Richard Noble and set a new land speed record at 663 mph in 1983. This car was designed with the single jet engine from Rolls- Royce that was mounted in the center of the car with two cockpits, one on either side. Because of the design, the Thrust 2 was built to offer passengers rides so they could experience the excitement of driving at such high rates of speed, but the operation was halted when the car itself did not due to a brake failure during a test run with a journalist in the passenger seat.
Because the Thrust 2 was designed for passengers, during testing, when no one wanted to be the passenger, the second cockpit would be filled with a variety of ballast types in order to even out the weight of the car. This ballast includes sacks of potatoes, making this car the fastest every potato delivery system, as long as your house was on the other side of the desert.
Chillingly Close to Disaster
The Thrust 2 actually came very close to becoming aerodynamically unstable and flipping over. This car is said to be within 7 mph of reaching the point where it would do just that, but the engineers actually admitted it could have been much closer. The reason, the springs of the car were simply rubber blocks which unfortunately get harder with age. By the time the car was run for its historic record, the car may have been even closer to flipping over than the figure of 7 mph.
Getting to the Point
The Thrust SSC is the successor to the Thrust 2 and is the first land driven vehicle to break the sound barrier, recording 763 mph. Andy Green piloted this car to its amazing feat, but the front of the Thrust SSC was a bit of a troublesome feature for the whole team. The front actually comes to a point that resembles a sharpened pencil and serves as a pitot tube to calculate airspeed for the jet engine. The problem is this piece was constantly getting bent by the team who would end up tripping over it.
A Flair for Design
The Thrust SSC not only was a fast car, it also took on some design elements to make it easier to achieve the awesome record speed. Andy Green explained the interior of a car has much to do with a driver’s ability to perform. A black interior is harder on the eyes while a lighter one is much easier. This is why the Thrust SSC was built with a white interior with some light gray panels, creating a better visual for the driver, which allowed him to focus on setting the record.
Comfort in the Ride
On the inside of the fastest car on land you would probably expect an array of dials and gauges to actually blow your mind. The truth is the Thrust SSC showed a simplicity in the control of the car with an off the shelf steering wheel and only two pedals. With this ease of steering and acceleration, the question is how well does it drive, which Andy Green maintains is very light and slow but works well for what this car is supposed to do, drive fast and straight across the flat and smooth desert floor.
Fire and Brake; or Lack Thereof
The Thrust SSC is an intriguing piece of modern vehicle art to admire. From the front back to beyond the cockpit, the car is smooth, carrying in a gloss finish and elegant style that looks fast. Once to the rear it looks as if this car has been through a war zone. During the record setting run, the flames from the engines went inward toward the bodywork and burnt the two chutes that were meant to stop the car. Thankfully all contingencies were thought out and the Thrust SSC was able to slow down with the distance the desert offered.
Learning on the Fly with the Bloodhound
The Bloodhound project is expected to offer a car that reaches 1,000 mph. That number is enormous, but another part of the uniqueness of this project is the rear outboard wheels of the car that the team is unsure of how they will actually fare when driven. The wheels will meet air that is travelling at 1000mph in one direction along with air traveling at the same speed in the opposite direction. This normally causes vibration on most vehicles, but no vehicle has ever gone this fast and dealt with this much vibration, so the team is learning as they go with this part of the project.
Just as much as we see the march of the automobile technology across the super car world, jet engines have progressed as well. The Thrust SSC needed two Rolls-Royse Spey engines to create 20,000 pounds of thrust on a vehicle that weighed in over 2000 pounds. The new Bloodhound only used one engine, the EJ200 and weighs half as much as the Thrust SSC while producing 20,250 pounds of thrust. This is a huge improvement in the thrust to weight ratio, giving the team confidence this car can reach the target. Not only that, I didn’t even mention the hybrid rocket on top of the car which only adds even more.
Noise Reduced (At Least in the Cockpit)
When you want to break a record such as this you need to keep the person in the cockpit happy. Suring the Thrust SSC run, Andy Green commented there were noises that would annoy him and weren’t needed. The fact is you respond quicker to visual stimulation than audible and with that in mind the Bloodhound will not have any alarms sounding, but some lights where needed.
Now we know a bit more about these three British speed demons and can wait and watch as the Bloodhound project unfolds and becomes a reality. Hopefully this team will be able to achieve the 1,000 mph target they have set for themselves and if they do you know the first question they will be asked is “What’s next?” but until next year, we get to wait and wonder when they will reach the mark and make history once again.