We never suspected the Brits would use boiling water for anything nobler than steeping tea, but it's full steam ahead for the British Steam Car Challenge project that is attempting to break the land-speed record for a steam-powered vehicle that has stood for over 100 years. According to a Telegraph article, a small group of would-be record breakers will head to South Africa's Northern Cape early next year where they will try to achieve 200mph in their steam-powere car, thus shattering the previous record 127.659mph that was set in 1906 by Fred Marriot's Stanley Steamer. A man named Bob Barber actually surpassed that mark in 1985 by clocking a 145.607mph pass, but then his steam-powered car burned to the ground. He was therefore unable to complete a return run, which is required by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) to qualify for a land speed record.

Read on after the jump...

[Source: The Telegraph via Jalopnik]


The British Steam Car Challenge started seven years ago when Lord Montagu of Beaulieu was invited to view a student project at Southampton University. His nephew, Charles Burnett III, was moved enough by the project that he assembled a team of experts including Dr. Glynne Bowsher, designer of the current outright land speed record holder, Thrust SSC. Expectations are high, even if the budget isn't.

Project engineer Frank Swanston: "There is no official British record, so whatever speed we achieve during tests at Bruntingthorpe airfield in Leicestershire early next year will stand. Next, we want to set a world land speed record of 200mph in South Africa, then follow that in August by breaking Barber's American national record during Bonneville Speed Week, at 150mph."

The 320-hp steam turbine car will alternately be driven by Burnett and Annette Getty, general manager of PDS, the builder of the Inspiration's tubular steel chassis. Although she has no experience with lsr cars, she is currently campaigning an Evo in local rallies: "I imagine it is going to be very quick, hot and cramped..., but I don't frighten easily" Although the FIA doesn't acknowledge gender specific records, Annette thinks her efforts should be good enough for the Guinness Book of Records. The team still needs to find a further £250,000 to complete the challenge. For more information about the British Steam Car Challenge, check out www.steamcar.co.uk.