Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Construction of 1,000 mph car begins

  • Bloodhound SuperSonic Car will try to break the world land speed record in late 2012
  • Supersonic car will house three engines which will create 133,000 bhp
  • Car takes 15 seconds to reach 100 mph but goes from 100-1,000 mph in just 25 seconds
  • British Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green will drive the Bloodhound SSC

London (CNN) -- Building work on a car designed to break the 1,000 mph (1609 kph) barrier has started.

The manufacturing of the Bloodhound SSC is a major milestone for the UK-based team behind it and formally marks the end of a painstaking design process led by chief engineer, Mark Chapman.

"The biggest challenge is keeping the car on the ground," Chapman said.

"We spent two-and-a-half years building up concepts and pretty much eight months ago we cracked the aerodynamic shape that is completely stable up to 1.3 mach (858 mph) and creates no lift."

It was "a real light bulb moment," Chapman says, and paved the way for detailed plans to be drawn up for the car's frame and interior.

You could be sat in Wembley Stadium and the car would come in one end and out the other while you blinked
--Mark Chapman, chief engineer, Bloodhound SSC

The chassis consists of a carbon fiber composite front end, made by UK-based Advanced Composites Group, while the back half of the car has a steel lattice frame covered with an aluminum shell.

The Bloodhound SSC's slender frame -- nearly 13 meters long (41 feet), 1.5 meters wide and two meters tall -- will house three separate engines.

At the center of the car sits an 800 bhp Formula One engine built by UK-based engineering firm, Cosworth.

The engine will not only help power the car, it will also double up as an auxiliary power unit (APU) to fire up the other two engines -- a Eurojet EJ200 and a high-test peroxide-powered rocket.

Combined, the Bloodhound SSC will generate a mind-boggling 133,000 bhp -- the equivalent of over 1,200 family saloons or 160 Formula One cars, according to Chapman.

Unsurprisingly, the 6.4 ton car isn't the quickest out of the blocks and would be outpaced by a Bugatti Veyron -- the world's fastest road car -- in a drag race from 0-100 mph -- taking 15 seconds compared to the Veyron's seven.

But it's no contest after that, Chapman says, as the Bloodhound SSC goes from 100-1,000 mph in 25 seconds.

And at that speed, it really is a case of blink and you'll miss it, Chapman says.

"You could be sat in Wembley Stadium and the car would come in one end and out the other while you blinked," he said.

Wing Commander Andy Green will be driving the Bloodhound when the record attempt is made in late 2012 or early 2013.

Green is a hugely experienced British Royal Air Force pilot and was at the helm of Thrust SSC when it set the current land speed record of 763 mph (1228 kph) at Black Rock Desert, Nevada in 1997.

But 1,000 mph is a giant leap forward for everyone involved on the project.

"Thrust SSC was designed to do 850 mph and it managed 763 mph. We can predict pretty closely what will happen up to 800 mph but beyond that we don't know exactly what will happen," Chapman said.

"The biggest unknown is how the wheels damage or don't damage the surface of the desert because the only way to test it is to actually do it."

Chapman and team have spent two years scouting for a suitable location to carry out the record attempt -- traditional places where land speed records are broken simply aren't big or flat enough, he says.

They finally settled on the Hakskeen Pan Desert in South Africa which Chapman thinks should allow them the 10 miles of flat surface they need to complete a record attempt.

Building is expected to be completed within a year with the first runway tests getting underway in the spring of 2012.


Most popular Tech stories right now