Webster’s dictionary defines speed as the act or state of moving swiftly. That simple statement has captivated humans for as long as we can remember. Even before the invention of the internal combustion engine, people were racing horses and themselves. There is just something truly seductive about speed.
In the 20th century, and on through today, we have been heading to areas in which we can take our cars to the max. But who wants normal production cars when they can have land-speed machines with jets for engines. That’s the true speed lovers way, take the motor from a plane and strap it to a car.
Over the years we have seen many different land speed machines hit speeds that are incredible and a bit shocking. We think that driving 140 miles per hour is quick, try 600. We can only imagine what the world must look like at those sorts of speeds. Below we have listed the top ten fastest land-speed machines in the world that are powered by either jet engines or motors, no electric or alternative fuel cars are on this list.
Hit the jump to check them out.
10) White Triplex Spirit of Elkdom - 207 MPH
The last machine on our list is the most tragic. The White Triplex Spirit of Elkdom uses three Liberty aero engines and was driven was Ray Keech. On the car’s second run, the driver, Lee Bible, was killed. Part of the reason for this incident was down to Bible’s experience. Keech was offered the chance to drive the car again, but declined, believing the car to be unsafe at high speeds. Bible had no driving experience at high speeds and the car rolled as in went into the sand dunes at Ormond Beach, Florida.
9) Irving-Napier Golden Arrow - 231 MPH
The machine set a record of 231 miles per hour on March 11, 1929 and was made by Henry Seagrave who held the land and water speed records. A 925 horsepower, 23.9-liter Napier Lion W12 aero engine, powered the car and it was cooled by ice, not a radiator. The record was set at Daytona Beach, Florida. The car is now on display at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, Hampshire, England.
8) Campbell-Railton Blue Bird - 301 MPH
A 2,300 horsepower 36.7-liter supercharged Rolls-Royce R V12 engine that helped it hit a speed of 301 miles per hour powered the land-speed car. The machine hit the record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1935 and was driven by Malcolm Campbell. It was the first vehicle to hit 300 miles per hour. The car is on display at the Alabama Motor Speedway Hall of Fame in Talladega, Alabama.
7) Thunderbolt - 345 MPH
The Thunderbolt is a British Land Speed Record holder of the 1930s. It was driven by Captain George Eyston and was powered by twin Rolls-Royce R-Type V12 aero engines. The record of 345 miles per hour stood for 25 years and was set at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. We think that the main reason for the length of time the record stood was down to the outbreak of World War II.
6) Wingfoot Express - 415 MPH
The Wingfoot Express was Walt Arfons and Tom Green’s jet-powered land speed record car that driven by Green. The car was J46 jet powered and it hit a speed of 415 miles per hour in 1965. Nobody is quite sure where the car is, as it’s not on display at any museum.
5) Green Monster - 572 MPH
The Green Monster was a car that was developed by Art Arfons and his half brother Walt Arfons. The car won the land speed record three times during the close competition of 1964 and 1965. F-104 Starfighter jet engine with a four-stage afterburner. The car was eventually beaten by Craig Breedlove.
4) Spirit of America - 600 MPH
Craig Breedlove piloted the Spirit of America on his last attempt on the Bonneville Salt Flats on November 15, 1965. During that run, he hit a speed of 600 miles per hour. The motor was a GE J79 engine originally from an F-4 Phantom. The car is currently on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum, California. The Beach Boys wrote a song about the car called, ‘Spirit of America’.
3) The Blue Flame - 630 MPH
Gary Gabelich, who helped this car hit a record speed of 630 miles per hour on the Bonneville Salt Flats on October 23, 1970, drove the Blue Flame. It was built in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The motor on the car was revolutionary, as it used a combination of hydrogen peroxide and liquefied natural gas that was pressurized by helium. At full power, the motor could produce a full thrust of 22,000 pounds generating 58,000 horsepower.
2) Thrust 2 - 633 MPH
The Thrust 2 is a British designed jet car that once held the land-speed record, before it was overtaken by another British machine, the Thrust SSC. The car was designed by John Ackroyd and driven by Richard Noble. It broke the record on October 4, 1983 at the Black Rock Desert in Nevada USA. The final top speed was 633 mph, after an average of two runs was taken. The car, like the Thrust SSC, is being shown at the Coventry Transport Museum in Coventry, England.
1) Thrust SSC - 763 MPH
The Thrust SSC is a jet-powered rocket car created by Richard Noble, Glynne Bowsher, Ron Ayers, and Jeremy Bliss. It set the record on October 15, 1997 after the car hit a speed of 763 miles per hour. It was the first car to actually break the sound barrier, which sounds like something out of a comic book. The car was driven by Royal Air Force fighter pilot Squadron Leader Andy Green in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, United States. Powering the machine was a Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan used on F-4 Phantoms. If you live in the United Kingdom you can visit the car at the Coventry Transport Museum in Coventry, England.
There you have it, the top ten jet-powered or engine powered land speed cars. This is just the first part of TopSpeed’s speed devoted top tens. We can only wonder how long it will take to beat the speed of the Thrust SSC.