The Thrust SSC still holds the world land speed record, so there’s that

The Thrust SSC was so unthinkably hardcore that it took a fighter jet pilot to drive it on its record-breaking run. With RAF Wing Commander Andy Green at the helm, the Thrust SSC not only broke the land-speed record, but it also became the first car (well, sort of car) to ever break the sound barrier.

Look Back a Few Years to When the Thrust SSC Broke The Speed of Sound
- image 912056

Up until around the early 1900s, the fastest wheeled means of transportation on Earth were trains. Things started to change, though, as the automobile was evolving and people started getting a kick out of going fast on salt flats.

And it all culminated when the Thrust SSC was clocked in with an average speed of 763.035 mph (1,227.985 kph) over two runs in Nevada's Black Rock Desert. That's Mach 1.020, just a tad above the speed of sound.

People present on location could hear two loud booms, one during each run, as Andy Green battled with the rocket-shaped, jet-powered monster which he later described as "a massive handful, bordering on uncontrollable."

Viewed from the outside, the SSC’s trajectory and composure might look super-smooth, but for Mr. Green, it was a hellish ride.

Look Back a Few Years to When the Thrust SSC Broke The Speed of Sound
- image 912057

That’s partly due to the staggered rear wheels and the two Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan engines that moved the Thrust SSC, the same engines that power the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II supersonic jet fighter with 22,000 pound-force of thrust each.

But, believe it or not, starting the Thrust SSC and getting it in motion was a long list of procedures that kick off with soft acceleration.

Yes, the Thrust SSC might have god-like status, but before it runs like hell, it has to build up speed at a rate similar to your family’s wagon as it pulls away from the start grid. Only after that it is ready (read: safe) to accelerate at 25 mph every second. Let that sink in for a second and once you’re done, check out the video below for more equally mind-blowing details.

Tudor Rus
Assistant Content Manager - Automotive Expert - tudor@topspeed.com
Tudor’s first encounter with cars took place when he was only a child. Back then, his father brought home a Trabant 601 Kombi and a few years later, a Wartburg 353. At that time, he was too young to know how they worked and way too young to drive them, but he could see one thing – each of them had a different ethos and their own unique personality. As time went on, he started seeing that in other cars as well, and his love for the automobile was born.  Read More
About the author

Related Articles

2014 Bloodhound SSC

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: