Steam age revisited

Glynne Bowsher, chief design engineer from the Thrust SSC project, still has his eye on the record books.

The aim of the British Steam Car Challenge, which began as a University of Southampton academic project is to design a steam-powered car which will break the existing speed record of 127.66mph. This record was set in 1906 by the Stanley Brothers with a car containing a simple non-condensing engine driving directly on the rear axle.

The initial target is 150mph, but the vehicle’s design should, says Bowsher, enable it to travel at speeds of 200mph or over.

After the record attempt, the vehicle will be taken on a tour of Universities to demonstrate how an academic project can evolve into a world-class engineering project.

The design itself represents a synergy of Victorian steam expertise, racing car construction knowledge and CAD/CAM techniques. The car will be much lighter than older steam vehicles and will not rely on polluting fuels like coal or oil. Instead, it will use petroleum gas or liquefied hydrogen and a compact boiler.