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Bloodhound SSC land speed project saved

Published: 17 December 2018

► Bloodhound SSC record-breaker rescue
► Investor buys project from administration
► 1000mph rocket car project to continue 

The troubled Bloodhound SSC land-speed record attempt is to continue after an entrepreneur stepped in to buy the project from administrators. The skids had been put on the 1000mph supersonic car after the team ran out of funds.

Yorkshire entrepreneur Ian Warhurst, who runs Barnsley engineering firm Melett, has bought the project for an 'undisclosed amount', putting the land-speed attempt back on track for next decade.

Administrator Andrew Sheridan, who was tasked with finding a buyer for the Bloodhound project, said: 'Ian has a strong background in managing highly successful businesses in the automotive engineering sector and he will bring considerable expertise to bear in taking the project forward. He will be outlining his plans for the project in detail early in the New Year.'

Bloodhound SSC land speed record car

Bloodhound took the unusual positive step of engaging with schools and educational institutions nationally to get more students interested in engineering. Sheridan said that the Ministry of Defence and Rolls-Royce have both backed the buy-out.

This is important, since the Bloodhound SSC uses a Rolls-Royce designed Eurofighter jet engine designed to propel it past the speed of sound.

What is the current land speed record?

The Bristol-based Bloodhound team are working to surpass today's world record of 763mph. 

Fastest car: the land speed record history

There are still years of testing and development ahead, however; Bloodhound had planned to test on the salt flats of Hakskeen Pan in South Africa in 2019. A special 11-mile high-speed track is being prepared in the Northern Cape for the record attempt.

Why did Bloodhound collapse into administration in autumn 2018?

The organisation appointed Andrew Sheridan and Geoff Rowley, partners at specialist business advisory firm FRP Advisory LLP, as joint administrators on 15 October 2018.

The news followed a successful 200mph straight line test in Cornwall, and came a decade after the project was first revealed in 2007. 

'Whilst not an insignificant amount, the £25 million Bloodhound requires to break the land speed record is a fraction of the cost of, for example, finishing last in a F1 season or running an America's Cup team,' administrator Sheridan said in a statement at the time. 'This is an opportunity for the right investor to leave a lasting legacy. We are already in discussion with a number of potential investors and would encourage any other interested party to contact us without delay.'

They have now found the necessary funds for the project to continue.

Just how fast is the Bloodhound SSC?

The Bloodhound is powered by a Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine from a Eurofighter, a cluster of Nammo hybrid rockets and a 550bhp Jaguar V8. At full chat, it's due to cover a mile in 3.6 seconds.

The 135,000bhp motor drives the 7.5-tonne, four-wheeled missile for just long enough to hit the 1000mph barrier, in theory. As for stopping it? An air brake deploys at 800mph, the parachute at 600mph and conventional friction discs come into play at 'just' 200mph.

The  team behind the Bloodhound SSC land speed record have already completed a 200mph dry-run - in Cornwall! The plan was then for the supersonic jet car to head to South Africa for summer testing. Airbrakes and new winglets (visible in this rendering by Flock and Siemens) would have been added as the speed ramped up.

What's it like to drive? 

The Bloodhound SSC's cabin is cramped and looks more like the cockpit of a Eurofighter jet than a car. Which means it's business as usual for Andy Green, the RAF pilot who will drive it.

Fighter pilot Green, who received an OBE for his earlier records, said: 'I’ve met graduate engineers who are adamant that our previous record was what inspired their career choice as youngsters: that sort of thing makes all the effort worthwhile.'

Out of time?

The Bloodhound project has been off-schedule from the very beginning; in 2009, it aimed for a 800mph run, followed by a 900mph attempt in 2010 and the full 1000mph in 2011. It’s 2018 now, guys. It's hard not to get wrapped up in the goodwill of this project though - proper, pushing-the-boundary innovation to inspire a generation.

All pictures are by Flock and Siemens

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast