Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Steam-powered car breaks century-old speed record

The land speed record for steam-powered cars has been broken for the first time in more than 100 years, after a British-built car achieved an average speed of 225 kilometres per hour (140 miles per hour) on Tuesday.

Many of the earliest road vehicles were powered by steam, which were easier and safer to start than early gas-powered cars, which had to be cranked by hand. But by the 1920s, the convenience of the internal combustion engine had essentially made steam cars obsolete.

Now, Charles Burnett III has driven them back into the spotlight. He reached speeds of 219 km/hr (136 mph) and 243 km/hr (151 mph) during two drives at California's Edwards Air Force Base on Tuesday.

That smashes the previous official record of 204 km/hr (127 mph) set in 1906 by Fred Marriott of the US in a modified version of the then-popular steam car known as the Stanley Steamer. Officials from motor sport's governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), are expected to ratify the new record shortly.

Source: NewScientist


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