British farm and construction kit manufacturer JCB has broken the land speed record for a diesel-powered vehicle.
Streaking along an 11 mile course across the vast expanses of Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats on 23rd August, the JCB DieselMax streamliner achieved an average of over 350mph (563kph) through two FIA (Federation International de l’Automobile) measured miles.
Running soon after dawn – when the salt is in peak condition and air temperatures are at their lowest for optimum engine performance – the British-built car topped 365.779mph (588.664kph) on its first run and 335.695mph (540.248kph) on its return, giving the average of 350.092mph (563.418kph).
The DieselMax is equipped with two of JCB’s home-built 444 engines, produced in Derby. Heavily modified and boosted by two dinner plate-sized turbos, each four-cylinder pumps out a whopping 750hp, compared to the more modest 120hp produced by standard versions used in JCB’s diggers and telehandlers.
And that’s precisely the point of this multi-million pound project (estimated to have cost in excess of £20m): JCB only started producing its own diesel engines two years ago. The DieselMax land speed project is one monster publicity exercise to promote awareness of the company’s home-built power plants and boost JCB brand presence on Uncle Sam’s side of the Atlantic.
At the start of its 350mph run the DieselMax is pushed to 40mph by a JCB 8250 Fastrac. Tweaked a little, the tractor has a theoretical top speed of 200mph, but with the aero-dynamics of a garden shed and tyres rated at 65kph, driver Colin Bond keeps to a more sedate 85kph.