The current record, I kid you not, was set in 1906
in a Stanley Steamer.
British supercar that's known as the fastest kettle in the world
By Laura Powell
Last updated at 12:55 PM on 05th April 2009
If you believed the golden age of steam was in the dim and distant past, think again.
This streamlined British supercar that went on a test run at a military airstrip near Chichester last week is about to attempt to smash one of the world's most enduring records, the highest speed for a steam-driven car.
Known as the 'World's Fastest Kettle', the car is being shipped to America where driver Charles Burnett III will make the record attempt across a dried-up lake bed in the Mojave Desert of Southern California in early June.
The steam-car record of 127.659mph was set by American Fred Marriott in 1906 in a machine called the Stanley Steamer.
He tried to break his record a year later but the car hit a rut, flew into the air and shattered when it hit the ground. Marriott was injured and did not make another attempt.
His landmark has remained unchallenged ever since and is the longest-standing officially recognised speed record.
In the early 1900s, steam cars far outsold petrol-driven vehicles because they were faster and more reliable.
But by the time the Stanley Motor Carriage Company ceased operation in 1924, the internal combustion engine had far eclipsed steam technology and the $3,950 Stanley Steamer cost almost eight times as much as the bestselling Ford Model T.
The new car bears little resemblance to the Stanley Steamer. It is made of a mixture of lightweight carbon-fibre composite and aluminium wrapped round a steel chassis and took ten years to develop.
Behind the wheel was Don Wales, the 48-year-old nephew of British speed legend Donald Campbell and grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell, who also broke land and water records.
Wales said: 'The car is so powerful, you can feel the immense force of it. It was just itching to get away.'
However, Charles Burnett III, nephew of Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, who founded the National Motor Museum in the New Forest, will drive the car in the record attempt at Rogers Dry Lake Bed, near Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Burnett is already in the Guinness Book Of World Records after setting an offshore water speed record of 137mph ten years ago....