ASME-Landmark:Thrust SSC Supersonic Car


Since Count Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat's first victory in 1898, the Land Speed Record (LSR) for cars has been a competition for 4-wheeled vehicles that aim to achieve the highest possible speed over either a measured mile or a measured kilometer. Over the years, the LSR was set by electric cars, then steam-powered vehicles, and then internal combustion engined cars. After World War II, designers began to use jet engines to reach speeds in excess of 400 mph.

Engineers then set a goal of creating supersonic cars. Following his successful bid for the world LSR in 1983, entrepreneur Richard Noble pulled together a team to design and construct Thrust SSC—a supersonic car. This car was ready for initial test runs in 1996 and it finally set the LSR record of 763 mph in 1997. Powered by two Rolls-Royce MK 202 Spey Turbofan engines, which produced over 44,000 lbs (196kN) of thrust, the Thrust SSC Supersonic car was the first land vehicle to officially break the sound barrier.

The Thrust SSC was designed by Ron Ayers, former chief aerodynamicist at British Aerospace, and a team of engineers. The strategic mounting and positioning of the engines, placement of the tires, and management of safety and control of lift force were just some of the team's mechanical and aerodynamic solutions. As of 2016, the Thrust SSC's LSR still stood, and the record-setting vehicle itself is on display at the Coventry Transport Museum. See ASME website for more information