JCB strives for new diesel land-speed record

JCB will attempt to set a new land-speed diesel record this August at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, using its DieselMax car that contains two JCB444 engines designed to produce 750 horsepower each.

The JCB DieselMax streamliner weighs four times more than a Formula 1 car, but it’s twice as powerful and twice as fast. In fact, the two JCB engines supply five times more horsepower than needed to drive a JCB backhoe loader.

The company says that makes British Royal Air Force Wing Commander Andy Green, who set the first supersonic land-speed record at 763 mph with a jet-propelled car, the right person to attempt to set a new record of at least 300 mph for diesel engines. “I am really looking forward to driving another British entry in the ‘300 mph club,’ and a diesel-engined, wheel-driven one at that,” Green said.

Currently, Virgil Synder holds the diesel-powered land speed record with the Thermo King streamliner, which clocked in at 235.756 mph on August 25, 1973.

Richard Noble, a former land-speed record holder, encouraged JCB to pursue the record and has acted as an advisor. “We began this project with one basic aim,” said Tim Leverton, group engineering director for JCB . “Everything always comes back to that same starting point; we are doing this to prove our engine.”

The JCB DieselMax car is 9 meters long and weighs 15,873 pounds, while the turbocharged engines have separate six-speed transmissions. The car itself looks sleek and futuristic. The body was made to be aerodynamically efficient, as was the undercarriage since the air flowing underneath accounts for half the aerodynamic drag.

“To power the world’s fastest diesel car with two JCB engines designed for our construction machines will be a huge achievement,” Leverton said.

Sir Anthony Bamford, chairman of JCB, is clear about why he wanted to break the diesel land-speed record: “I am passionate about the importance of engineering excellence to Britain, and I see using the JCB engine for this record attempt as a fantastic way of showcasing what British engineers can do.”

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Initial testing of the JCB DieselMax will be held near Peterborough prior to the annual Speedweek in August.