When I was back in the U.K. in May, I called in on an old friend of mine, Colin Walker, who lives in the Derbyshire village of Tideswell. Having been an Oil and Gas exploration engineer for over 40 years, Colin started on a bold project about 4 years ago now with the aim of getting a very old car to exceed the 200 mph mark. He purchased a 1953 MGA and along with his motor engineer cousin, began the long, painful and, by all accounts, very expensive process of re-building this vehicle with the eventual aim of taking it to the Salt Flats in Bonneville, Utah. The car was completely stripped down and a 5 litre Ford engine purchased to create the power source needed.
Problem number one, it wouldn’t fit into the MG’s engine cavity. So with the help of Milner Conversions of Darley Dale (who did a lot of the engine design work on the Range Rover Evoque), the air intake pipe was removed and with specialist welding equipment was re-welded back on, 180 degrees in the opposite direction. The front and rear suspension and axels were replaced with Jaguar racing parts and an on board fire extinguisher system installed which floods the entire car with foam at the touch of a button.
Huge lead weights had to be placed above the rear suspension in order to keep the car on the ground and a specialised windscreen canopy, some 1 cm thick, was developed to protect the driver and to reduce wind buffeting.
The big test came back in March on an old airfield site near Manchester when the car reached over 165 mph and the on-board parachute system slowed the vehicle down as hoped for.
Tests showed that the engine was throwing out a massive 546 BHP, not bad for a 60 year old car. ,BR. So in June 2014 the car was shipped across to Utah in readiness for the speed trails which begin on August 8th. Assuming all is successful it’ll break that magical 200 mph barrier and go down in the records books.
Once all the speed trials are finished, the car will have to be stripped down completely and every individual part given several treatments of anti saline solution, such is the corrosive nature of the Bonneville salt. Apparently, once the car returns to the UK its “Street Cred” will be dramatically increased as a result of its’ Bonneville escapades.
Watch this space for how she performed and take a look at some of the restoration photos.
Update 12 August 2014 – Following torrential rain on the salt flats the entire event was cancelled due to the waterlogged surface. A huge disappointment for all concerened. – See final photo of the scene. – The team are returning in September for another attempt.