From the TG ar­chive

EV­ERY JOUR­NEY BE­GINS WITH A SIN­GLE STEP. EVEN 1,000MPH CARS COME FROM SHEDS...

Top Gear (UK) - - NEWS - WORDS: DAN READ IM­AGE: R. NOBLE

Richard Noble

Thrust 1

Glouces­ter­shire

1977 n 1952, English­man John Cobb passed 200mph in his speed­boat on Loch Ness. Shortly af­ter­wards, at around 210mph, his front plane crashed and it was all over.

Be­fore­hand, a fve-year-old Richard Noble had seen the boat moored be­side a pier on the loch. Just see­ing it bob­bing on the wa­ter was enough to give him the speed bug, and ex­plains why, 24 years later, he sold his Tri­umph TR6 and bought a Roll­sRoyce jet en­gine. At the same time, he found an old truck chas­sis and put the two to­gether in a London lock-up us­ing Black & Decker tools.

He called his cre­ation Thrust 1 and, in 1977, after a few slow­ish shake­downs, took it to RAF Fair­ford for a proper air­ing. It was a rather crude con­trap­tion, and Noble had lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence of rac­ing – or en­gi­neer­ing, for that mat­ter. With the en­gine shriek­ing be­hind him, he held the car on the brakes while it shud­dered and strained, be­fore re­leas­ing it down the run­way.

For a short time ev­ery­thing went well. But at 140mph a wheel bear­ing seized, and his at­tempt was cut short. The car fipped over, rolled three times in the air and landed on its side. The jet pipe broke loose, and the rest of the car was thor­oughly crum­pled. Noble was shaken but OK (he’d even man­aged to shut of the en­gine while up­side down in the air).

So he climbed out and went to the pub. He later sold the wreck­age to a scrap dealer and put the £175 to­wards another jet en­gine. He also met an en­gi­neer by the name of John Ack­royd, and the two men be­gan work on Thrust 1’s suc­ces­sor. Six hard years later, this time at the Black Rock Desert in Ne­vada, Noble in­stalled him­self in Thrust 2.

The rest is his­tory. With an av­er­age speed of 633mph, Noble be­came the fastest man on Earth. He went on to build Thrust SSC, which Andy Green pi­loted to 763mph in 1997. And to­day he’s the man be­hind Blood­hound SSC, which Green will at­tempt to drive at 1,000mph in South Africa in 2016. All thanks to a Tri­umph TR6 and a few power drills…

IJumps vast truck over mov­ing For­mula One car Car parks il­le­gally on tram­line. By­standers pick it up and move it Pays to resur­face train­ing ground track after play­ers ruin their al­loys Drives Stang up Golden Gate Bridge foot­path. Gets wedged Crashes McLaren P1 a day after buy­ing it. Blame the boost

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