RUMOUR HAS IT...
BRAKES PUT ON BLOODHOUND PROJECT
The Bloodhound SSC land speed project which aimed to set a new 1,000mph (1,610km/h) record in SA is dead.
The long-delayed and cashstrapped project was officially disbanded last Friday after being unable to come up with funding to continue. After being put into bankruptcy protection on October 15, the Britishbased team was hoping to raise about £25m (R450m) to continue development of the jet-powered Bloodhound car and attempt a new land speed record at Hakskeen Pan in the Northern Cape’s Kalahari Desert. However, there was no reprieve and the company’s assets, including the SSC (Super Sonic Car), are being sold off to pay back creditors.
“Despite overwhelming public support, and engagement with a wide range of potential and credible investors, it has not been possible to secure a purchaser for the business and assets,” said joint administrator Andrew Sheridan.
Andy Green, who was to have driven the car in its record attempt, said the car can be bought for about R4.5m and required a team of engineers and millions of dollars to get it running.
Green, a retired British Royal Air Force pilot, holds the existing land speed record achieved 1,228km/h in the jet-powered Thrust SSC in October 1997 at the Black Rock Desert in the US.
The British project has so far been funded by sponsors including Geely, Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls-Royce, Rolex and the British military, which provided a Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine for the car.
A “low speed” public test of Bloodhound SSC in the UK last year saw the 13.5m-long, pencil-shaped car hit 338km/h. he The team, headed by former land speed record holder Richard Noble, who was also behind the Thrust SSC record in 1997, planned to attempt a record run in SA in late 2019.
The Hakskeen Pan track in the Northern Cape was cleared of more than 16,000 tons of rock and stone to smooth the surface. The track is 19km long and 500m wide, making for a total surface area of 22-million square metres the largest area of land ever cleared by hand for a motorsport event.
SPEED LIMITERS COMING TO CARS
The world of Big Brother could hit car enthusiasts hard with the European Commission pushing for black boxes and active speed limiters to be fitted to all new cars.
The proposals for the systems, which will monitor speed and safety systems as well as mandating speed limiting that changes automatically with speed limits, have been sent from the European Commission to the European Parliament for debate. The data-logging black boxes would collect and retain information “such as the car’s speed or the state of activation of the car’s safety systems before, during and after a collision,” the proposal read.
The proposal’s EC sponsors insist it will save 25,000 European lives over the next 16 years.
The proposal is already set to be opposed by the German government’s representatives, intent on protecting both an industry with high-power automotive outfits and its highspeed autobahns.
If the parliament agrees, it could mean the slow death of high-performance cars from Europe, with the mandatory installation by manufacturers of active speed-limiting systems, which automatically adapt to each speed-limit change.
The systems would not be able to be deactivated from inside the car, nor be able to be tampered with from outside it. Such systems are already available from premium German car makers, in particular, but are optional for drivers to use, changing speed up and down as speed-limit signs approach.
“Speed limiting technology was last year specified on about two-thirds of Ford vehicles (in Europe) for which it was available proving popular with drivers who want to ensure they avoid incurring speeding fines,” Ford of Europe’s Stefan Kappes said.
For safety reasons, drivers would still be able to exceed the speed limit by accelerating past the limiter, though the action would be recorded by the black box each time.
If the proposals pass the European Parliament, the Council will negotiate with member states to reach agreement early next year, and then all new cars will have to adopt the changes to meet type approval or they won’t be able to be sold in the EU.
MCLAREN 720S GOES TOPLESS
Just weeks after showing the new McLaren Speedtail and introducing a new track pack for the 720S Coupe, the British manufacturer has unveiled the all-new 720S Spider.
Billed as its most accomplished convertible supercar yet, like all McLaren cars the new Spider is underpinned by the strength and rigidity of carbon fibre and in spite of the removal of the fixed roof, the company claims there is no need for additional strengthening.
Rollover protection for occupants in the Retractable Hard Top (RHT) supercar is afforded by fixed carbon fibre structural supports integrated into the rear of the Monocage II-S. The new 720S Spider weighs 1,332kg 49kg, or less than 4%, heavier than the 720S Coupé. Luggage space is 58l with the roof raised.
The same exceptional 4.0l twin-turbo V8 engine that powers the 720S Spider is unchanged from the Coupé. It produces 530kW, or aptly 720 Metric Horse Power and 770Nm. Linked to a sevenspeed transmission, claimed acceleration from 0-100km/h is 2.9 seconds, 0-200km/h in 7.9 seconds and standing quarter mile in 10.4 seconds all these figures said to be 0.1 seconds off the pace of the Coupé. Additionally, McLaren says the 720S Spider will gallop to a Coupé-matching top speed of 341km/h with the roof raised and, if you dare, with the roof lowered, maximum speed attainable is 325km/h.
The RHT can be lowered or raised in 11 seconds, with the option to specify a carbon fibre-framed, electrochromic glass roof option to allow more light into the cabin.
We are unable to confirm local prices but we can tell you the first batch of 720S Spiders arrive here in March 2019.
The Bloodhound was to have attempted a new land speed record of 1,000mph at SA’s Hakskeen Pan.
The McLaren 720S Spider has a retractable hard top so that hair can be ruffled at 325km/h.