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ThrustSSC

first car to break the sound barrier South East,

Vehicle with large engines on either side in the desert.
Thrust SSC in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada, USA. Courtesy of SSC Programme Ltd.

Developed by Richard Noble (1946- ), and a team of engineers, ThrustSSC set the Land Speed Record on the 15th October 1997. At a speed of 763 mph (1,228 km/h) it also became the first car to officially break the sound barrier. 

ThrustSSC was built by specialist race-car builder G-Force Engineering in Fontwell, Sussex following years of development. There were initially fears that travelling so fast would lift the car into the air. New computer software at Swansea University was used to prove the case but this technology was itself so new that other tests were needed to reassure sponsors. After a lengthy application process the position of ‘Driver of the most powerful car ever built’ was announced as RAF fighter pilot Andy Green (1962- ). 

The attempt was made in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, USA at the same time as an American team, ‘Spirit of America,’ were also trying to break the record. Despite taking an early lead, the Americans eventually had to withdraw after problems with replacement engines. The British team carried on, and despite worsening weather conditions, set a record which still stands today.

Science Museum

Decade
Type
Engineering,
Region
South East
Location
Fontwell, Sussex
Key Individuals
Richard Noble,