Did a steam-powered car hold the world speed record of 197 mph?

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Offline chris

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Someone asked me recently about "steam-powered" cars and suggested that one had held the world speed record at some time and that it had achieved an incredible speed of around 197 mph.

Does anyone know anything about this?
I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception - Groucho Marx



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Steam cars outnumbered others. In the U.S. in 1902, 485 of 909 new car registrations were steamers. From 1899 Mobile had ten branches and 58 dealers across the U.S. The center of U.S. steamer production was New England, where 38 of the 84 manufacturers were located. They included White (Cleveland), Eclipse (Boston), Cotta (Lanark, IL), Crouch (New Brighton, PA), Hood (Danvers, MA; lasted just one month), Kidder (New Haven, CT), Century (Syracuse, NY), and J. W. Skene Cycle and Automobile Company (Lewiston, ME, which built everything but the tires). By 1903, 43 of them were gone. In 1923, Brooks (Canadian) opened for business, lasting until 1926.

In 1906, the Stanley Steamer gained the world land speed, but at 127.659mph.


That record stood until 1910, and since then no steam powered car has held the land speed record.

Perhaps the best-known and best-selling steam car was the Stanley Steamer, produced from 1896 to 1924. Between 1899 and 1905, Stanley outsold all gasoline-powered cars, and was second only to Columbia Electric in the U.S.[3] It used a compact fire tube boiler to power a simple double-acting two-cylinder engine. Because of the phenomenal torque available at all engine speeds, the steam car's engine was typically geared directly to the rear axle, with no clutch or variable speed transmission required. Until 1914, Stanley steam cars vented their exhaust steam directly to the atmosphere, necessitating frequent refilling of the water tank; after 1914, all Stanleys were fitted with a condenser, which considerably reduced their water consumption.

In 1906 the Land Speed Record was broken by a Stanley steam car, piloted by Fred Marriot, which achieved 127 mph (203 km/h) at Ormond Beach, Florida. This annual week-long "Speed Week" was the forerunner of today's Daytona 500. This record was not exceeded until 1910, and has not been broken by a steam car since.

In 1985, a steam car achieved an unofficial land speed record for steam cars of 145.607mph, but by this time, the speed was well short of the speed achieved by other land speed record holders.


There apparently is an ongoing project attempting to take a steam powered vehicle over 200mph (but it is work ongoing, rather than an achieved target).

« Last Edit: 18/04/2008 11:45:53 by another_someone »