Companies from the West Midlands have been called in to help create the first car capable of reaching 1,000mph.
Powered by a rocket bolted to a Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine, the Bloodhound car will mount an assault on the land speed record.
No less than seven firms from the region have been involved in the manufacturing process thus far, from contributing specialist services like 3D scanning, software and balancing to building part of the chassis.
The aerospace arm of Brierley Hill-based Hampson Industries is playing a major role – making more than half of the chassis.
The firm’s global marketing and business development director Mark Abbey said: “This thing is generating 133,000 brake horse power – that is more than 200 Bugatti Veyrons. It is travelling a mile every 3.4 seconds, so it has some likeness to the speed and conditions an aircraft would operate in.
“It will be moving quicker than a Eurofighter at 1,000 ft.”
He added: “We are playing a big part, not only in the manufacture of the car itself but also in the education programme.
“Of the 10.5-metre length of the chassis, we are building 6.5 metres.
Hampson has been charged with creating a steel and alloy structure to hold the EJ200 engine, the hybrid rocket motor, the peroxide tank, the Formula One engine used as a fuel pump, the parachute mechanism and the speed brake.
Mr Abbey said a major consideration is remaining “lift neutral” at 1,000mph – meaning the vehicle will stay on the ground. It is hoped the Bloodhound, which has been in design for three years, will break the land speed record on a dry lake bed in South Africa’s Northern Cape province next year.
The project also aims to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers and about 4,000 schools have registered for an education project run alongside it.
Mr Abbey said: “It is a huge programme and a phenomenal adventure.
“We have held the landspeed record in the UK for many years and there are some challengers. From an engineering perspective it is interesting to us.
“Our end of the car uses a lot of tradititonal skills which are dying out in British industry, so it is an opportunity to use some of the ageing manufacturing workforce alongside younger people.”
Another Midland firm involved with the project is Worcester-based Andrews Precision.
Managing director Martin Wilkins said: “We balanced part of the test rig for the initial tests. It has to be done to a very high level of accuracy because of the speeds involved.
‘‘The higher the speed, a little movement can make a big difference and cause a lot of vibration,” he said. The company, which employs four members of staff, supplies automotive firms and specialises in balancing dynamometers – used for testing the horsepower of cars.
Mr Wilkins added: “They run this thing at incredible speeds so we have had to make sure that it is balanced to a very specific level.”
Warwickshire firm FactoryMaster supplied software to Bloodhound engineers for the project.
Marketing co-ordinator James Todd said: “They need to know exactly what parts they need and at what time, and that is what our software delivers.
“It is quite exciting to be involved with a project like this and one of the main aims is to encourage children to think of engineering as a career.”
FactoryMaster employs 18 people and also supplies the automotive, oil, gas, plastics and fabrications sectors.
Elsewhere in the West Midlands, Coventry firm Faro supplied 3D scanning towards the initiative.