Last week I heard about the fall into administration of Bloodhound SSC. I wanted to write something, but didn’t know what, until I found Steve Cropley. Then I got writing.
Reading Steve Cropley of Autocar’s article on how Bloodhound can be saved I found an interesting point, “As Sheridan [the administrator] eloquently puts it, the £25m needed to achieve 1000mph is far less than it takes to run the slowest F1 team on the grid. Described that way, Bloodhound is a bargain.”. And you know what? He’s right, they both are.
Autosport reported Mercedes Formula One team spent £310 million to win the 2017 Formula One World Championship. That’s more than twelve times the amount Bloodhound needs to travel five times the speed that the Mercedes AMG F1 W08 EQ Power+ could.
This is astounding, £25m is a drop in the ocean for most car companies, even low volume upmarket British car companies such as Aston Martin, Rolls Royce and Bentley and for other carmakers such as Jaguar. Why then are they not immediately throwing their hat in?
Its not for lack of funds. It isn’t for lack of time, this £25m is a four year investment; there is no rush.
To pick up on another Cropley point, it’s the cultural environment that Bloodhound finds itself in. Yes, Bloodhound has reached thousands of school students since the idea was born in the mid-2000s and yes the race to 1000mph on the ground is an exciting, Everest-esque challenge, but times have changed.
When the project started in 2008 the most common electric road car on Britain’s streets was the G-Wiz, followed by the occasional Tesla Roadster. Electric cars were coming to the end of their 130 year (the first electric car was sold in 1884) infancy and diesel was having its moment in the sun.
Ten years later the G-Wiz is an antique, Tesla has released 3 new models, almost every single major car company is developing electric models and even the London Black Cab, aside from a petrol generator, is an EV. Bloodhound, with its Eurofighter Typhoon jet engine, three Nammo rockets and a V8 engine fuel pump sits like a gramophone in an Apple Store.
Which is exactly why I think it should be saved. Bloodhound, given the difficulties in breaking the land speed record, could be the last land speed record car in history if it succeeds. It is the end of an era, the last sentence that requires only a few words to complete it.
Also, apart from motoring and motorsport journalists, I don’t think people realise the significance of a car that is currently being manned by a team of less than ten men. After the Mercedes W10 F1 car shuts off in Abu Dhabi in late November, it won’t be last time the world hears or witnesses an F1 car ever again, there will be another one next year.
With Bloodhound, this won’t be the case, it will be end of humanity’s great quest to find the speedometers’ horizon, people will still drive fast over ground but they won’t go as fast.
The Land Speed Record then remains like the body of a great figure waiting to be buried. For the sake of history and all the effort that was put into that story we should pay that £25m and give the body a decent burial.