- In 1985, this car set a steam-powered land speed record of 145.607 mph.
- When it reached 140 mph, the door blew off and by the end of the run the engine compartment was on fire.
- It has a 1,000 pound boiler that holds 60 gallons of water.
This 1977 turbine-powered Steamin’ Demon was built by Jim Crank, a steam car buff, who purchased the engine from Lear Motors and built the body with help from Fiber Fab and Volkswagen of America. Crank attempted to break the Land Speed Record for steam-powered cars set in 1906 by Stanley Steamer’s “Stanley Rocket” at 127.656 mph. Crank was unable to reach 100 mph and sold the car in 1982 to Barber-Nichols Engineering Company in Colorado.
Barber-Nichols rebuilt the car and tried for the record at El Mirage, California, reaching 111 mph. The company tried again in 1984 at Bonneville Salt Flats reaching 110 mph. Success came on August 19, 1985, when Robert Barber drove the Barber-Nichols Steamin’ Demon at Bonneville to a new record of 145.607 mph. Barber said that when he reached 140 mph, the door jiggled loose and blew off and, at the end of the run, the engine compartment was on fire.
The 250 hp Steamin’ Demon weighs 5,000 pounds, 1,000 pounds of which represents the stainless steel steam boiler. The boiler holds 60 gallons of water. At full acceleration, the steam reaches 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit at a pressure of 900 pounds per square inch. The super heated, high pressure steam then feeds into a 60,000 rpm turbine.