Issue: Apr 2006


JCB Aims for the Title of World's Fastest Diesel



by Rob White

JCB, one of the world's leading construction equipment manufacturers, will attempt to break the diesel land speed record this summer at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. To reach speeds over 300 mph, JCB built the world's most powerful diesel engine at 150 bhp per liter, based on the same 4-cylinder, 4.4 liter (444) diesel engine the company uses in the world's best-selling backhoe loader.

By earning the title of "World's Fastest Diesel," JCB will prove the strength, performance and versatility of the JCB444 diesel engine. The JCB DIESELMAX car is twice as powerful and twice as fast as a Formula 1 car.

JCB will challenge for the FIA Group III, Class 10 supercharged diesel streamliner record, currently held by Virgil W. Snyder, who set the record of 235.756 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats on August 25, 1973.

The DIESELMAX car will be driven by RAF pilot Andy Green, who set the first-ever supersonic world land speed record at 763.035 mph in ThrustSSC in the Black Rock Desert on October 15, 1997.

"It has always been our company tradition that the way to make progress is to push forward with a sense of urgency and to seek new challenges," said Sir Anthony Bamford, Chairman, JCB. "The search for the next innovative step is the cornerstone of our business along with a strong sense of adventure."

At the heart of the world record attempt is the JCB444. Developed and manufactured by JCB specifically to run construction equipment for off-highway use, the engine was introduced after five years of development and a cost of $140 million.

"We began this project with one basic aim," said Dr. Tim Leverton, JCB Group Engineering Director. "Our intention is to prove the quality and performance of the JCB444 engine on the world stage. The knowledge we gain as a result of meeting this extreme engineering challenge will be applied to future iterations of the engine directly benefiting our customers."

JCB DIESELMAX is more than 29 feet long, weighs nearly three tons and is powered by two 750 bhp two-stage turbocharged JCB444 diesel engines driving through separate six-speed transmissions.

Initial vehicle testing will be conducted by Green at the Wittering Royal Air Force station, near Peterborough, England prior to the first salt testing at Bonneville during Speed Week, which runs August 12-18, 2006. The team will make its first attempt to set a new record the following week.

JCB is the fifth largest manufacturer of construction equipment worldwide. JCB began manufacturing operations at its North American headquarters, located outside of Savannah, Ga. in 2000. The 500,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility cost $62 million to build and is part of a $100 million investment by JCB to capture a significant share of the world's largest construction and farm equipment market.

JCB was founded in October 1945 by Joseph Cyril Bamford and remains family-run and privately-owned -- a remarkable feat for a company that recently celebrated its 60-year anniversary and has annual sales that top $2.24 billion. The company that began in a 12 foot by 15 foot garage in Uttoxeter, England now employs more than 6,300 people. The current Chairman is Sir Anthony Bamford, son of founder J.C. Bamford.

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