THE ENGINE

Rolls-Royce Viper turbojet

The Rolls-Royce Viper was a joint postwar effort to produce a simple and relatively inexpensive turbojet engine between the UK and Australian Ministries of Defence, and was built initially in the UK by Bristol Siddeley Engines.

Design work started in 1948 and the first units, developing around 1640 lbt, were used to power the Australian ATA Jindivik drone. By 1964 the 500 series had been introduced, around an eight-stage compressor and single-shaft turbine. The original 520 produced 3000 lbt and was superseded by the 3100 lbt 522, and then the 3400 lbt 535. 500 series engines were used in the Jindivik Mk5 drone, the Hunting (BAe) Jet Provost Mk4 and Mk5 trainers, their military sister the BAC Strikemaster, the Aermacchi MB326G/GB and the Hawker Siddeley HS-125 private jet.

Our ‘arsenal’ of engines includes the 520 with which STAY GOLD was initially equipped, reheated to around 3400 lbt. Subsequently, Kieran Westman’s revised afterburner raised that to a measured 3800 lbt. Another 520, a 522 and a 601, all unserviceable but useful for spares, also came with the car.

Subsequently we acquired two more 601s, one intended as our new race engine after the original 520 proved to have a defective rear bearing, the other for spares. The ‘new’ 601, however, proved completely unserviceable thanks to a front bearing problems and copious fuel leaks.

Finally, we acquired an ex-Saudi Air Force 535 – 535102 – from drag racing hero Martin Hill in 2013, which is the engine we will use for the record attempt. With a further revised reheat courtesy of Kieran Westman, using some nice Jaguar burner rings, we hope to see around 4000 lbt. We figure that should give us a good enough kick.

Engine Length Diameter Weight Thrust lbt (reheat)
520 85 in/2157 mm 24.55 in/624 mm 745 lb/338 kg 3400
522 85 in/2157 mm 24.55 in/624 mm 745 lb/338 kg 3500
535 85 in/2157 mm 24.55 in/624 mm 745 lb/338 kg 4000
601 71 in/1806 mm 24.55 in/624 mm 790 lb/358 kg 4400