Engineers from Honda R&D in Japan have posted a new FIA land speed record, breaking the record for a Honda-powered automobile last week in Bonneville, Utah. Not only did the Honda engineers post a new FIA world record of 419kph (1 mile), 419.19kph (1km) for a vehicle in its class (Category-A Group-1 Class-4), but the Honda S-Dream posted a speed faster than any Honda-powered car ever including the record established by BAR Honda F1 car at Bonneville in 2006. The S-Dream Streamliner was powered by a 660cc engine based on the three-cylinder powerplant designed for the Honda S660 sportscar.
The project ‘Bonneville Speed Challenge’ was internally announced at Honda R&D in Japan in 2015 and 16 members were chosen from a pool of 100 volunteers, including the project leader Keisuke Tsuta, to build the car that would be known as the Honda S-Dream. The goal of the project was very simple – 'Achieve a world speed record with 660cc engine'. The team carefully re-investigated every part of the S660 engine and renewed many of them including cylinder block, pistons, crankshaft and valves in hopes of coaxing more than three times the power for which it was designed. Additions such as the replacement of the lower block with a steel unit and reinforced connecting rods gave the unit the rigidity it would need to withstand the record run, and the car completed several test runs in Japan before heading to the U.S.
But as can happen when building racing machines, an unforeseen problem popped up once the team made its first test run on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Test driver Hikaru Miyagi returned after his run and told the team that he could not see properly through the narrow canopy. While visibility was not an issue on the test track due to plenty of landmarks and road markings, the former Japan motorcycle champion was having trouble keeping the car pointed in the right direction on the bleach-white expanse of the salt flats. So the team took the car back to Honda Performance Development in Santa Clarita, California where they restyled the canopy and most parts of the upper body just 10 days before the first day of the Bonneville.
The Honda S-Dream made several strong runs at Bonneville Speed Weeks but was unable to reach the record speed that it sought. But soon after the conclusion of Speed Weeks, Honda was officially invited to Mike Cook's shoot out at Bonneville to take another run at the record. The team broke the FIA record mark with a run of 366.57kph on the first day of the shootout, then went quicker on subsequent runs until officially topping out at 419kph (1 mile), 419.19kph (1km). In fact, the team reached 425kph on one of its runs late in the event, but was unable to duplicate the speed on the return run as required to set an official mark.