IT’S USUALLY kept for the military but the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California has witnessed a remarkable speed record set by an SUV. Short for Sport (or Suburban) Utility Vehicle, a modified Land Cruiser made by Toyota reached a speed of 230mph (370kph).
As the custom built vehicle rocketed along the 2.5 mile long runway, it easily beat the existing record of 211mph (340kph). On top of the usual 381hp, 5.7L V8 engine two turbochargers were added to make it a powerful 2,000 horsepower – some five times the original engine size. Apart from a series of other engine modifications, wider tyres and a reduced suspension combined to boost its top and record-breaking speed.
Former NASCAR driver Carl Edwards needed just two attempts to break the SUV land speed record; he had to slow down on the first attempt because he’d run out of track. After his record drive, Edwards said: “At 225 mph, the thing was wandering a little bit. All I could think was that Craig said, ‘No matter what, just keep your foot in it,’ and we got 230 mph. It’s safe to say that this is the fastest SUV on the planet.”
Toyota test driver Craig Stanton explained that the adjustments to the vehicle added extra stability to the SUV as it undertook ‘terrifying’ top speeds and gave the car ‘unbelievable acceleration.’
“I wanted the Land Speed Cruiser to provide the confidence you need, as a driver, to keep pushing even when the world around you becomes a high speed blur,”he said.
Toyota may well have claimed the overall title with this successful record attempt, but it’s Bentley that still holds the record for the fastest unmodified production SUV, having reached 187mph (301kph) in September 2015 on a test track prior to its release.