Five Automotive Records That Will Never Be Broken

Irvin Gordon's 1966 Volvo P1800

Some records were meant to be broken. Others, not so much. Think of the world’s fastest airplane, for example, the SR-71 Blackbird, which carved its name into the history books four decades ago and has yet to be dislodged by more modern technology.

There are certain automotive records that also seem destined to endure, their longevity assured by either the laws of physics, the unique set of circumstances that made them possible, or sheer stupidity that seems impossible to equal for a second attempt.

Check out our list of the five automotive records that will never be broken and see if you agree with our analysis.

World Landspeed Record: ThrustSSC

Going fast in a straight line sounds easy – until you try it. It’s then that you encounter the complex web woven by aerodynamics and, more specifically, how to prevent your landspeed record attempt from adding an airborne exclamation mark to your afternoon. Throw in things like the cross-winds and head-winds that frequently plague the wide open spaces where there’s enough room to get up to eyeball-popping speeds, and the need to run once in each direction in order to take the overall average, and, well, it’s complicated.

Enter the Thrust Supersonic Car (SSC), which was a jet-engined bullet built by a British team in the 1990s. With a pair of hulking Rolls-Royce Spey turbofans slung over the side, the SSC delivered over 100,000 horsepower, or more accurately, 50,000 lb-ft of thrust, and consumed fuel at the rate of 18 litres per second. That’s about 5,500 L/100 km in case you’re wondering.

Who do you get to drive your jet car in an attempt to break the sound barrier? Why, none other than a former RCAF fighter pilot, Andy Green. On September 25, 1997, Green blew away the previous landspeed record by over 120 km/h, clocking in at an average of 1,148.055 km/h. A month later, he did it again – and this time, went supersonic in Black Rock, Nevada, with a speed of 1,223.657 km/h.

It’s been over twenty years, and no one has even come close to breaking the sound barrier with a car for a second time. It feels safe to say that Green’s ThrustSSC record will stand the test of time.

World’s Longest Skidmarks: Spirit of America

Spirit of America

You might be wondering: how do you slow down from a landspeed record attempt? In thThrustSSCearlier days of trying to up the straight-line ante, safety was a secondary concern, which lead to all sort of shenanigans out on the Bonneville Salt Flats where most teams made their play. The Spirit of America, driven by Craig Breedlove, was a single-jet missile with wheels and a wing, and while it managed to set the landspeed record several times, perhaps the vehicle’s greatest claim to fame came during a parachute failure in 1965 at 846.961 km/h. The car skidded for eight solid kilometres, leaving marks on the sand as it went, before finally crashing into a set of telephone poles and then splashing down in a pond. The driver, Breedlove, was completely unharmed, and he managed to set two records that day: fastest car, and longest skidmarks. No one thought to check his underpants for a possible third record.

Largest Car Burnout: Summernats Car Festival

Summernats 2015 Burnout Record

Is it any surprise that the record for the most cars performing a burnout at the same time is owned by Australians? They are a people whose love for muscle is both well-documented and well-organized: Canberra’s Summernats Car Festival has set this particular record not just once, but twice! The first achievement came in 2013 with 69 cars participating, while the second obliterated the previous try by convincing 103 gearheads to shred their rear tires for a total of 30 seconds just three years later.

Most Parking Tickets: Jennifer Fitzgerald

Parking Ticket

Word to the wise: never let your ex have the keys to your car. When Jennifer Fitzgerald finally found the Chevrolet Monte Carlo that her jilted lover had surreptitiously dumped in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport parking lot three years later, it had accumulated 678 parking tickets. That’s not a typo: Fitzgerald was shocked to discover that she owed the city over $106,000.

Jennifer lost her driver’s license because of her former boyfriend’s shenanigans, and was unemployed at the time her car was finally located. A local lawyer took her case on for free and filed suit against Chicago and the ex, because as it turned out he had secretly registered the car in her name without anyone’s knowledge. The fines were eventually reduced to less than $5,000, with Brandon Preveau, the instigator of the entire debacle, shouldering roughly a third of the costs.

Most Mileage on a Single Car: Irvin Gordon

Irvin Gordon's 1966 Volvo P1800

Sure, over-the-road truckers put on millions of kilometres as part of doing business, but when was the last time you looked at the odometer in a friend’s car and saw over 3 million miles (4.8 million kilometres) showing on the dial?

Probably never, and not just because odometers are incapable of breaking out of their five or six-digit displays. No one drives that much, and if they do, they certainly don’t do it all in the same vehicle – unless they are Irvin Gordon, a teacher from Long Island who has been plying his 1966 Volvo P1800 almost 100,000 miles a year, every year, since he bought it new.

The first half-million miles only took 10 years to achieve, thanks to a long work commute, and by the end of the ‘80s he was at a million. Every ten years, almost like clockwork, the next half-million Guinness-certified count gets added on, and only minimal maintenance has kept this particular Volvo on the road long past the majority of its kin. Incidentally, Volvo actually gives Gordon a brand new car each time he tops the million mile mark, but it seems like they’re mostly garage ornaments given that the P1800 is still his ride of choice.

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Benjamin Hunting
Benjamin Hunting is a freelance writer who enjoys keeping the shiny side up during track days. He is also an avid musician and a friend to vinyl.
  • Tranquil Tiger

    The First one is wrong, The same crew that built Thrust is working on a new one called Bloodhound SSC that will in theory hit 1,690Km/h. this has been public since like 2013, perhaps a LITTLE research isnt too much to ask when you make a very clickbaity article about records that supposedly will never be broken

  • Christopher Young

    perhaps you should learn about the english language and it’s context…key words in your statement are IN THEORY…as in hasn’t happened yet, therefore it’s currently irrelevant.

  • Jonathan Gray

    It’s ironic that you would be making a comment about another’s grasp of the English language when you yourself failed to convey your message in a grammatically correct manner. Also if you were to (re)read the title of the article perhaps you might understand why the comment that you so condescendingly replied to is in-fact relevant.

  • Tony Johnson

    Awww someone said there would be balloons..

  • Sealy57

    I have my doubts about Bloodhound. Once that rocket kicks it, it could go in any direction, including vertical. I’m assuming the designers have taken the need for downforce into serious consideration, but going from 700-odd mph to 1000 is an awful big jump.

  • IndecentAffection

    Grammer Nazi XD

  • Jonathan Gray

    Nice try. A grammar nazi is someone who corrects another’s bad use of grammar for no good reason. I did it to point out hypocrisy. FYI you’re not much better.

  • downhilldude

    Likewise, if the Canberra Summernats Car Festival broke their own record once, it seems perfectly feasible that they will break their own record again, or some other group will. The use of the word “never” should be considered more carefully. (…and, “yes”, I know what clickbait is.)

  • Lynn Salton

    Who set the world speed record? Why, none other than a former RCAF fighter pilot, Andy Green.
    I was pretty impressed to read that Andy Green was a Canadian fighter pilot… but he’s not. Wing Commander Green isn’t Canadian, he’s British and in the RAF not the RCAF.

  • Christopher Young

    If the only point in contradiction you have is my grammar then your words themselves are very flaccid, there is a difference between not knowing and know caring, english is my native tongue, I understand it quite fluently…the fact you felt the need to point out my grammar and only my grammar is what makes you the nazi. And it’s not even a valid point…just an act of desperation to get any attention drawn to yourself while trying to make yourself look better, I made valid points…you didnt, however you did make yourself look like that fool using the nipple crippler in The Pacifist…a desperate fool who holds themselves in better standing then everyone else…if you had no valid point to discuss you shouldnt have wasted our time with your grammar ocd

  • Christopher Young

    Also OH NO HE DIDNT CAPITALIZE THE P MY LIFE IS OVER…that’s you…fucking moron

  • Jonathan Gray

    Nice rant about your feelings being so hurt that you feel as though you have to insult people to feel better about yourself. Seriously, class act 🙂