During world war II, Rover worked on the new gas turbine engines. This work subsequently moved to Rolls Royce who went on to become a major manufacturer of jet engines after the war. However Rover maintained an interest in gas turbines and made a number of gas turbine powered cars. An early prototype was Jet 1, unveiled in 1950. It reached 90mph (140km/h) at 50,000rpm but the fuel consumption was a poor 5 to 7mpg (40 to 50L per 100km); it could run on petrol, diesel or paraffin. The engine is mid-mounted. Jet 1 is in the Science Museum, South Kensington, London.
The Rover T3 could have formed the basis of an acceptable production car; it was rear-engined and had four-wheel drive, perhaps to keep a light front-end under control.
The Rover T4 looks for all the world like a modified P6 / Rover 2000 / 3500 fitted with a gas turbine engine. The Rover 2000 had unusual front suspension making for a wide engine bay, possibly to fit the gas turbine. The gas turbine version did not go into production but the 3.5L V8 later fitted in the space provided.
A Rover/BRM gas turbine powered coupe performed creditably in
the 1963 LeMans 24 hour race,
driven by Graham Hill and Richie Ginther.
It averaged 107.8 mph and
had a top speed of 142 mph down the Mulsanne straight.
It ran again in 1965, averaging 98.8 mph,
fitted with a 126 h.p. Rover turbine.
Maximum rpm were 60,000!
It is very difficult to make a gas turbine that is both small
and fuel efficient.
The second run may have been slower
either because the car had a less powerful engine,
or because it was fitted with a heat-exchanger (regenerator),
The car is now held at the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust
Rover gas-turbines were manufactured for a variety of stationary applications. One hoped-for market was in emergency pumps, e.g. in marine use; a gas-turbine is light and can be run quickly up to power.
A number were built for educational and training purposes, typically connected to a dynamometer and test-rig to measure pressures, temperatures and fuel consumption against revs, torque and power. A large trumpet fed into the air inlet. Air flowed down the black ducts to the gas turbine. The compressor was a single centrifugal stage. The high-pressure air was taken up and sideways to the reverse-flow combustion chamber. The hot exhaust gases passed back down to a single-stage axial-flow turbine mounted on the single shaft or "spool". The shaft drove the compressor, and also the external load via reduction gears.
A plate on the combustion chamber casing of one unit read: Rover 1960, Rover Gas Turbines Ltd., Solihull, England. Manufactured by Rover Gas Turbines Ltd. under licence from the Rover Co. Ltd. under the following British patents and patent applications....etc..
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