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Honda sets world speed record using 660cc engine

Honda beats their own speed record set by a V10-powered Formula One car with a streamliner car powered by an engine from the S660 roadster.

In what is probably the greatest counter-argument to the age-old ‘no replacement for displacement’ adage, Honda’s “Bonneville Speed Challenge” project recently set a new FIA World Record for a vehicle in the ‘Category-A Group-1 Class-4’ class using a streamliner car powered by a 660cc three-cylinder engine lifted from the S660 kei-car class roadster.

The streamliner, christened the Honda S-Dream, set an official speed of 421.447km/h over the course of a flying mile, and 421.593km/h over a kilometre, at the Bonneville Speed Weeks held on the salt flats around Bonneville, Utah.

According to Honda the official speed wasn’t the quickest the S-Dream set, as the streamliner achieved 428km/h in a later run, though the speed wasn’t officially counted for as they wasn’t able to duplicate the speed on a return run to set an official record. Even so, Honda says the S-Dream was already able to crack the official class record with a speed of 366.57km/h on the first day of the Bonneville Speed Weeks.

The S-Dream surpasses the brand’s fastest speed record of 397.360km/h over a flying mile and 397.481km/h over a kilometre, set by a de-winged V10-powered Honda 007 Formula One car in 2006.

  • 2016 Honda s660. 2016 Honda s660.
  • 2016 Honda s660. 2016 Honda s660.
  • 2016 Honda s660. 2016 Honda s660.
  • 2016 Honda s660. 2016 Honda s660.

That being said the engine used to power the S-Dream to its record wasn’t just lifted straight out of an S660. Instead the engineering team behind the S-Dream combed through the engine normally used in Honda’s tiny kei-class cars, looking for ways to extract more than three times the power for which it was designed for.

As a result, the engineers replaced its cylinder block, pistons, crankshaft, and valves. The lower block has been replaced with an item made from steel, whereas its connecting rods have been reinforced to give it the robustness to withstand the rigours of a speed run.

Although Honda doesn’t quote any power figures from the modified engine, in its stock form - in the S660 - the 660cc three-cylinder turbocharged engine has a humble peak power output of 47kW.

That being said the possible power output of the engine in its stock form is unknown as Japanese Kei-Car regulations officially limits it to 47kW.

Furthermore it is unknown how much power Honda’s 660cc Kei-Car engine is designed to handle, considering that most production engines are tuned for longevity, reliability, drivability, and meeting emissions and efficiency requirements, rather than outright power.

The Japanese of course are no strangers to making engines capable of producing insane amounts of power such as the turbocharged RB26 engines in the R32, R33, and R34 Nissan GT-Rs or the 2JZ engines in the Mk4 Supras. Engines which are capable of producing over 700kW - with the right modifications - way more than the quoted ‘gentlemen’s agreed’ power limit of 206kW for performance cars in Japan from the decade of the 1990s.

The “Bonneville Speed Challenge” was an internal project established by Honda’s research and development division. Announced in 2015 with the explicit goal of “Achieve world speed record with 660cc engine” in those words, the project consisted of 16 personnel picked from a pool of 100 volunteers.  

Unfortunately for the rest of the world the S660 will remain largely an exclusive model to the Japanese domestic market as its kei-car engineering means that it won't be able to meet legislation requirements in many foreign markets, particularly in the area of crash safety.

Would you like to see Japanese kei-cars come to Australia? Tell us what you think in the comments below.