Burkland Streamliner


Date Location Driver Driver Country Vehicle Power Speed over
1 Km
Speed over
1 Mile

October 16, 2004

Bonneville Salt Flats, USA

Tom Burkland


Burkland's Streamliner
2xChrysler Donovans




Not recognized by the FIA

September 26, 2008 Bonneville Salt Flats, USA Tom Burkland USA Burkland 411 Streamliner IC
supercharged hemi
(669.319 KPH)
Piston-engined record Group I, Class 11: 2 or 4 stroke engine with supercharger, cylinder capacity > 8000 cm

Actual construction of the streamliner took approximately one year. Thanks to Tom's aerospace engineering background, it is highly sophisticated but still very much a hot rod. At 24 feet, the car is a little shorter than most streamliners, but with a frontal area of only 7.4 square feet and a drag coefficient of 0.119, it's one of the slickest. It measures 38 inches wide and 41 inches tall at the top of the air intake. Burkland designed a slender body much like an aircraft fuselage. The shape is slightly bulbous at the front while tapering at the rear with twin hydraulically actuated clamshell speed-brake doors. The nose is built from a modified F4 Phantom wing tank holding nearly 57 gallons of engine-cooling water. A full bellypan deals with boundary-layer air passing under the low-slung vehicle.

Tom designed the chassis for loads up to 20 g's, building it from 4130 chrome-moly tubing with a fully armor-plated driver's compartment with a wrap of 0.125-inch plate over the top of the rollbar and 0.090-inch for the side panels. The front track width is 26 inches and the rear is a mere 15 inches-barely 4 inches separates the rear tires. Stainless steel fuel tanks on either side of the driver hold a total of 76 gallons and are designed to break away in an accident.

Sandwiched inside the 195-inch wheelbase frame are two 452ci, alcohol-burning, aluminum Donovan Hemis connected at the crankshafts, with one engine driving the rear wheels and the other driving the fronts. The rear engine is standard rotation, while the front is reverse rotation with a dual-disc clutch at each end. Each clutch drives through air-shifted Liberty five-speed transmissions to rigid-mounted 1:1 final drive axles. Tom spent considerable time discussing design concepts with the late Bob Summers, who planned to supply the gearboxes before his untimely passing.

The early 392-style Donovan Hemis are force-fed by 8-71 Mooneyham superchargers with early Crower eight-port upright mechanical injectors feeding alcohol through 16 nozzles. On its initial trial, the car melted much of the wiring due to heat in what was then a common engine bay. That led to ducting revisions, partitions aft of the cockpit for cooling purposes, and HPC coatings on the entire exhaust system. Spring-loaded exhaust doors that close at speed were added to the upper engine cover. Splitters in the air-intake scoop direct air to the appropriate bays in carefully determined amounts. Separate stainless steel header-bay baffling keeps heat off the engines. Header and engine bays receive separate cooling airflow based on the heat loads observed.

With declining course lengths, stopping the car is a critical function. Tom designed a hydraulically actuated speed-brake system that opens the rear clamshell doors to provide stable high-speed drag. A nitrogen-charged accumulator provides pressure-balanced continuous drag while slowing. The single cockpit control slide allows the doors to partially open from air drag, deploying the initial 4.5-foot drag 'chute. Next, the accumulator opens the doors farther and farther as the car slows to about 350 mph, then the 6.5-foot mid-speed 'chute is released, slowing the car to a point where the four-wheel disc brakes can take over. Parachute number three is a 6.5-foot backup and number four is an 8-foot "Hail Mary" anchor to stop the car quickly from 250 mph or less in an emergency. Stroud Safety supplies the ribbon-style parachute canopies and riser lines.

The car is a showcase of innovation, and the Burklands' unerring attention to detail and selective application of aerospace design principles have created a car with far greater potential than has been shown. It's clear they want to crack that 500-mph barrier with a piston-powered hot rod.