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Bloodhound SSC project back on after purchase

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Rendering courtesy Bloodhound SSC.

Never say never, apparently. Just 10 days after the administrators in charge of the Bloodhound SSC world land-speed effort announced they were scrapping the project for lack of a buyer, one has apparently emerged and has expressed a willingness to continue the project’s quest for 1,000 mph.

Both the business and its assets — including the scratchbuilt 42-foot-long rocket/jet hybrid streamliner — now belong to Yorkshire businessman Ian Warhurst, according to a Monday morning announcement from Andrew Sheridan and Geoff Rowley, the joint administrators for Bloodhound Programme Ltd.

Sheridan and Rowley stepped in as administrators in October after the project — which had already spent about £30 million since launching in 2007 — ran out of cash and reportedly required another £15 million to break the existing land-speed record and another £10 million on top of that to exceed 1,000 mph. While Sheridan and Rowley claimed to have spoken with potential investors at the time, none had committed by the time the administrators announced earlier this month that they’d planned to shut the project down and part it out, with the streamliner itself offered at £250,000.

According to Sheridan and Rowley’s press release, however, “a number of other interested parties” stepped forward after that announcement, and Warhurst agreed to the purchase for an undisclosed sum.

Warhurst, a mechanical engineer by training, bought turbocharger manufacturer Melett in 2002, shortly after the death of the company’s founder, and oversaw its growth and expansion into the North America and China markets, leading up to that company’s purchase last December by U.S.-based Wabtec Corporation. Warhurst and his wife Nicola have been named to Britain’s Top 100 Entrepreneurs list with an estimated net worth in 2015 of £74 million; almost all of those assets were tied up in Melett.

In a statement posted to the Blodhound SSC website, Warhurst said that he and his family “have been supporters (of the project) for many years and I am delighted to have been able to safeguard the business and assets.”

In the same statement, the team described Warhurst’s purchase as “the best possible Christmas present.”

Founded in the wake of Steve Fossett’s announced attempt at breaking the world land-speed record — which Andy Green set at 763.035 mph in 1997 in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada — the Bloodhound SSC project suffered from a number of financial and logistical setbacks throughout the years before making its first 200-mph test runs at Newquay Airport last year.

While the Bloodhound SSC project has had a track at Hakskeen Pan in South Africa cleared for record runs expected to take place as early as 2016 with Green at the wheel, no timeline was announced along with Warhurst’s purchase. At the time Sheridan and Rowley put the project up for sale in October, Mark Chapman, Bloodhound’s chief engineer, told the BBC that the team could make test runs as early as late 2019, record runs a year later, and 1,000 mph runs in 2021.

Sheridan and Rowley noted that Warhurst intends to outline his plans for the project sometime early next year.