Volkswagen sets speed record with souped-up Beetle

Volkswagen sets speed record with souped-up Beetle

A souped-up Volkswagen Beetle with a turbocharged engine has hit speeds of more than 200mph to set a new world record.

The car was driven at the fastest speed ever documented for a Beetle over a mile at the legendary Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, US.

Known as the Beetle LSR – or Land Speed Record – it was given some hefty modifications to help it reach a record-breaking 205.122mph.

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These include the addition of a powerful 2.0-litre direct-injection engine, special wheels and a dramatically lowered body.

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The engine itself was also finely tuned with a new turbocharger, different pistons, camshafts, connecting rods and cylinder head modifications.

Driver Preston Lerner said he thought the machine could have hit even higher speeds if the conditions had allowed.

“Exceeding 200 miles per hour in the Beetle LSR was a serious thrill,” he said.

“We had enough power to go even faster if the salt hadn’t been so sketchy. But seeing 208 miles per hour briefly on the digital readout was an experience I’ll never forget.”

First built in 1938, the Beetle became a design icon that better known for its association with the hippie movement of the 1960s and its appearance in the Herbie films than for speed.

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But the Beetle LSR is altogether a different type of motor, capable of delivering an impressive 543bhp and 421lb ft of torque.

It was also equipped with a safety system, with a rollover protection cage, a race seat with five-point harness and a fire-extinguishing system.

The car was being driven at the World of Speed event, one of five major land speed events that take place on the Salt Flats.

One of the most distinctive sights in Utah, the Salt Flats have been used for land speed events since the start of the 20th century.

Most recently, motorcycle manufacturer Triumph has been attempting to set its own land speed record at the Salt Flats with a specially made machine piloted by Isle of Man TT tracer Guy Martin.

However, the team has suffered a setback in its pursuit of the record as its efforts have been hampered by rain.

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