Tony O'Kane | Jun 18, 2009

EARLIER THIS MONTH we brought you news that TV personality and part-time daredevil Jesse James would be taking to the salt flats of California in an attempt to set an all-time land speed record for a hydrogen powered car.

Well, James has done exactly that, smashing the previous record of 297.7km/h held by the BMW H2R and recording a blisteringly-quick 321.4km/h top speed at the El Mirage dry lake bed in the Mojave Desert.

James' steed for the stunt was a 1960s-vintage streamliner, which was modified by him and his crew for the record attempt. The original Chrysler motor made way for a 572 cubic-inch (9.37 litre) Chevrolet V8, which then had a couple of monstrous turbochargers bolted to its exhaust manifolds.

Those turbochargers stuff 50 pounds of boost into the engine's eight cylinders, and hydrogen stored in 10,000psi tanks is burned instead of petrol.

It's all very impressive, but here's the kicker. While a 321.4km/h top speed is certainly nothing to be sneezed at, the vehicle used by James was capable of hitting 381km/h with its older - and far less sophisticated - petrol-drinking engine.

Moreover, James' objective was to break 200mph (321.8km/h) in an alternative fuel car. With the heavily-modded streamliner running out of puff just shy of his target, the result is perhaps not quite the result Jesse James was hoping for...

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