It has been 60 years since the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah saw French carmaker Renault try to break speed records on the iconic, white surface - and what a sensational return it has made.
Back in 1954, it started testing on the salt with a car dubbed the Etoile Filante. In French, it meant 'Shooting Star' and the moniker was very apt indeed; the vehicle had a 270 horsepower petrol turbine engine which was built by French aeronautical turbine manufacturer Turbomeca, and it was designed to push the limits of speed and engineering. What’s more, Renault hoped that its success at Bonneville would lead to huge sales of the Dauphine in the US.
With an exterior made out of polyester, crafted on a tubular frame (materials used for their light yet strong qualities) the Etoile Filante went on to achieve a world record speed of 191mph (308.9kph) at the Salt Flats. Back then, it was the fastest speed a petrol turbine-powered car had ever hit and in the process, it broke four speed records.
Two of those still hold today – and now, 60 years later, Renault came back to the salt in honour of that magical day with iconic Etoile Filante and a race-ready Dauphine for Bonneville Speed Week. And what a return it made – it has set another record. The Dauphine, driven by Frenchman Nicolas Prost, hit 76.451mph (123kph) – setting a new record for the Classic Gas Coupe (CGC) class for cars produced between 1928 and 1981 with an engine capacity of between 754 cc and 1,015cc.
Way to go, Renault!