Off to salt flats with ‘Kiwi Coupe’

Owen Jones extracts himself from Kiwi Coupe, a New Zealand-built land-speed car that will compete...
Owen Jones extracts himself from Kiwi Coupe, a New Zealand-built land-speed car that will compete at the Bonneville Salt Flats Speed Week in August. Photo: Christine O'Connor
An Oamaru man’s need for speed will take him to the United States to take part in the famed Bonneville Speed Week from August 11 to 17.

Geoff Omnet is one of a crew of eight who will travel to the Utah salt flats with  Kiwi Coupe, a 1934 steel-bodied Plymouth constructed as a land-speed vehicle, for the event.

The car’s owners, Owen Jones, of Dunedin, and Chris Barnes, of Invercargill, will also make the trip.

Mr Omnet said the purposes of giving the car a run at the Bonneville event was not about attempting to break any kind of  speed record, but to ensure it handled well at extreme speeds.

"It’s easy to make horsepower. It’s an old 1934 Plymouth coupe, so making it go fast might be a little harder. Horsepower’s easy; handling’s not so easy.

"We’ve made lead blocks, 150 lead blocks, that we can nail in and around the car and try to sort out the handling issues. Speed’s not the plan this time. If we can do 200 miles an hour [322kmh] and sort the handling issues we’ll get more confident going faster."

The heavily modified vehicle weighs 2.5 tonnes and is powered by a 427 Merlin V8 engine, with two 780 Holley carburettors in a sealed air box.

"It’s in the hot-rod class, so it doesn’t have any superchargers or turbochargers," Mr Omnet said.

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