After several entries ( perks, doing a bit for the environment, too late ) about wanting to see HCC's Hydrogen Powered Shelby Cobra I finally got to see it today. Not only see it but I got to hear it, feel it's clean moist exhaust, and take a ride in it.
This car runs on hydrogen. Not as a fuel cell would, it uses combustion. The only exhaust is water vapor, so putting your face directly in front of the exhaust pipe is no more dangerous than putting your face over a boiling pot of water. If you locked yourself in a garage with the engine running you would have a nice sauna, instead of killing yourself.
Because the original Shelby engine does not have fuel injection it needed a more complex modification for hydrogen. Lloys told me that fuel injection cars need little engine modification. Most of the complexity comes from adjusting the car's computer so that it supports the hydrogen fuel.
Lloys tells me that a standard Cobra gets 12 mpg on gasoline and that they have the engine configured on this one to get 20 mpg of hydrogen. Good thing, because this small black hydrogen tank only holds four gallons. If you ordered a new Cobra you could get a bigger tank in there before they put the skin on the frame. Because this one was a conversion the skin was already there so they went with a smaller tank.
She tells me that the tank is made of carbon fiber. Much stronger than the plastic gas tank that is probably in my car. It has been drop tested, crash tested, and they even shot it with a gun. The tank did not explode. Hydrogen dissipates very quickly. Straight up. Even if it were to catch fire there is no ambient heat transferred from the flame. You would have to be directly in the flame to get hurt.
There are even sensors in the back to shut down the fuel flow in case a leak was detected. Kevin told me that he would rather be rear ended in this car than any gasoline powered car.
The engine is currently configured for 250 hp. They could get more out of it but then it would be less efficient and also run the risk of converting some of the nitrogen in our atmosphere into nitros oxide. Which would be bad for the environment.
It was really amazing. Like any Shelby it was super powerful. The exhaust sound had a nice rumble to it.
My co-workers and I am really thankful to Jim and Kevin for coming from Riverside with the car. I didn't know that they would have to come all the way from Riverside. I thought they had a car at the office on Wilshire. I also didn't realize that the car had to come on a truck. I thought they would be capable of driving it on the street.
As you can see the car has no plates. The smog test requires that the car's engine not be modified. Even if the modification gets better emissions. So technically it failed the smog test. HCC does assure me that if you bought one you could get an experimental car permit. Then you could make it street legal.
As I said, I got to take a ride in it. This is the view from the passenger seat. Very tiny. No seat belts. We didn't open the doors just got in Dukes of hazard style. I'm not sure if the doors actually open, they probably do, but what's the point. It accelerated very quickly. Jim drove it around the parking lot and out into the street and then back around to the parking lot again. He seemed very reluctant, probably because of the "not street legal" situation. It didn't have power steering and looked difficult to turn. The speed bump in the parking lot demonstrated that it has very little ground clearance. On the way back into the parking lot Jim really let it rip. Accelerating around a turn and along the long side of the lot, then braking very quickly. The roar of the engine set off a car alarm.
Of course I would love it if this were my car. The HCC symbol is great too. The H with the one electron around it. So simple, so cool. I can say that several people at Sony are now interested in buying hydrogen Ford Rangers from HCC in the future, myself included. We'll have to see when that hydrogen fueling station opens at UCLA.
We would also like to thank Lloys of HCC for getting the visit together and the T-shirts. Oh and I'm going to keep pushing to get this car into GT5.
Doing good for the environment and getting the US off its dependency on oil.