Steam powered Land Rover, and it is not a fairy tale

Steam powered Land Rover, and it is not a fairy tale

We love personalized, custom Land Rovers. But this time instead of showcasing high end models we focus on a model that seems to have been lost in space-time continuum.

Frank Rothwell, today in his 70’s appreciates steam engines and Land Rovers. When he retired, had all the key elements needed to make an insane project like this happen: time, resources, an old Land Rover, and what’s the most important: steam engine mechanical knowledge.


Being an expert on old steam machinery like traction engines and old railroad hardware he stripped the 2.25-liter, 74 horsepower gasoline motor from a 50-year-old Land Rover Series II called “Mildred” and installed a steam engine.

The steam engine, with its horizontal boiler and tall smokestack sticking out of the front of the Land Rover like a tiny locomotive backed into the car. These piston rods are exposed atop the hood, and clatter away as the thing belches massive vape-clouds of steam and trundles along.

Mr. Rothwell has spent over $30,000 building a steam-powered car for his daily commute to work from his home in Oldham to his offices in Chadderton, Greater Manchester.

After dedicating more than 400 hours to the project five years ago, 200 hours building the engine and 200 hours on installation, the custom-built car works like a steam train, with the boiler being fired by coal, which then heats the water up to steam pressure to run the small engine. So before all else, Mr. Rothwell has to light the coal fire and wait for the water in the boiler to be heated to steam before pulling off. The coal-powered engine is able to propel the car 12 to 15 miles per hour on 200 psi of pressure.


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„I wanted it to be something unique and and something which no-one had ever done before” – said the traction engine enthusiast who encountered a couple of mechanical hiccups along the way but was confident he could pull it off.

 Though his wife of 50 years has been less enthusiastic about the project – she hasn’t even had a ride on it –, the grandchildren absolutely love it, they find it so exciting to have a ride on it and chug along.



The magical car after the modification got louder, rougher, smokier, and the coal-fed steam engine eats an easy 100 pounds of coal per hour.

Peter Faidt

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