MTT Y2K: the crazy motorcycle powered by a Rolls-Royce helicopter engine


Since the 1940s, manufacturers have been studying the feasibility of jet engines in road vehicles. GM introduced a series of futuristic turbine-powered concept cars, starting with the 1953 Firebird 1. A decade later, Chrysler launched the Turbine Car on public roads, an experiment that ultimately failed. The next American-made vehicle to use such a powertrain hit the streets in 2000, and unlike its predecessors, it only had two wheels.

The company behind this bundle of madness is called Marine Turbine Technologies (MTT). Based in Louisiana, it has been in existence since 1903 and designs, designs and tests high performance turbines, primarily for marine and industrial applications.

In the late 1990s, after developing crazy jet concepts to bolster MTT’s image, CEO Ted McIntyre decided to add motorcycle production to the company’s resume. While the idea of ​​attaching a few wheels and a handlebar to a turbine engine was fairly straightforward, MTT had no previous experience building bicycles. To solve this problem, McIntyre hired Christian Travert, the man responsible for some of the most outrageous custom motorcycles the world has ever seen.

By 1999, when Suzuki released the mighty Hayabusa, Travert and his team had finished developing the Y2K Turbine Superbike, and the company was ready for its official unveiling. Initially encountered with skepticism by bikers around the world who couldn’t believe this crazy machine was real and fully functional, it was successfully tested several times, and a year later MTT was already building and delivering legal units for the road. .

This incredible piece of engineering was powered by a 250-C18 turboshaft engine originally designed by Allison in the United States but produced by Rolls-Royce since the British company acquired Allison in 1995.

It was slightly modified for motorcycle use and could spit 320 hp (240 kW), almost double the number of ponies the Hayabusa could produce. Using a manual transmission was out of the question with all this raw horsepower, so Travert opted for a two-speed automatic. The engine was by no means fuel efficient, but it could run on a wide range of fuels, including diesel, vodka, or cologne.

Driving the year 2000 has been described as a unique but extremely frightening experience. As soon as you put the key in the ignition and hit the start button, the thunderous roar of the turbine engine normally heard on airport runways reminded you that this was the craziest superbike ever built. .

Those who had the courage to try to push the limits managed to quickly reach speeds of around 200 mph (322 km / h). According to MTT, the fastest recorded speed was 227 mph (365 km / h), but the company claimed it could theoretically go even faster.

Besides the courage to ride one, owning a Y2K required a lot of money. The starting price was $ 175,000 ($ 278,770 today), which was a Guinness World Record for the most expensive motorcycle to ever go on sale.

It was produced until 2005, and although MTT did not disclose exact production numbers, at one point they struggled to keep up with demand. Each Y2K was custom built to customer specifications and the owner roster includes wealthy Middle Eastern princes and kings as well as celebrities like Jay Leno who took his Y2K through the streets of New York in the episode of Jay Leno’s Garage which you can find below.

For 2006, MTT revealed an even more outrageous version called Street Fighter. It was equipped with a Rolls-Royce 250-C20B engine developing 420 hp (310 kW). The same powertrain was used in the successor to the Y2K, the 420RR, which has been in production since 2015 and is also available as a tricycle.

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