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Something different: RM set to sell 2014's highest performance vehicle

A hypersonic rocket system is one of the more unusual lots up for sale at RM's 8 September sale.

The Kholod Hypersonic rocket system was the result of a unique $95 million joint venture undertaken between NASA and the Russian Institute for New Propellants (CIAM) to develop a hypersonic machine that featured pioneering propulsion technology. Fuelled by cryogenically cooled liquid hydrogen, the technology, often referred to as a “scramjet”, propelled the rocket to a speed of MACH 6.47 (or 4,310 mph). In short, the Kholod rockets were the fastest machines ever to run within Earth’s atmosphere. One of only three remaining examples will be offered for sale at RM Auctions’ upcoming London sale, which will be taking place in Battersea Park on 8 September. 

The first Kholod rocket lifted off from the Sary Shagan test range in Kazakhstan on 27 November 1991—only a few weeks before the dissolution of the USSR—and it reached an altitude of 35 kilometres. Between 1991 and 2001, the HFL Kholod held the world record for outright atmospheric speed, and it remains the fastest “serially produced” machine to have travelled within Earth’s atmosphere. There were just nine Kholod rockets made, and between 1991 and 1998, five of those machines were destroyed during tests, while the other four complete rockets returned to earth. Of those remaining units, one now resides in a private collection in the Middle East, while the others, up until recently, remained in Kazakhstan, where the tests took place. Now, for the first time, one of these remarkable and historically significant rockets will be offered for public sale, alongside approximately 70 handpicked automobiles at RM’s well-established London auction. 

Max Girardo, Managing Director, RM Europe, says: “We have sold some unusual and interesting vehicles in our time, but a hypersonic rocket just about tops the list of the most remarkable objects we’ve ever presented! In all seriousness, the HLF Kholod is a truly significant piece of history, and its sale presents an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for serious collectors of aerospace memorabilia”.

For more on the 8 September sale, including all cars listed for sale, click here.

By Daniel Harrison

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