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1770: A military tractor, driven by a steam engine, achieves a speed of about 2.5mph in Paris.

1803: A steam car built by Richard Trevithick is reported to have reached "eight or nine miles in the hour".

1830s: Commercial steam coaches and omnibuses in England are claimed to operate at speeds in excess of 15mph.

1898: First recognised land speed record of 39.24mph set by Count Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat of France in an electric car, a Jeantaud.

1904: Frenchman Paul Baras reaches 104.52mph in a Darracq on the Ostend- Nieuport road.

1906: Record broken by Fred Marriott in a boat-shaped steam car, at Daytona, Florida, with a speed of 121.57mph.

1924: Ernest Eldridge snatches the record for Britain, reaching 146.01mph in a 1907 Fiat powered by an aircraft engine on a public road at Arpajon, France. Two months later Malcolm Campbell takes his Sunbeam Bluebird to 146.16mph on Pendine Sands, Wales, and achieves a speed of 150.869mph the following year.

1927: Major Henry Segrave takes his Sunbeam, Golden Arrow, to 203.792mph at Daytona. His rival, Parry Thomas, is killed when his car spins out of control during a run on Pendine Sands.

1931: Malcolm Campbell wrests the record back and raises it 4 times, achieving 301.129mph in 1935.

1960: American Micky Thompson reaches 406.6mph in Challenger.

1964: Malcolm Campbell's son Donald hits 403.1mph in Bluebird II, before the US's Art Arfons reaches 479mph in his jet-powered Green Monster. Fellow American Craig Breedlove pushes the record to 526.28mph with Spirit of America, and Arfons attains a speed of 559.18mph before the year is out.

1965: Breedlove achieves 555.483mph in new vehicle, Sonic I. Arfons replies with a run at 576.533mph, but Breedlove later gets up to 608.201mph.

1967: Art Arfons survives a crash in Green Monster at about 610mph.

1970: American Gary Gabelich takes the rocket-powered Blue Flame up to 631.367mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah - the highest speed reached in such a vehicle.

1979: American Stan Barrett reputedly reaches 739.666mph in the rocket- powered Budweiser Rocket, at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The published speed is not ratified by the US Air Force.

1983: The UK's Richard Noble takes the jet-powered Thrust II to 633.468mph in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada.

1996: Richard Noble and RAF Tornado pilot Andy Green square up against the American veteran Breedlove in an attempt to break the sound barrier this summer.