Rolls-Royce Meteor 27litre V12

Originally found in British WWII tanks, and in the supercharged guise, in Spitfire aircraft as the well known 'Merlin', this particular Meteor has been squeezed into a 1980's Rover SD1 road car.

This remarkable project was started many years ago, but only recently came into the hands of Omex. Previous attempts at running the engine were not working as hoped so the owner Charlie rang Omex to see what we could offer.

Although the request from Charlie sounded simple; "make the engine run reliably enough to go to the Nurburgring", this is a suprisingly complicated engine and was never designed for this use, so making it driveable was the main challenge for Omex.

The engine already had many parts fitted from an earlier attempted EFI installation; a 36-1 crank trigger wheel, coolant and air temperature sensors, a throttle position sensor, and fuel injectors. The sensor were all kept and used with the Omex ECU, but the fuel injectors were replaced by 12 newer injectors with much better fuel spray patterns. A cam sensor was fitted to allow sequential control of these injectors with the aim being better running at the very low engine speeds. As this engine produces more torque at idle than the car's original engine did flat-out, and the gearing is for 200mph, the engine will nearly always be driven at very low speeds so the running in that condition is the most important feature.

The standard ignition on this engine is from 2 single coils, through two distributors, to two sparks plugs on each cylinder with a fixed timing offset between them, run by magnetos. The ECU runs the same two single coils, but now with full ignition timing control, and also with a map for the timing difference to the second spark plug.





The engine was run on the rolling road just days before the car was set to go to the Nurburgring for a magazine feature, and so mapping was very conservative, but the engine easily showed more torque than anything else on the Omex rolling road so far at over 1000lbft! The car drove to the Nurburgring, round it, and back again faultlessly, with Charlie also reporting nearly half the fuel consumption that it had on the old system.

Charlie's project does not end here though... At the moment, the engine is held back by the transmission not allowing us to rev over 2000rpm, but Charlie is onto that problem with a transmission coming that will allow nearly double those revs. Combined with new exhaust and possibly even new inlet designs for next year, the next target, to hit 200mph, looks to be not far away.


Charlie’s Meteor was on the Channel 5’s UK motoring television show ‘Fifth Gear’ on Friday 1st April filming a high speed run where it achieved 160mph. The video from this is available on the Fifth Gear website at the links below. Speaking to Charlie afterwards it seems he had no difficulty getting to 160mph, but stopping it from those speeds was more of a problem! We will shortly be mapping the engine for higher speeds but Charlie will have to change the brakes before he goes for 200mph, or find a very long runway!

Update 2

Charlie visited our dyno to trial a new exhaust system. This, combined with the removal of the gas carburettors gave huge gains, allowing the engine to produce more power at the higher engine speeds and 1550 lbft of torque at the wheels at 1200rpm! Charlie is never one to stand still and is already on the search for more high speed power. A cam change in these engines is not a simple task, and high lift cams for one of these engines is not exactly an ‘off-the-shelf’ part, so Charlie is now talking about forced induction…