Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.

Rolls Royce Meteor Engine spec

  • Capacity                                27 Lt
  • Bore and Stroke                  5.4 ins  x 6.0 ins
  • Valves                                   4 per cylinder    Overhead Camshaft
  • Cylinder arrangement       60 deg V 12
  • Compression ratio             6-1
  • Maximum BMEP                 132 lb/sq in @1500 rpm
  • Torque                                 1450 lb/ ft
  • Maximum nominal BHP    650 @ 2500 rpm

This Meteor engine spec was taken from an excellent little book

published by The Rolls Royce Heritage Trust  called The RR Meteor

Cromwell and other applications  No 35 In there Historical Series

ISBN  1872922 24 4  It covers the development and evolution  of the

Meteor in great detail from 1942 until production ceased at the Rover

works in 1964


     After a lot more head scratching,  I decided to make a start by  removing  all the parts from the engine that I would not need, first to go was all the fan drives and tensioner  from the rear of the engine. This left a large part of  the aluminium crankcase casting in the way. Its a bit vicious, but, a disk cutter  is the only way to go, and with a good bit of cold chiseling, sanding, filing  and a bolted on blanking plate I was getting ahead.

     The problem with the looks of the Meteor compared to a Merlin is a  large and ugly water heated inlet manifold with a great thermostat and air inlet  housing stuck right on top.  Unfortunately when you remove this you also remove  the two huge bronze Zenith twin choke up draft carburetors along with their throttle and  choke linkages,   I was lucky in that I had a large amount of RR Merlin parts that I  had accumulated over the past few years, so as part of the plan to lower the  front profile of the engine I restored a pair of Merlin XX  inlet manifolds and the central  trunking that feeds the fuel mixture to the engine and with very little fettling  they fitted well.  

     Both Merlin and Meteor engines  have a fuel priming system built into  the inlet manifold to aid starting at low r.p.m. plus the carburetors tend to be  a long  way from the inlet valves, I built the fuel priming system up from various Merlin and Meteor parts  including suitable adapters to fit the Merlin manifolds. This system was to be  primed with a genuine Spitfire Ki-gas  pump that I had been saving until the  right job came along.  

    Inlet manifolds can be a tricky thing to build at the best of times , needing to be both internally  smooth and gas tight, I solved this problem by fabricating a complete manifold  using a CO2 fire extinguisher body and four Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah  air inlet  trunks, Ex. Avro Anson.


Front of engine showing Starter Motor and Magnetos.Front of engine showing Starter Motor and Magnetos.

Fear of engine showing fan drives .Fear of engine showing fan drives .

  Above can be seen the fan drives and the top hamper that had to be removed , also the hand starter mechanism on the starter motor, before I could start to re-work the engine, The oil filter would be re used later in the build.

The next problem was of my own making . When I changed to the Merlin inlet manifold I retained the stock Meteor ignition harness  and Magnetos but the HT leads did not reach the inlet side spark plugs. I got over the problem by extending the inboard plugs with a top section of another plug and fitted PTFE sleeves with a copper electrode inside this has proved to be a good fix and gives no trouble .The photos below show the finished fire extinguisher manifold  and the fuel priming pipes , 

    I also had to replace the near side cam cover to get rid of the dynamo and oil filter mountings . A good friend of mine had a spare  cam cover that he gave me for the project after a small amount of work to the stud holes it fitted perfectly.  

The Fire extinguisher manifold.The Fire extinguisher manifold.

At this point I put the engine to one side because I needed to make some decisions regarding body type and what I wanted the to do with the car when it was finished.

Priming pipes and Merlin inlet manifoldPriming pipes and Merlin inlet manifold

The photos below are of the engine about a year later, after it had been in and out of the chassis about fifty times and when I was happy with the mountings it was painted and polished.

Front of engine showing starter motor and magnetosFront of engine showing starter motor and magnetos

Aft end of engine showing blanging plate and temporary lifting eye.Aft end of engine showing blanging plate and temporary lifting eye.

   I have added the photo below to give some idea of the size of the Meteor against my Series  3 Land Rover.

  Later in the build I would have to address the issue of exhaust pipes I started of by fitting a set of warbird type short headers that looked great and at a distance sounded not unlike  a Spitfire or Hurricane but up close  the noise was not much fun and the driving position was such that the fumes curled back over the sides and filled the cockpit, so I decided that the only way to go was  Brooklands  Cans and Fishtails ,I found a period publication that gave the  dimensions  that  the race track issued very early on so as not to annoy the public.

     Along  with the original three  section Centurion Tank cast iron exhaust manifold that came with the engine there were  two extra spare center sections so I was able to assemble a pair of cast Iron manifolds with  exits  directly to the rear. The exhaust pipes that I fabricated are held in position with a spring on either side so to allow for expansion without putting strain on the pipe mounts at the rear.

    Exhaust boxes and Fishtails were fabricated from mild steel and at present are painted with heat proof paint to see how they stand up.   I may replace them with stainless steel at a later date.

   I found that I also had to fit heat shields both sides of the vehicle  as it made climbing in and out dangerous  if the engine has been running for more than a few minutes.


    As the R R  Meteor  Engine is aero engine  derived it is a dry sump engine so I had to find room for a  fair sized oil tank. The oil capacity when the engine is fitted in to a Centurion tank is about 30 gallons to help propel an  all up  weight of 57 tons , by the time I had designed an oil tank to fit into the space I had , it ended up at 14 gallons so although I fitted an oil cooler radiator  in front of the engine I have not used the fan cooling yet and even on a very warm day all seems well .


   The  original R R  Meteor oil filter and the new oil tank sit neatly under the step up gearbox with the filler and dip stick accessible from under the bonnet.

   I  decided that the next thing to give some serious thought to should be a chassis, because whatever type of body I was eventually to decide on, I would need a very substantial frame to cope with both the torque and the sprung weight of the finished vehicle.