A high speed research engine has optical access to over 80% of the combustion chamber volume through a piston with a quartz window. The engine has been used to study the effect of swirl on the spark-ignited combustion by means of high speed photography and analysis of combustion-time data. Results over the speed, swirl and mixture strength range show the flame travel derived from the pressure to agree with the measured flame travel to within 3% on average. Turbulent to laminar flame speed ratios as high as 45 occur under high swirl conditions. However it was not possible to find a predictive model which could explain the turbulent flame speed in terms of engine design variables.