It looks like the Matador once again triumphs over the Maverick in our Choose Your Eternity version of What To Drive In '75, showing that if only AMC had stayed in business... well, maybe not. However, those two cars were pretty un-hellish choices; since today is a post-holiday-weekend Monday, we're going to get back into true Project Car Hell with a couple of projects any sane gearhead would fear and revere in equal measure. Cars with airplane engines!
As the former owner of a Mercury Cyclone, I can verify that they're indeed cool. Cooler by far than the Mercury Division had a right to produce; no doubt the managers responsible for the Cyclone were sentenced to Lynx Siberia as punishment for their effrontery. But Mercury wasn't able to airbrush the unpersons- or, rather, uncars- out of the picture, and so Cyclones can still be found. For example, this 1970 Cyclone GT. But only 351 cubic inches? And what's with the tired old V8 layout? What a Cyclone needs is a nine-banger radial engine- say, a Wright Cyclone 1820. Fortunately, we've got you covered, with this complete R-1820-82B Cyclone, available right now with a Buy It Now of a mere $5,500! Yes, 1,820 cubic inches of supercharged glory; since it weighs about 2,800 pounds, we figure it could be mounted in the Mercury's trunk, with the driveshaft facing straight down- just flip the differential 90 degrees, find a way to squeeze some sort of transmission in there, and you've got a rear-engine setup that should hook up real good at the dragstrip. Of course, you'll need to put some more weight in the front to balance things out, so how about adding an Eldorado 500 engine with transaxle, giving you all-wheel-drive and a grand total of 17 cylinders and 2,320 cubic inches. No replacement for displacement, ya know! Now, the engine needs some going through, and the car isn't exactly perfect, but that won't matter as long as you imagine what the finished product will sound like.
Well, that Cyclone-powered Cyclone sounds OK, but piston engines have too many moving parts, and wouldn't you rather talk about your car's power in terms of thrust? That's why you should consider a jet-powered Oldsmobile Jetstar! You start with this '62 Olds Jetfire, which comes burdened with a wimpy proto-Rover turbocharged V8 (And since Craigslist car ads have a way of disappearing before the Project Car Hell post goes live, I'm going to try to get around that by including a screenshot of the ad; if the ad disappears, just click this link to see it in all its original glory). Then you get rid of all the old-fashioned running gear and bolt in this General Electric J47, which goes for just $7,500. Yes, this Jetfire is a bit rough, and you'll need to upgrade the brakes and so on, but this is the engine used in the B-47 Stratojet (thanks to Bill for the tip)! There's no description on the engine, so you figure you might need to do a rebuild... well, how hard can that be? The best part is: no transmission required- just find a way to mount, feed, and control it and you're ready to start using a Jet Jetfire as your daily driver (this will be much easier if you live by an airport, since most gas stations don't carry jet fuel). Oh, by the way, you shifty-eyed furrin types (or Americans living abroad) can just forget about this project, because the seller is a patriot who "Will only sell to a US citizen living in the USA."
And now, for those of you who want to space out at your desks and waste some work time staring at hypnotic graphics, check out this cool animation of radial engine operation (courtesy of Wikipedia):