If you’re into wacky car builds, chances are you’ve probably seen a jet car or a few. Here is one jet car that likely inspired many future builds. Remember the flame-spitting Jet Beetle? It’s for sale for a jaw-dropping $550,000!
This ludicrous Beetle is the brainchild of Ron Patrick, a mechanical engineer with a PhD from Stanford University. He built it in the mid-2000s with the idea to make the wildest street-legal car possible. Well, it’s definitely a success. Patrick built a car like no other.
It’s a car that is a celebrity in its own right, showing up in print and video absolutely everywhere. And yes, you read that right, it’s still street-legal. Patrick and his Beetle quickly gained fame. Check out this silly David Letterman interview from 2007.
This 2000 Volkswagen retains its original gasoline engine and automatic transmission up front. Keeping them leaves the car legal to drive — the jet engine out back probably wouldn’t be welcome in traffic — without attracting the wrong attention. When it’s time to have some fun, spool up that jet engine and start spitting mad flames.
Patrick drove the Beetle to many car shows, drawing large crowds wherever he went. Come to think of it, we mentioned this beast five years ago!
If you take a close look at the photos, you can definitely tell this isn’t just a jet engine tossed into a Beetle. As Patrick states in his ad, he wanted to make the Beetle look like it came from Volkswagen that way. He chose a Beetle because it looks stunning with the jet in back, and it displays the engine well.
The jet engine started life as a General Electric T58-8F turboshaft engine meant for a helicopter. Patrick then made some internal modifications to the engine to convert it into the flame-shooting monster it is today.
That massive engine is lighter than you think at 300 pounds, but don’t let the light weight fool you. It idles at 13,000 RPM and spooled up, it’s running 26,000 rpm, gulping air at 11,000 cubic feet per minute and producing an incredible 1,350 horsepower. That’s more power than a Bugatti Veyron, for a fraction of the price and many times the drama. It’ll attract far more crowds than any modern Bugatti, too.
The attention to detail is remarkable. The custom jet-engine gauges hug the Beetle’s speedometer and even the font used for the switches matches the font Volkswagen used in the cluster.
The structure that holds the engine in place was designed using finite element analysis, and the engine mounts slide as the engine expands and contracts with temperature changes. The engine is fed from a 14-gallon Kevlar fuel cell residing in the spare tire well.
To add icing to the cake, Patrick even relocated the hatch’s latch and painted the jet engine area in the same finish used on the outside of the car. It’s staggering how good everything looks together.
A potential downside is you’ll need to have the windows and sunroof open so the engine can gulp the air it needs. I wouldn’t recommend running it in a snowstorm if you care about warmth. Wondering how fast it is? He claims to have pegged the speedometer with it, but the new owner will need to be a daredevil to find its true top speed.
(H/T - Dieseldub)