Illustration for article titled The 17-Liter Chain-Driven Speedster

What has 17-liters, 40-inch tires, 18 spark plugs, disc brakes and a chain drive system? The 1915 Van Blerk Special Speedster. Although this big beast is currently for sale on Ebay, it doesn't come cheap.


Similar to the over-sized roadsters built by the Blastolene Brothers, the Van Blerk Special Speedster is bigger than life. It is almost 18 feet long and sits over 6 feet high. It has 38 inch wheels up front and 40-inch wheel out back. Luckily, the builder of the Van Blerk hid power steering on the car; otherwise it may have turned out impossible to drive.

The Van Blerk was named after the builder of the 17-liter 6-cylinder 200+ horsepower beast that sits under the hood. Van Blerk built high performance race boat engines in the early part of the 20th century for the rich and famous. This particular engine was built in 1915 which gives the Special Speedster it's year designation.


A pre-1920s chain driven fire truck was cut down to form the rest of the Van Blerk Special. Disc Brakes were added during the building process so not only can you steer, but you can also stop safely. This would come in handy if you ever decided to test the seller's claim of the Speedster's 100+ MPH capability. Period correct leather racing helmet and goggles would be mandatory.

The seller doesn't mention when the Van Blerk was put together in its current form. He does mention that the Van Blerk Special Speedster sold at auction to a Texas millionaire for $288,000 last year. Although the Van Blerk is one of the cooler vehicles recently listed on Ebay, it has to be one of the least practical, even as a collector vehicle. It is huge, it is very old, and it is a custom built hot rod. It certainly doesn't make us want to drive it or drool over it any less, but it might make someone think twice before they spend the $199,000 asking price.


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