Monday, September 16, 2013

Turbo Sonic Dragster

When I first saw this on The Guild of Automotive Restorers website I thought it was a film prop for some B movie the truth was that this thing was real custom built to race, apparently. Built by Dick Dean and others out of the garages of George Barris as you can probably imagine it was fitted with a jet engine and is wrapped in total 60’s custom car excess and paint. The literature of the time described as -

Built in the early 60’s, the Turbo-Sonic was designed as the 25th century three-wheel racing car to develop speeds of 300 mph in a quarter mile racing strip powered by a 50 pound fuel burning turbine engine that can reach 1,000 horsepower.

This car was engineered in a combination of monacoque and crossframe construction using alloy tube frame plus a lunamite sheet stock also fiberglass fireproof light weight wings. Controls are operated on a four stage solenoid electrical system for safety, with inner-cockpit fuel mixture switches, and can be operated with a remote control unit for testing stages 50 feet away from the automobile. Driver sits in a complete safety fireproof cockpit and encased in a unitized cross tube frame roll bar. Two-way radio will be used to transmit dial readings and car controlling effects between driver and pit crew. Total weight of the car dry is 850 pounds with a wing span of 7 feet 9 inches and a v-shaped length of 17 feet encased in a spear-headed delta v-shaped aero-dynamic design fuselage and streamlined wing tip wheel covered pads.

Engine operates through a v-drive gear reduction unit and directly into a reversed ring and pinion rear end which drives each wheel independently turning 92,000 revolutions per minute and reduced 16 to 1 developing 8,000 revolutions per minute at the wheels. For stopping the vehicle, a combination of an offset blown parachute plus four stabilizer wing flaps are used, and for low speed stopping are Airheart spot disc brakes. To finish off this ultra sonic design, the color is 40 coats of transformation in a turbine fire effect flame of pearl and fire frost flakes from a white pearl nose into a translucent yellow into an after-burning orange finishing off into fire red. Designed and built by Barris Kustom City, co-owned by Mr. R. E. Barrett. Engineering and styling contributions are by Mr. Les Tompkins, Mr. Dick Dean and Mr. Tom Daniels. Test driver was Mr. S. P. Torgeson.
In reality it was quoted as having only 300bhp with the engines ripping its self apart on its first outing in 1966 at Long Beach. Apparently the crew didn’t drain off the fuel in the engine for the second run!!! The current owner has also described some of the “innovative” aspects as well none existent such as the brakes they were simple under powered callipers from a motorbike and the solenoid control seems to be some switches on an empty box!!!! Take a look at this link for more revelations. Does this change how awesome it is, no way, its got 3 wheels and a jet engine.

After the engine exploded it was never replaced instead a motorbike engine was grafted into the rear, thankfully the guys at The Guild of Automotive Restorers have found an original and now very rare jet engine and are bringing it back to its awesome glory. Take a look at the link below to see some of the progress photos of the restoration to see exactly how much works been involved.
For more information-

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