Got a hole in your garage and another one in your wallet? We’ve found a great way to fill the first one with the money pouring out of the second: Ron Patrick’s street-legal, jet-powered Volkswagen New Beetle is up for sale on Craigslist. If you have $550,000 and a few extra gallons of kerosene, you can be the big hit at your local cruise-in!
Patrick built this ultimate rear-engine conversion while he was studying for his PhD in mechanical engineering from Stanford University. His reason for adding a jet to his bug? “In California, new cars have biennial smog inspections so if you modify the engine, it is likely to fail and you won’t be able to drive it on the street. There are some exempt engine modifications, but none that will allow you to add 1,350 horsepower to a new car.”
Patrick’s New Beetle is an automotive mullet. Up front, the 2000-model-year Bug retains its stock four-cylinder gasoline engine and automatic transmission. Out back, it has a General Electric T58 turboshaft engine. Normally, the T58 is deployed in tandem to power big helicopters like the Sikorsky Sea King. In your next used-car purchase, it works solo to create massively huge flames and Knight Rider-like bursts of acceleration.
What’s best about Patrick’s New Beetle is that it looks almost completely stock—except for the massive jet tailpipe poking from the trunklid, that is. The car retains its anonymous silver paint and stock wheels. Ahead of the front seats, the black-and-gray interior looks as it did when it came from the factory, save for a collar around the speedo housing the jet-engine gauges (tach, oil pressure, and turbine inlet temperature) and switchgear and a throttle for the jet next to the gear selector. The T58 engine takes up most of the former back seat and trunk, and the hardware that attaches it to the car’s structure is artfully executed.
Worried about how to work it? Don’t be—Patrick has thoughtfully included instructions right in the Craigslist ad. Most important are the three buttons: Cool, Big Fire, and Afterburner. “To light big-fire or the afterburner, you hold a button down and 1/2 second later press the hot-streak button on the floor. Then things happen!” (He had us at “light big-fire. “) Be warned, though—despite a custom-built intake screen to protect against FOD (foreign object debris), apparently the jet engine routinely sucks the rose out of the bud vase.
How fast can you go with a jet-powered car? Patrick doesn’t say. “I don’t know how fast the car will go and probably never will,” he writes on his site about the car. “The car was built to thrill me, not kill me. That doesn’t stop me from the occasional blast on the highway, though.”
Patrick’s site also alludes to another jet-powered project: His wife was annoyed that her Honda Metropolitan scooter tops out at 40 mph, so he was looking at installing a pair of Garrett JFS-100 jets to augment its 49-cc engine. “One engine will get a kart up to 60 mph,” he notes. Mrs. Patrick, some advice: Think very carefully before you divorce this man. Or before you stay married to him. One way or another, be careful.
Ready to own your own jet-powered Volkswagen New Beetle? Yes, well, we’re ready for you to own it as well. Better respond to that Craigslist ad before someone beats you to it.