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Archive of posts published in the category: Beetle
Apr
12

Jet Beetle

This is my street-legal jet car on full afterburner. The car has two engines: the production gasoline engine in the front driving the front wheels and the jet engine in the back. The idea is that you drive around legally on the gasoline engine and when you want to have some fun, you spin up the jet and get on the burner (you can start the jet while driving along on the gasoline engine). The car was built because I wanted the wildest street-legal ride possible. With this project, I was able to use some stuff I learned while getting my fancy engineering degree (I have a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University) to design a street-legal jet car without the distraction of how other people have done it in the past – because no one has. I don’t know how fast the car will go and probably never will. The car was built to thrill me, not kill me. That doesn’t stop me from the occasional blast on the highway though.

The car is licensed here in California. In California, new cars have bi-annual smog inspections so if you modify the engine, it is likely to fail the inspection and you won’t be able to drive it on the street. There are some exempt engine modifications (ex. after-cat mufflers – big deal) but none that will allow you to add 1350 hp to a new car.


Car was built to look as if VW delivered the car this way. It handles fine and is safe. I was thinking of putting it into an import car show but the promoter told me that it looked too plain and recommended that I put some decals on it, lower it, and put on some aftermarket wheels. Sure kid, put on some flimsy wheels won’t take a curb and don’t center on the hubs, lower the car so the tires rub and get cut by the body using springs that bounce me all over the road, and advertise for companies that couldn’t engineer themselves out of a paper bag. I would have thought the 14″ diameter tailpipe was enough for him but I guess it wasn’t. Response from the hot rod magazines has been slow. One editor told me that is because I didn’t use anything they advertise. But the response to driving it on the street and going to the hot rod shows (San Francisco Custom Car Show, Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, and the Detroit Autorama) has been fantastic. This car attracts crowds better than any ’32 Ford, ’69 Camaro, or decaled Honda.


The Beetle was chosen because it looks cool with the jet and it shows it off well. Remember the Hurst wheelstanding Barracuda “Hemi Under Glass”? Well, this is “Jet Under Glass”. Air for the jet enters the car through the two side windows and the sunroof. It’s a little windy inside but not unbearable.


The production hatch release switch on the driver’s door