John Dodd’s ‘Beast’ with an airplane engine goes up for auction for the first time

John Dodd’s ‘Beast’ with an airplane engine goes up for auction for the first time

What’s with eight headlights, four taillights, a weird greenhouse, overdone bodywork punctuated by ridiculous side vents, and an eccentric owner freaking thrill? It is, of course, famous in Family Truckster national lampoon Holiday Movies. However, it could also describe the most outstanding vehicle pictured above, which is called “The Beast”. Hitting British roads eleven years before the Holiday hit theaters in 1983, its unusual proportions and 19-foot length are partly explained by the 27-liter Rolls-Royce Meteor V12 engine stuffed under the hood. The Meteor was a naturally aspirated version of Rolls-Royce’s turbocharged Merlin engine; The Meteor served in British tanks and armored vehicles, the Merlin surprisingly served most famously in the Supermarine Spitfire aircraft.

The Beast isn’t armored, but it probably qualifies as a tank. A gentleman named Paul Jameson began a personal project in the late 1960s to fit the largest engine available in a car. Military surplus stores stocked a more esoteric selection at the time, with Jameson picking up the Meteor V12 for £20. He built a box chassis for the car he planned around it, then liaised with automatic transmission specialist John Dodd to get the power on the ground. Dodd selected a GM TH400 for this purpose. But before Jameson was finished, he sold the rolling chassis to Dodd.

Dodd had an outfit called Fiberglass Repairs Build a Body, the original one is red in color which is actually quite fiery. Being the owner of a Rolls-Royce, he insisted on the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Grille with a sense of ecstasy. He went on to explain the rest of the car to the BBC, “The idea was to have a car that could beat anything on earth and at the same time run on the cheapest petrol.” At various periods of the car’s life, it was claimed to produce anywhere from 550 to 1,000 horsepower. Cars & Classic says it now makes about 750 hp at the flywheel. Regardless of contemporary numbers, this was enough to bring The Beast up to a certified top speed of 183 mph in 1973, and for Guinness Book of World Records in 1977 to certify The Beast as “the most powerful car in the world”. And Dodd must have been eager for cheap gas, as the Meteor V12 gets two (2!) miles per gallon.

When Fire claimed the car on the way back from a show in Sweden to The Beast, Dodd asked a fiberglass repairman to piece the current shape back together. The gumbo of components includes a windshield from a Jensen FF, a backlight from a Reliant Scimitar, and headlights and taillights all from two Ford Caprices. Front suspension is sourced from an Austin, the rear is supported by a heavy-duty Curry axle from a Jaguar XJ12. Inside, a pair of Lotus Elan seats placed the occupants before a row of red toggle switches used to start the Meteor. The weight balance is claimed to be 55:45; If that’s true, it’s only because The Beast is about six inches longer than a 1972 Cadillac Eldorado.

The Rolls-Royce grille eventually gave way to a generic unit with the manufacturer’s initials after Rolls-Royce sued Dodd over misuse of the automaker’s trademark and won.

Dodd passed away in December last year. His passion project car and classic with a little over 10,000 miles and in “extremely original condition” is going up for auction. Bidding begins on March 9 and runs for a week.

Related Video:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *