Special Station Wagon with Airplane Engine Angers Rolls-Royce, Fetches High Price at Auction
In addition to “The Beast,” an official limousine used by the President of the United States, another impressive vehicle has captured the attention of car enthusiasts. This vehicle, known as the “Beast,” features a custom-made car chassis mounted with a tank engine – the Rolls-Royce Meteor engine with a displacement of 27 liters, which was in poor condition at the time of its selection.
The car’s gearbox was designed by John Dodd, who purchased the vehicle from its creator, Paul Jameson, before it was completed. The fabrication work was carried out by Fiber Glass Repairs.
Upon completion in 1972, Dodd took his creation on tour, and in 1975, while returning from a car show in Sweden, the “Beast” caught fire. Fortunately, Dodd had insurance and the chassis remained intact. He decided to replace the engine with another Rolls-Royce engine, this time from an aircraft: the 27-litre Merlin V12, which was used to power British Spitfire fighter jets.
The “Beast” features a conservative design, with a Rolls-Royce radiator grille featuring the “Spirit of Ecstasy” mascot, and a hood and flanks that are relatively uncomplicated. The vehicle’s rear side windows resemble those of an early Ford Capri, and the car has a sedan-coupe configuration.
The “Beast” was recently sold at auction for a high price, much to the chagrin of Rolls-Royce. The vehicle’s airplane engine and unique history make it a one-of-a-kind machine that continues to captivate car enthusiasts to this day.
Now with the Shooting Brake body
Fiberglass Repair was contracted to undertake the design and production of a novel tool. The team, under the leadership of designer and engineer Bob Phelps, created a vehicle that combined the front of an American road cruiser with the back of a Volvo Snow White coffin, resulting in a shooting brake of dubious nature. However, it is the intricate design elements that render this colossus unique. For instance, it boasts eight long-lasting lights, hoods, and air vents on the hinged front hood and front fenders. The vehicle also features side pipes, filigree, and curved lines along the side’s characteristic line, four rear lights that are typical of the Ford Capri, and only a single mirror on each side.
At Rolls-Royce, however, the association of their luxury brand with this subpar vehicle was far from amusing. The vehicle was even registered as a Rolls-Royce product in the car registration document, which remains the case to this day. This led to a highly publicized legal dispute in the early 1980s, which resulted in Dodd being prohibited from using the Rolls-Royce brand name for his “Beast.” Dodd ignored the verdict and refused to pay the fine, resulting in a six-month prison sentence.
Dodd, who passed away in December 2022 at the age of 90, relocated to Spain, or rather fled, and never served his prison sentence. He subsequently acquired a car shortly before his Rolls-Royce emblem was confiscated or stolen in England. The exact date when “The Beast” lost its Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow grille that had been installed after the fire is unknown. The initials of John Dodd are now displayed in a simple, closely meshed grid. It is alleged that Dodd regularly drove his strange vehicle around his new residence in Malaga.
Dodd employed Austin Westminster components for the front suspension and steering, while the rear part was derived from the Jaguar XJ12’s independent suspension. However, this was replaced with solid axles from the specialist Currie shelf, coilover suspension, and reinforced drive shafts. The front brakes are from Jaguar.
The interior of the vehicle features a row of red switches that initiate the Merlin V12’s starting sequence. There is a spacious cargo area behind the two bucket seats, and the entire interior is upholstered. Instead of a rearview mirror, a small filter displays the rearview camera’s image. The dashboard and steering wheel are specifically designed for “The Beast.” The vehicle’s customization is extensive, leaving little that is not tailor-made.
Anything between 700 and 760 hp
As per contemporary media reports, the “Beast” is said to possess approximately 700 to 760 horsepower. By comparison, a current powerplant such as the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S 4-Matic+ T-model only boasts 612 horsepower. It is, therefore, unsurprising that this vehicle made it into the Guinness Book of Records in 1977 as the most powerful legal vehicle in the world. Additionally, the reported fuel consumption of 141 liters per 100 kilometers is also a record-breaking figure. The maximum speed of the “Beast” is stated to be 294.5 km / h. However, its creator, John Dodd, always envisioned it as a street car rather than a drag racing vehicle.
Recently, “The Beast” was put up for sale for the first time in its 57-year history. Online auction house Car & Classic auctioned the car, and it fetched a price of £72,500, currently equivalent to around €82,600, or €3,060 per liter of transfer. The car is said to be in excellent original condition, with 10,685 miles (approx. 17,200km) on the clock according to the display. Moreover, it is roadworthy and has a blessing of a UK MOT.
Tom Wood, head of Car & Classic, remarked ahead of the auction that “Contemporary car enthusiasts will know immediately what a classic example of automotive heritage we are talking about here.” He described it as a unique opportunity and expressed hope that the new owner would continue to use and enjoy the car, just as John Dodd had.
Regarding the opinion poll, some might say that in these uncertain times, the weirder, the better, while others might argue that the only crazy thing is that someone would want such a thing.
In conclusion, among Dodd’s automotive creations, “The Beast” is undoubtedly the most impressive. The story of the car and its builder is so rich in eccentricity, absurdity, and drama that it would undoubtedly make excellent material for a film. Nonetheless, the “Beast” has found its way into the hands of a collector who respects John Dodd’s legacy at a reasonable price, resulting in a happy ending.