Calling Dr. Buckaroo Bonzai: 1976 Bradley GT Boeing TurboJet

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What’s a movie doing in a car review? Well, this car might have come from central casting for one of my favorite movies, The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the Eighth Dimension. The movie – a cross between Battlestar Galactica and Men In Black – rotates breathlessly through a kaleidoscope of escapades involving Dr. Buckaroo Bonzai. With the help of an “oscillation overthruster”, Bonzai journeys through a mountain in his Jet Car, and brings back an alien. After that, I lose the plot. The Jet Car captivates me and I get stuck there. For those of us who would love to own a Jet Car, here on facebook Marketplace is this 1976 Bradley GT powered by a real, live, Boeing 501-118 TurboJet engine. These engines are used in drones, helicopters, and other aircraft. They are very loud, very hot, and very likely fast enough to put you through a mountain – not that you should try. This amazing concoction is available for $18,900. It’s not street legal at the moment and it is sold on a bill of sale only, so plan to trailer it home from Farmington, Minnesota. Barn Finder Grant sent us this otherworldly tip – thanks!

 

The Bradley GT is a fiberglass kit car from the mid-1970s, built on a VW chassis and usually powered by a VW motor. Normally equipped with gullwing doors, this example has been altered to accommodate that huge engine. The seller  – who is the third owner – says he completely overhauled the engine, using …. well, the shop manual. It runs well now, gulping as much Jet A fuel or kerosene as you can pay for.

The engine is controlled by a digital touchscreen, and comes complete with an electronic engine management system. Yes, it has hydraulic brakes including an emergency brake, and the chassis has been restored; the whole vehicle has been carefully stored indoors. The missing title and non-registered status probably mean it hasn’t seen many miles in its life.

The paint and body display a high-quality finish; even the wheels look near-new. A video in the listing shows the car driving a few feet. The seller has taken the car to shows; beyond that, opportunities to use the car seem limited, especially if you live in a city where the car’s decibel level could bring the police to your door in a hurry. If this were my Jet Car, I’d try to register it and stick to local roads, maybe take it to Cars ‘N Coffee. What adventure would you find with this car?

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Comments

  1. Big Bear 🇺🇸

    Wow that’s so freaking cool!!! I remember parts of the movie. I wonder they don’t play on Sci-fi? Where do you get fuel for this? Love how it sounds . That would wake up the neighbors!😂 I didn’t read all those papers in Facebook. I wonder 0-60 time. As long everything works good that’s a great price. Definitely be a hit at the car show! Another dream car for me! Good luck to the next owner.. I will be jealous! 😂🐻🇺🇸

    Like 5
    • Nevadahalfrack NevadahalfrackMember

      Fuel? IIRC, the Y2K jet bike (like Leno’s) used a similar system with JetPropellant4 AKA JP4-available at your better local airports everywhere!

      Like 2
    • Dave in CT

      0-60 time is probably about 5 minutes from the looks of that start he did in the vid. It’s all thrust, through that small pipe out back. Think of a shop vac exhaust. These engines were designed to power a shaft feeding into a transmission that turned a helicopter rotor head. Not thrust. He says the sale includes the shaft drive setup for it too, which would make it actually accelerate similar to an average car.

      Like 1
  2. Roger Winstorff

    Go to hell faster!!!! Driving this, i would consider a suicide attempt….

    Like 4
  3. John M Tavitian

    Remember, “No matter where you go, there you are”

    Like 10
  4. angryjonny

    Where are we going?!

    Planet ten!

    When?!

    Real soon!

    Like 6
  5. Jay E.Member

    There is some serious wishful thinking here. Basically the turbine can only be run at an idle for thrust like in the video. The 60mph claim is fantasy. In order to add fuel to make thrust, you MUST have a load on the output shaft or the turbine will simply over speed. A load in managed through a correlator that adds fuel to maintain output RPM but this is for a constant speed application such as a rotor or generator. It is virtually impossible to correlate with a variable load, such as a car because of hysteresis. In other words, if you push in the clutch, the engine still has full fuel and will over speed due to inherent delay. Interesting idea, completely wrong application.
    You need the resources of a Jay Leno to have custom software designed to make turbine engines work in an automotive application, the load is simply too variable.
    I messed with Solar turbine power in a snowmobile and have a pretty good idea what it entails and I wouldn’t pay 1/10 of the asking price of this.

    Like 9
    • Rumpledoorskin

      Say we connect a turbo encabulator to the output shaft.

      Like 2
      • Neil R Norris

        Just needs a bindelrotor and you’re off to galaxies far far away.

        Like 0
  6. Rich Kennedy

    High heat jet engine. Fiberglass. Extended running doesn’t melt the body? VW chassis designed for that kind of heat? Are these dumb questions?

    Like 4
    • jwaltb

      No. It’s a dumb build.

      Like 4
  7. Lee

    To the moon, Alice!

    Like 3
  8. stembridge

    Marvin Baumann successfully repowered a Ford 8N tractor with a Garrett GTP 30-67 turboshaft out of a military APU. He said the biggest challenge was gearing it down from its 56,000 RPM running speed to about 1,800 RPM. He ended up using a hydrostatic transmission from a New Holland Model 1630 coupled to a wing flap gearbox from a B-52 bomber.

    https://www.hemmings.com/stories/2020/05/07/one-off-turbine-powered-ford-8n-tractor-donated-to-early-ford-v-8-museum

    Somewhere out there is a New Beetle with a second powerplant grafted into the rear seat and hatch area – a General Electric T58 turboshaft jet engine rated at 1,350 HP.

    https://www.motortrend.com/news/jet-powered-vw-new-beetle-for-sale-price-photos/

    I agree with the comments above about the practicality of the install in the Bradley, but it’s cool none-the-less and would definitely turn heads at CnC!

    Like 2
  9. Melton Mooney

    1. Trailer it to cars and coffee.
    2. Start it up to impress the kids and other gearheads.
    3. Insinuate that it’ll run 500 mph with enough open road.
    4. Go sit with friends to avoid the million ‘how fast is it?’ questions you’d otherwise get.
    5. Trailer it home.
    (Don’t forget to phone your liability insurance provider the day before to make sure it’s still covered.)

    Like 4
  10. LotusLoverMember

    My favorite movie also, but I remember the vehicle he drove through the floating mountain as a Ford van; in fact FoMoCo included an article about the van in its corporate newsletter. Seems to me that the Bradley was built to drive slowly onto car show displays and trailer home.

    Like 0
  11. MarkO

    in the video, the car was on a slight incline (downhill).
    The engine might as well been off!
    I’d like to buy it and enter it into the SOAPBOX DERBY!

    Like 2
  12. MarkO

    bring the marshmellows!

    Like 1
  13. George
  14. CrazyDave

    A jet engine on a vw chassis surrounded by fiberglass. What could possibly go wrong.

    Like 5
  15. Kirk

    So basically it’s like every jet powered vehicle you’d see at any truck,car.bike jamboree event ? Really loud big flames and useless super slow with no acceleration. I always have high hopes when they bring out the jet propelled go cart,etc,snowmobile pick up truck etc hoping it’s gonna be somewhat impressive like something being shot from a cannon but it always ends up as exciting as watching a golfcart drive around with big propane torch hanging off the back . Just sad . Now I know there are real jet propelled vehicles like the ‘Blue Flame’ setting land speed records on the salt flats but I’ve yet to see any thing like this or similar size wheeled vehicles do anything but burn a lot of fuel make a lot of noise going nowhere fast unfortunately. Although there was Hooper.. AND that baby blue thunderbird with the little wings that one time.. Not really big successes tho lol

    Like 0
  16. Kirk

    Sorry It wasn’t blue or a thunderbird I believe now it was a canary yellow Lincoln continental . . Same results..

    Like 0
  17. Dale W. Barnhard

    Sayeth the Buckaroo Bonzai!

    Like 0
  18. C Force

    I have a copy of the movie on DVD.I need to watch it tonite,haven’t seen it in a while.That was a Ford truck that Buckaroo drove through the mountain in the beginning of the movie not a van.The car is a neat conversation piece for sure and would be so at any car show you would take it to.

    Like 0
  19. R weimer

    Does anybody want to buy my Bradley that’s still a car lol. $4500. It’s in Colorado and all original.

    Like 0

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