Jet Powered 2000 Volkswagen Beetle!

And now for something from the “When enough is just right, too much is perfect” department. Back in the ’60s and early ’70s, Chevrolet used the moniker “Turbo-Jet” to refer to their big-block Mark IV engines. Forget about catchy names, here’s ‘da real ting in the form of a jet-powered VW bug! Ready for take-off, this bug is located in Sunnyvale, California and is available, here on craigslist for $550,000 (gulp!). Thanks to AnalogMan for this most unusual tip!

This Volkswagen is a member of the reintroduced Bug, known as the “New” beetle, and was produced between 1998 and 2011. The follow-on, the A5 Beetle continued the trend from 2012 until the model conclusion in 2019. All told, the new and A5 Beetle accounted for 1.7 M copies worldwide, not too shabby!

You may be thinking, “OK, what rocket-scientist came up with this idea?” Well, you’d be right as the seller states that he has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Stanford. The motivation? He states, “I built the car because I wanted the wildest street-legal ride possible. I was able to use some stuff I learned while getting my fancy engineering degree with this project.”  He likes to refer to this project as “Jet Under Glass” in tribute to the Hurst Hemi Under Glass Plymouth Barracudas from the ’60s. The modifications, which are extensive, appear to have been well executed. The seller adds, “The attention to detail in this car borders on obsessive“. Really, other than the very conspicuous jet exhaust/afterburner perched on this bug’s hind-side, it looks like nothing special is going on here. He does mention one external modification in the form of a heat-proof blanket draped over the rear plastic bumper cover to keep it from melting during jet take off.

Now this VW is actually dual engined as the original 1.6 liter, in-line, four-cylinder engine, operating through an automatic transaxle still propels the front wheels. The action, of course, is out back where a General Electric T58-8F jet engine is perched. Rated a 1,350 HP, the engine weighs 300 lbs and operates at speeds up to 26,000 RPM. The seller states that this VW drives like a normal car and adds, “I have no idea how fast the car will go, and probably never will. I built the car in order to thrill me, not kill me. That said, I do enjoy the occasional blast down the highway“. Fueled by kerosene, there is a specialized 14-gallon tank on board to supply the jet, I imagine a full-throttle run empties that tank in a big hurry. The listing includes a multitude of complex details regarding construction and operation, and if are familiar with jet propulsion, you’ll probably find it very interesting.

The interior is an interesting environment, especially owing to having a jet engine in your back-seat with the air inlet right off of your right shoulder. The seller says that air induction for the jet is via the two side windows and the sunroof so it gets a “little windy” inside with the jet running, I bet! There is an auxiliary panel of gauges and switches carefully designed and constructed over the top edge of the instrument panel, along with some console modifications, but beyond that, the interior resembles that of a standard 2000 VW Beetle, one that has been well maintained. The extreme differences are in the backseat and cargo area where the jet and its attendant support structure reside.

The seller asks an obvious question, which he also answers, “Why on Craiglist? Why not? Why a jet Beetle? That’s my primary question too along with why would I spend a half-million to acquire this thing?

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Comments

  1. J_Paul Member

    I can’t help but think of the “rocket powered car” urban legend, where—supposedly—someone strapped a JATO rocket to the roof of his Chevy, with predictable consequences:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JATO_Rocket_Car

    Like 11
    • bowmade
      • John

        And the point of that stunt was what? That you can drive off a ramp and parachute down? Lame.

      • Paul R.

        I just happened to be driving by on old Hwy 2 near Morrisburg , Ontario when I heard the whine of a jet engine, pulled over and got out to watch the Ken Carter jump take place.
        Even though it was a failure, it was surreal to watch, the car broke apart as it left the ramp, front fenders and other bits flying off, parachutes out and landing very hard in a marshy area near the shore, and quite near a farmhouse.
        You don’t forget those images.
        The ramp was there for years after the event.

        Like 2
    • Richard Kirschenbaum

      Yep. That story sure made the rounds. It supposedly earned a Darwin award for the most creative contribution to cleansing the gene pool. This is around the late ’80s

      Like 2
  2. Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

    It’s as if this engineer caught wind of the Yugo with two Cadillac engines in it and said “here, hold me beer”..

    Like 26
    • bobk

      Or my favorite, expressed by my father just before he buried the family wagon in a snowbank so deep that the only way to get out was through the rear hatch.

      “Here, watch this.”.

      LOL.

      Like 7
  3. MattR Member

    What he did with integrating the jet engine is pretty extraordinary. But his big mistake was the car he chose to use this on. He will be hard-pressed to get big money with a VW Beetle jet car vs. a rocket-themed car from the ’50’s with a functional jet engine for example.

    Like 12
  4. angliagt angliagt Member

    Interesting,but will it pass CA smog test?
    I need this for tailgaters around here.

    Like 27
  5. misterlou Member

    I saw this a few years back at Dream Machines in Half Moon Bay. It’s wicked loud.

    Like 4
  6. Steve R

    It may be unique, but good luck trying to find someone willing to shell out $500,000. There are more than a few people that want attention at all costs, but this price will test that theory.

    Steve R

    Like 16
    • stu

      Unique! who cares….This is a waste of time and cash…projects like these are way too personal and always a money pit…this guy would need to find someone just as s—-d as himself interested to buy

      Like 2
  7. Turbo

    Looks like an efficient way to kill yourself

    Like 9
    • RHPetersen

      Coffins avaiable for above.

  8. Steve Clinton

    I had to add a space, spelling it correctly put up a red flag. Ridiculous.

    Like 5
  9. Arby

    Doobie car

    Like 2
  10. Steve R

    Unbridled attention seeking isn’t unique to the wealthy. They just make for an easy target, especially among those wearing their own blinders.

    Steve R

    Like 16
  11. i8afish

    Let’s see, I can buy this, or a 1970 hemi cuda with a matching superbird. Hmmm…

    Like 15
  12. Mike

    Ok, I’m not knocking engineers, but as a pilot this is beyond stupid…

    There is no way you can safely control that. It’s just a huge stupid waste.

    Like 21
    • Mark Member

      And that is not an afterburner, the VW would be airborne in a couple of seconds.

      Like 4
  13. LOUIS W WHITE

    Can you imagine the element of surprise present when a tailgater snuggles up close to your rear and you light off the jet for a millisecond?

    Like 8
  14. Newport Pagnell
  15. Jcs

    Look Mommy! A cute little Beetle has found me and likes me. Can I keep it?

    Like 3
  16. Jcs

    Or Johnny, I suppose that he could ignite thousands of kids imaginations.

    Like 3
  17. That AMC Guy

    I applaud people who put together amazing machines like this.

    It’s his money to do with as he pleases. You could demonize just about any expense not targeted towards helping “the poor”. Why buy that bag of pretzels when you could put it into a fund for kids who need surgery? It’s so selfish to have a hobby car when there are people who can barely afford an old junker to drive to a minimum wage job and kids who need surgery – shame on you collectors and hobbyists! Just look at that awful Jay Leno, how much money he spends on his vast collection when there are kids who need surgery! What awful people!

    Like 4
  18. hatofpork

    Here-Let me light that for you…..

    Like 3
  19. Jay E. Member

    Where the heck did the value come from? T-58 engines are not expensive and as pure jet, they don’t have much thrust, perhaps 50 HP worth.
    The high frequency noise inside would cause serious ear damage, even with hearing protection.
    Perhaps $25K as parts to put into a boat, but without an SDG even that wouldn’t work.

    Like 5
    • Steve Clinton

      I tooled around in one of these and suffered no ear damage…what, did you say something?

      Like 5
  20. Steve Clinton

    Another left-leaning Liberal that wants everyone to conform to their way of thinking. Fortunately, 1984 isn’t here…yet!

    Like 3
    • man ' war

      Well, at least we can still click on the ‘thumbs up here’ and not be blocked from doing so like uh ugh; I won’t mention the web pages that do that on here.

      As far as jet engines go, I used to go to the rear of the Aircraft Carrier, while underway, that I was stationed on to conduct my job at midnight. Sometimes when I got there, they were testing a dismounted jet engine which was a deafening sound. I used to hate it. You had to have double hearing protection to pass through the area.

    • Mark Member

      1984 is coming a helluva lot sooner than you think.

    • 4501 Safari Member

      I had to go look at the calendar. It’s 2020 and has been a year that would make 1984 reach Fahrenheit 451, no jet engine needed.

      Like 1
  21. Superdessucke

    Perfect for the tailgaters around me!

    Like 5
  22. John

    Ever stop to think that they are enjoying a hobby? Maybe one should vegetate? Maybe these people do donate, do you? May they will just pass on everything the own to charity.

    Like 5
  23. Rick

    If I had that kind of money to spend on a car, it certainly would not be on that car.

    Like 2
  24. Paul Jackson Member

    I ran into a guy whose hobby was to use APU turbines to power a hydraulic car! He built a Saab Sonett with the turbine running a pump which powered the car. The citizens of Cambridge Massachusetts probably weren’t amused

    Like 1
  25. Russ Ashley

    When some one does something and then some one else says they could have helped homeless people or helped feed the poor, I always ask them how much have you done to help others. You don’t know how much the guy who built this jet car has given to charities.

    Like 2
  26. Mark Member

    Well, it had to happen. Wonderful engineering. Wasn’t there a Darwin Award given out a number of years ago to a guy who fixed JATO bottles on his ride and ended up 40 or so feet in a rock formation?

    Like 1
  27. Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

    Seems too me it was a tongue in cheek comment from @that AMC guy. Put away the swords fellas.

    Like 2
  28. JerryA

    that is merely a rolling test cell built around an engine. there would be no joy sitting in front of that engine while lighting it off. they are beyond loud. suck, squeeze, bang and blow, indeed.

    Like 2
  29. WCG

    Street legal – seriously??? I think the photo of the exhaust trail debunks that notion. Since when does melting the entire front end of the car behind you when pulling away from a stop light constitute street legal.

    Like 2
  30. JS

    Turbojets are not rated in horsepower. So much for having a Ph.D. from Stanford.

    Like 1
    • Alan

      The T58 is a turbo shaft engine and is indeed rated by shaft horsepower.the T58 has powered several helicopters which include but limited to the H3 and CH46.

      • JudoJohn

        That engine in that car is not a turboshaft turbine. It is a turbo jet engine. It is not the Chinook engine. I think he mis-identified the engine. There is no shaft connection to a transmission.

  31. lbpa18

    After awhile a project like this gains notoriety and a following long before its finished. Amongst those are the outspoken naysayers. It is frequently they that provide the motivation to carry something like this to completion, that to others seems impractical given the expense in both time and money. There is obviously no practical purpose for this. But its cool and certainly unique. If you never flew a jet engine it might be a pretty enticing toy. If you have, the uniqueness and the solving of the engineering challenges might cause you to look at it for awhile, but I suspect the interest would decline after that. I hope it goes to a good home.

  32. Ort

    If this guy were in front of me, melting my headlights, I’d be a little p*ssed.

  33. Karlos

    Looks like a candidate for Jay Leno’s garage. Would certainly add another unique vehicle to his collection.

  34. Bob the “ICE Man”

    I get it a hobby that challenges a person does not have to be practical, just fun and challenging. I am a Marine Engineer specializing in shipboard gas turbine propulsion plants. So this article really caught my attention because the picture of the jet engine shows, what appears to be four stages of a compressor section, with the upper casing removed. Maybe I am missing something? The viewer should not be able to see any blades.

    • JS

      Ice Man, what you see are the rings and levers that drive the variable stator blades.

      Like 2
  35. RetroMojo

    …and this years Darwin award goes to…

  36. JS

    T-58 is indeed a turboshaft engine rated at 1350 shp. But this is not a shaft power engine anymore it is a jet engine. Had he hooked up the shaft and kept the power turbine to drive the rear wheels that would have been at least twice the effort and more interesting.

    Like 1
  37. Tony t

    BS on PhD

  38. Jcs

    Shame it’s an automatic, I’m out. I’ll wait til I find one with a manual.

    Like 1
    • JS

      I’ve got to agree. Moreover why not a 1.9 TDI as well? If I bought this, I’d need to know sign language within the month.

      Like 1
  39. Stan Marks

    $550,000 is a steal. I wonder if he’ll take my personal check????

    This bug doesn’t belong on the highway. It belongs on the launch pad at Cape Kennedy.
    Houston, we have a problem…..,

  40. 3Deuces

    All this engineering, and it retains it’s original bud vase!

    Like 3
  41. Jerry C

    Ok, I’ll be the guy to say it – Only in America! God I love this country…

  42. EJ

    You first.

  43. ICE Man

    Thanks, I am familiar with Allison 501 and GE LM-2500 series along with GE CF-6 frame engines. It must be my crummy vision the compressor VSV rings and linkage in the image just look strange. I honestly appreciate you correcting me.

  44. SDJames

    The screen over the intake is a good idea. Probably don’t want to suck a burger wrapper in there.

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