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Supercharged V12! Modified 1939 Chevrolet

It’s not every day you find a supercharged Allison V12 in anything short of a World War II airplane–but finding one in a 1939 Chevrolet was a real surprise! This extremely unusual hot rod is located in Vermontville, Michigan and is offered for sale here on eBay. The opening bid is set at $25,000, which the seller says would just about cover the cost of the engine.

You can appreciate the 4 feet of extra length added to the car in this view. Unfortunately, the constructor of the car died two years ago and it’s being sold by his widow, He did get the car running and put a few road miles on it, but generally transported it to car shows. By the way, that extension is all in steel!

Just look at the size of that engine! The exhaust pipe isn’t small either–I wonder what it sounds like in person! I think I would try to match the front and rear wheels a little better, but that’s a minor detail.

Here’s a close up of that engine. 12 cylinders, 1710 cubic inches, 1200+ supercharged horsepower–wow! The engine was removed from a pulling tractor, and is attached to a Chrysler automatic transmission and a Ford rear end. There are videos on the car here and here if you want to learn more. The first one actually shows the car being driven on the road!

When you have that much engine, you need some serious cooling! This huge radiator and fan setup is in the trunk!

Inside, I’m not sure if the door panels are there with the car or not, but it appears that things have been done to a high standard–at least what has been finished. What do you think about taking on the rest?  Have you ever driven (or flown) a vehicle with this kind of horsepower?


  1. Howard A Member

    Oh for heavens sake. Just another example of “more must be better”. In this case, I fear, is not. The reason, and I’m speculating, they only drove it a few miles and trailer it, is because it’s probably down right dangerous. The Allison V-12 has long been the motor for the “WOW” factor in hot rods, but many found out, it did better at 25,000 feet than on the ground. Fantastic engine, helped win the war, it did, but at 1,400 lbs dry, it was heavy. Anytime you stretch frames to accommodate an engine like this, all kinds of factors come into play, and maybe they found that out. After the war, you could buy Allison engines, brand new for $200 bucks! ( $2,000 bucks today) I’d pass on this monster.

    • RayT Member

      You’re messing with my dreams, Howard! I always wanted to stuff one of these monsters behind the front seats of a VW Microbus (yeah, probably would have had to stretch the body a wee bit). Might have had to reinforce the chassis pan somewhat, too….

      Seriously, the Arfons Brothers did pretty well with Allisons, in drag racing and at Bonneville. That’s a long way from highway use, of course, but the whole thing would almost be worth the effort when you take it down to get its state inspection sticker!

      • Howard A Member
        Can you imagine sitting behind one of these at full throttle?

      • Bruce Best

        The massive torque or these engines has to be seen to be believed. There is a reason you have to advance the throttle on single engine aircraft of this power as the want to rotate about the propeller.

        There must be a video on You Tube of a slow moving Mustang or P-40 where they shove the throttle in too quickly and the airplane rotates very quickly about the propeller.

        RayT this is not a dream it is a nightmare if you wish to really drive it. I suspect that in most states you could never get a license for it either. Torque steer is one thing but torque twisting of the frame is just dangerous.

    • Al Member

      If you can get an Allison V-12 for $2000 buy all you can. Presently on E-Bay there’s one for $37,500. The availability of these monsters starting down hill with the unlimited hydro plane boats and the Air Race circuit.

      • Howard A Member

        Hi Al, that ad, I believe, was from Popular Mechanics dated 1947.

  2. Coventrycat

    The engine definitely has a wow factor, but the superstretch front end gives it a cartoon car look, to me anyway.

    • Dave Wright

      I am sure that is the point……..looks like one of the “specials” built by the guys from Oregon build……..Leno has at least one. It is just a silly fun car. No Howard, you wouldn’t drive it to work…….I had a half dozen of the Packard version of this motor out of PT boats. They were very easy to operate and trouble free. The ones I had were used on large pumps in the Central Valley after being removed from surplus PT boats. They were like jewels, big jewels.

  3. Mike Burnett

    Did these engines operate on aviation kerosine or normal automotive gas? Anyone know?

    • Dave Wright

      Kerosine is like diesel. It will not operate with a spark ignited engine. The military multifuel engines had a carburetor points and spark plugs on one side of the engine and diesel injectors on the other side. They would operate on just about any kind of fuel you could get to it but we’re not a simple task to change over from gas type fuels to diesel type fuels. It took an hour or two by someone that knew what they were doing. We always ran them on Diesel because they had more power with that fuel.

  4. Mike Burnett

    If the engine needs serious cooling, how come in the first video there are no air intakes in the trunk lid? If the rear mounted radiator takes in air from the trunk floor, surely it will suck in hot air from the engine and its exhaust manifolds/ downpipes at low speed?

    • Dave Wright

      Would not be too tough to cool as long as you were idling around.

  5. Wayne

    There’s only one question that needs answering. Why?

  6. rustylink

    there’s no replacement for displacement…..

  7. Alex B

    Not even Jay Leno would want this, I would rather pull the engine out and restore the car. This is a waste of engine and car and looks more at home on a drag strip than the road.

  8. Mark S

    To those of you that are thinking why I say why not! Let’s face it, it can be argued that the whole vintage car hobby Is a big why. Some times in life we service are wants and dreams not just our necessities. So even though the dreamer has passed away at least he lived his dream while he was here. I spent part of my working career custom making industrial machinery it suite very specific applications and based on what I know of that I think I can safely say that this guy was a talented designer and fabricator. To execute such a build is no small challenge, and think of the good times he and his freind had building his car. I tip my hat to the late builder and his freind.

  9. Woodie Man

    You have to, imho, give the late builder his props. I mean to even contemplate a project of this nature takes someone who is willing to follow through on what appears to be counter intuitive. Then to be able to apply the mechanical and functional know how to create it and make it run while simultaneously “head scratching” the innumerable amount of problems that arise….well seems to me that defines ‘Merican Know How. My hat’s off to the builder and I’m sorry he didnt live to finish his project.

    Like 1
  10. Madbrit

    A local guy to me was looking for an Allison and they are in such short supply that anyone who has one is holding on to it. The truck pullers would not sell a spare bolt let alone a complete motor. He was offered a rebuildable (no guarantee) core for $10K.

  11. Morley Member

    To all you nattering nabobs of negativity, all I can say is “what have you built lately”? If you have an idea —go for it. Morley

    Like 1
  12. Amarthfea

    I love the idea and most of this. I find the proportions off a bit to my eye as I would have done it more of a 2 seater style.

    But I really like it. I wish I had the cash for it honestly; give it the artistic touch it needs.

    • Dave Wright

      I like the idea too……;but would rather have that magnificent engine exposed so you could see it…….as well as a 2 seater


    not my cup of tea –a packard liberty v12 in a 1930’s packard chassis and then we will have a ”thoroughbred”-hot rod//

  14. S Ryan

    Looking at pictures it looks to have a small engine mounted in the Trunk. Separate exhaust pipe and small gas can.
    Mad wizardry glad he got to drive it a little after finishing.

  15. kenzo

    People keep asking why….It’s a hobby. Some hunt, some race, my kid does down hill obstacle bike racing on bikes he built himself that are well into four figures. My brother salmon fishes. different boat and motor every 2 years or so. I asked him why different boats and gear. “it’s a hobby” Over his fishing life he figured his salmon cost him a $100 + a pound. The build looks great. This is the similar to the Bronco/Fiesta. The pure joy of the challenge and pleasure of accomplishment.

  16. Jim Benjaminson

    Can’t help but wonder, how do you steer that thing, with all that weight out on the front wheels – must be a bear cat with apologies to Stutz!

  17. Bill Wilkman

    The execution is awkward at best, horrid at worst. Another example of what happens when someone has too much time/money and not enough brains.

  18. Rustytech Member

    This was surely a fun project, and hats off to the builder for even attempting it, let alone completing it. The problem with extreme customs like this is trying to find a buyer with the same dream. Personally I restore vehicles to drive and show them, I don’t see driving this much. If the engine is indeed worth $37,500 I would sell it and use the money to build a stupendous street or resto mod that I could driver regularly, and enjoy.

  19. Rustytech Member

    Howard. I just watched t u-tube video. WOW that was cool! I have no idea what all the thumbs downs were about. Sensitive ears I guess. I couldn’t believe those guys were standing behind that thing, in an enclosed garage. Bet there all wearing hearing aids today.

  20. G 1

    Good thing the best parts used are in the drive line.

  21. Brakeservo

    When I was a kid, there was a guy in North Hollywood who built a “car” by placing a stretched Isetta body on one of these engines, he also installed one in an old White Cabover Garbage truck. I think he had a third Allison powered car but I don’t remember what it was. Leno has a Rolls with a RR Merlin V12 and I know there’s at least one (or more) “Bentleys” with the Merlin V12 out there some where. A few years ago Rustle & Steal had a Merlin V12 at their Monterey auction and a few years before Bonhams had an Allison V12 powered car at their Scottsdale auction. I’ve seen Leno’s car and the two auction cars.

    • Dave Wright

      I was thinking of this one…….

      Like 1
  22. Bill Orr

    I wish I had half the ability of your husband, the vision he had to imagine a project of this complexity, and the talent and determination to carry it out. This is not about how much an Allison engine is worth, how heavy is the steering, should it be a two door or four. It is a statement, a work of art and a testament to your husband’s talent. He must have been a very special guy and I am sorry for your loss.

  23. Bryan Cohn

    Why so much disrespect for a man’s skill, interest, desire, and accomplishment?

    Our hobby seems intent on eating itself from the inside by the older generations of who rant on and on about ugly this and stupid that, instead of having simple decency and respect for the work and effort of others.

    This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have opinions but how about constructive input rather than insults and tearing up a fellow enthusiast?

    Everyone complains that there are no young enthusiast. They are wrong of course, Just look at the sold out Gridlife events for 201 as but one example.

    More importantly, would young you want to hang out old cranky judgemental you?

    I like cars. I like people who like cars. I love the creativity of this crazy build. We should all be so lucky to have the skills to pull this off.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Bryan, oh, the optimism of youth. Of course were old and crabby, and every one of us truly respects this persons creativity. A more accurate description of us, is we’re really kind of bummed, because for what ever reason, we can’t do this kind of stuff anymore, and quite frankly, it pisses us off that our time has passed. We’ve all done projects, not this extreme, some better than others. And you’e spot on, what younger person wants to hang out with someone that has a website : Everything stinks
      Like Rustytech sez, rarely do you find someone with the same visions as the builder, and we can only think of a better way to use that engine and car, for that matter. I’m glad you are into cars, it’s quite refreshing to hear. Remember, take what us old farts say with a grain of salt. That’s what we did.

  24. Amarthfea

    I was interested in seeing how far off the bidding was and unfortunately this isn’t going to go low (well for me anyways)

    I found the craigslist add and it looks like they want $180,000 USD for it. But rich for my blood but maybe perfect for someone else.

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