I thought this was a joke at first, then he fired it up and sure enough the car has a jet engine poking out the back. I wonder how much fuel he can
carry with it. I would hate to be behind that thing on the highway, the front of your car could melt.
Here's an article on the jet engine VW beetle SFgate
"You drive the car up to about 90 miles an hour and you
spool up the jet, then hit it W.O.T. (wide-open throttle)," he said, fondly recalling one of his rides. "It's one of the finest feelings you can
have in your life. In the rear view mirror, all you see is light and hear the thunder of the jet. It's like you're going down the largest hill
you've ever been on."
He said that a jet-boosted run will "pin the speedometer and that's at 140." He thinks that when it hits 160 mph -- he hasn't seen that ... yet --
the car will start lifting off the ground, but "the fun is not necessarily how fast you want to go. The fun is the sound of the thing. Just starting
it up, it's like a (Boeing) 747 landing in your front yard."
The Navy surplus General Electric T58-8F is that menacing, giant cigar-like item sticking out of the VW's hatchback.
When he fires it up, standing next to it is a bit like standing next to one of the engines of a Boeing 737 or an Airbus A320 while the thing is about
to back off from the gate.
This, however, is a Volkswagen bug with a 1,450-horsepower jet engine sticking out the back, idling away at 13,000 RPM.
It's a perfectly street-legal VW, too, with current California registration and smog-approved gas-burning front engine made by Volkswagen.
It's just this humongous big thing projecting 23 inches rearward from the hatchback that makes it different from any other bug. The "thing" is what
Patrick describes as "essentially a baby Lear jet engine, a couple steps down from the engine on an F4 Phantom."
Patrick bought what was originally a $600,000 engine and Arfons boxed it up and shipped it to Sunnyvale so Patrick could start his project.
In 2000, Patrick bought a new VW bug. He had visited various car dealers with a full-sized cardboard mock-up of the jet engine, opening and closing
the rear doors of car after car (lots of station wagons and hatchbacks) to see which one would accommodate the jet engine best. The VW won.
As Patrick pointed out, however, when you're building this kind of car you don't just open up the back of the VW, ram the engine in and hope for the
"Instead of cut and try, cut and try, cut and try, like the hot rod guys do, you have to do a whole bunch of computer analysis before you build it,"
he said. "We did (computerized) structural analysis and we did stability analysis. And by God, you know what happens? It works! Duh."
The project took four years to complete and in its finished state it is clean enough to perhaps give even Volkswagen a bit of jet envy. Various
braided steel conduits flow smoothly over the engine and down into the car's bowels. The engine is anchored to the car's inner walls and frame by a
number of sturdy struts. Behind the passenger seat is a bright red tank for the Halon fire extinguishing system, used in some aircraft.