It’s an idea worthy of The Wacky Races, those cartoons of yesteryear, but in real life: In the mid-1960s, a British duo wondered what might happen if they drove an airplane engine in a carand to find an answer it seemed to them that the best thing was to get to work and make it.
The result was The beast –La Bestia, in Spanish–, a vehicle that for practical purposes doesn’t make much sense, but which is undoubtedly a unique piece that these days will be auctioned off in search of a new owner.
It’s that Paul Jameson and John Dodd’s creation, to begin with, isn’t the most efficient of all: the engine that drives it is a 27-litre Rolls-Royce Merlin V12 which requires an estimated consumption of 100 liters for every 100 kilometers travelled. Obviously he’s not very quiet either, not to mention how much a visit to the lab can cost.
It makes sense, of course: these blocks were intended to equip numerous fighter planes and bombers during WWII. And a supercharged variant, called the Meteor – the one used initially by The Beast – has also been widely chosen to mount war tanks.
Yes, handling it is a unique experience. And the truth is that she also knew how to make history: in her glory days entered the Guinness Book of Records for its power close to 1,000 HP, with which it was also very close to reaching a top speed of 295 km/h.
Naturally, an engine of this caliber required much more space under the hood than a conventional one. That’s why Jameson, who was the one who started this story, prepared a specially designed frame for the occasion. And to resolve the issues related to the transmission, he turned to Dodd, who then ended up taking over the project.
When ordering the body, which was originally made of fiberglass and red, the new leader had no better idea honor Rolls-Royce, and for this he asked to affix a grille and other typical decorations and insignia of the English brand on it. An idea that obviously didn’t go down well with the Goodwood offices: when they found out, they forced the Court to remove all those iconic elements.
With a huge trunk to accommodate such an engine, The Beast saw the light in 1972and quickly gained public notoriety in Europe, with a television presence and appearances across the continent.
But it was on one of those trips, to Sweden in 1975, that the car broke down and caught fire, forcing it to undergo an almost total restoration: new engine – that’s where the Meteor was replaced by the Merlin -, new mustard colour, took the ‘air on the bonnet, changes to the front fenders such as the front optics, the four rear lights and other details that made it the car it is today.
The Beast, in fact, was never the type to rest in the garage for long, and one was very often seen on the street: currently it runs without major problems, and in fact it was the car with which Dodd drove around Marbella every day – He moved in Spain after the Rolls-Royce complaint, in fact – until the day of his death, last December.
With no other owners in its history – other than that it was in the name of other Dodd relatives -, LThe Beast was auctioned by Car & Classic’s on March 9, in an online-only auction that will last seven days and for which the reserve price has not been revealed.
Ben Stock is a journalist working for News Rebeat, where he covers the automobile section. With a passion for cars and the industry, Ben brings insightful and in-depth reporting to his readers.