Sunday, April 30, 2006

Finally, a jet-powered VW Bug

I'd always wondered why none of our local Silicon Valley techies had gotten around to customizing a Volkswagen with a jet engine. Well, at long last one has: Ron Patrick, owner of ECM, a Sunnyvale-based automotive technology firm, has put a quarter-million dollars into attaching a General Electric T58-8F jet engine developing 1450 horsepower to a 2000 VW Beetle. The SF Chronicle provides in-depth coverage of his engineering feat, and I think I smell a Pulitzer in their future - or maybe it's just jet fuel.

While it's illegal to power up the jet engine on California's highways, Patrick admits to having done so on occasion and hasn't been pulled over for it yet. (And I have to wonder if a cop would be able to catch him anyway if he really opened up the throttle.) In addition to the intoxicating speed, he mentions that the deafening sound is a big part of the experience: "Just starting it up, it's like a (Boeing) 747 landing in your front yard."

As to why he did it, the motives are straightforward and most excellent: "The purpose of this car is to have fun and be stupid...This is entertainment. It's a toy, a toy for silly boys."


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