Rocket Cars Make Better Fireworks

I pointed out this Jet Turbine Powered Toyota MR2 a year ago, but now I’ve discovered Ron Patrick’s Jet Powered VW Beatle. The story is well told in a San Francisco Gate article from April (with bonus video), which describes the builder:

Patrick is a 48-year-old Stanford-trained (Ph.D.) engineer who owns ECM (Engine Control and Monitoring), a Sunnyvale firm that makes electronic instruments used by auto manufacturers to calibrate their engines for performance, fuel economy and emissions. He knows cars. He knows how they work. He’s an animated man who has a seasoned sense of humor, a wry view of the world, mixed with a dash of the absurd and an absolute passion for things like, well, jet-powered cars. (Link added –Casey)

Toyotas, Volkswagons, heck, even wheelchairs, shopping carts, and scooters have seen jet or rocket powered mods (but could that picture look more ridiculous?). Bruce Simpson features a few such contraptions at his site, and a 1995 Darwin Award went to a story about a fool putting JATO rockets on his 1967 Chevy Impala. That story turned out false, but it formed the genesis of this unverified story by a supposed biology teacher, son of junkyard operator, and curious guy with a JATO rocket and crazy friends.

In a little over 25,000 words, the author neatly describes the discovery of the key ingredient (the rockets), the construction of the vehicle (a 1957 Impala body on rails), the event (car runs down rails, big mess), and the aftermath (run, run, run, tell nobody for many years). That the story may wrap up a little too neatly may trouble some, but if I can’t link to rumors or outright fiction at this site, what can I do?

Besides, I’m much more interested in the notion of Patrick’s proposed jet powered scooter.

Aside: the ideal powerplant for projects like this appears to be a General Electric T58 turbine, developed in 1953 and often pulled from helicopters. The Toyota and Volkswagen here both use them. Other options include the JFS 100, as used by Patrick for his scooter and this modified Honda Z Car (hmm, amusing cars, even without jetmods). Finally, let us not forget the excitement of an entirely homemade pulse jet.