Buy This 27-Liter Merlin V12-Powered, Street-Legal Fiberglass Legend From the ’70s

Underneath that absurdly long hood is an engine sourced from a friggin' tank.

Many cars claim to be a beast although just a few have a resume to back it up. This 1972 Rolls-Royce-ish plants its flag as “The Beast” so hard it’s right there on the name. This beige-on-beige-on-beige masterpiece is heading to auction to find a new home, and hopefully, one with a very long garage to contain its very long snout. 

The Beast was the creation of John Dodd, who died last December at 90 years old. The automotive engineer and transmission maker constructed the car using a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine plucked from a military application to power his Beast, all 27 liters and 12 cylinders of glory. The result was an “estimated” 750 horsepower, although the Beast hasn’t ever set foot on a dyno. What you see here isn’t the first Beast, either. Dodd bought the first Beast after he helped to craft a transmission for it, which burned on the way home from a trip in Sweden. The rebodied version is what you see here, and it’s longer than its predecessor if that’s at all possible. 

This Beast once famously and litigiously wore a Rolls-Royce snout, which you can see has been removed and replaced with John Dodd’s initials after courts ruled against him. (It still says “Rolls-Royce” on the registration, so checkmate.) The interior is no less resplendent than Rollers of the time, although it’s far smaller than a car with a football-field-sized footprint should have. There are two doors, two seats—in beige no less—with a long cargo area. (So, technically a shooting brake?) There’s a sculpted dash that looks like 1971 vacuformed. It’d be hard to imagine airbags anywhere in the car—they may not be needed if the hood is technically one county ahead of the passengers—but it appears there’s some padding on the dash and a bank of switches with no clear indication of what any of them do. 

The internals are absurd, albeit interesting. Behind the vainglorious Meteor V12 is a GM three-speed automatic that shifts through a heavy-duty Currie rear axle. A staggered wheel setup covers four-wheel disc brakes, which is good because the Beast managed 183 mph in a top-speed run in 1977. Just an observation: The five-lug wheels don’t inspire a lot of confidence for the power and speed, but I’m no expert.

But I can confidently spot a winner when I see one, and the Beast is one such winner. It was certifiably the most powerful car on the planet in 1977 and it can also be yours. 

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