A beautiful replica of one of drag racing’s most notable cars will be up for sale at Mecum’s Kissimmee sale in January 2020. The four-engine Showboat dragster replica, commissioned in 2007 by Tommy Ivo, the owner and driver of the 1960s original, is a faithful recreation of the kooky, tire-frying slingshot.
“TV” Tommy Ivo earned his nickname from his prolific acting career, taking roles in movies and television since he was eight years old. As much as he enjoyed the camera, his real passion was cars. He bought a new car before he was old enough to drive, kicked off the T-bucket trend, helped launch the career of Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, and was one of the first drivers to record a 7-second elapsed time in the quarter-mile.
Aside from his various racing achievements, Ivo was also known for his showmanship and creativity. He toted his various drag cars in trailers with huge windows so that fellow travelers could see the hot rod that was inside as he barnstormed across the U.S.
After the success of his twin-engine dragster, that used twin Buick Nailhead V-8s, Ivo decided that a four-engine dragster would have to be even quicker. The original Showboat was built with help from Mickey Thompson, who likely had more experience with multi-engine vehicles than anyone, considering his quad-Pontiac-powered Challenger I had clocked in at 406 mph at Bonneville in 1960.
The twin Nailheads on the driver-side—the dragster’s driver seat is center-mounted, but you catch our drift—are linked together and are facing backward. They power the solid quick-change front axle. The passenger-side pair power the rear axle. With 32 throttle bores cracked open and 32 mechanical injectors pouring in fuel, the quad Nailheads belch out a continuous roar of exhaust.
The original Showboat was immediately banned from competition by the NHRA, but Ivo was free to use it in exhibition runs, where it would warm up with epic four-wheel burnouts. If you’ve got the guts to try it, there are plenty of nostalgia meets that would love to showcase it making some hair-raising passes. Ivo could probably even give you some pointers on driving. And tips on trailer construction—you’ll need it.