Catch George Barris’ turbine-powered, 1300-hp dragster while you can
If you think it’s a little early to be talking about Mecum’s 2022 Kissimmee Auction, then you haven’t seen the amazing 1964 Turbosonic Custom Dragster scheduled to cross the block in January. We can hardly contain ourselves. Neither can the dragster.
The Turbosonic, built by legendary Barris Kustom Industries, looks more like a rocket than a car, and its powertrain tells a similar story. Designed by George Barris, Les Tompkins, Dick Dean, and Tom Daniels, the three-wheel dragster is powered by a 1300-horsepower Turbonique micro-turbine you could buy from the classified ad pages of 1960s magazines. Seriously.
What was it like to add turbine power to a street car? Scary. Benjamin Hunting once wrote that installing a Turbosonic was like “strapping a rocket engine to the back of your car, filling it with a magical mail-order fuel, and then lighting its 1300-horsepower fuse.” Even Turbonique acknowledged in an ad that a Turbonique-powered Volkswagen Beetle reached 183 mph before going airborne and crashing. Thankfully, driver Roy Drew walked away unharmed.
It seemed that the only thing holding back the Turbonique engine was the car in which it was installed. So Barris went to work. His Delta V-shaped drag car has an alloy frame and a body made of fiberglass and aluminum, and it features four stabilizer wing flaps, Airheart disc brakes, and a parachute.
Painted in flame-like Pearl Yellow, gold, tangerine, red, and Wild Cherry, the Barris Turbosonic sold for $29,700 at Barrett-Jackson’s 2016 Scottsdale Auction. Do you have the wallet—and the guts—to buy this turbine-powered beast? We suggest you don’t sit on it. Not without a four-point harness, anyway.