1958 Turbo-Sonic Dragster

Restoration Project by The Guild of Automotive Restorers

I first came upon Turbo-Sonic in a collection of film cars in San Diego California. It was my good fortune to acquire it along with George Barris's Supervan and a number of other interesting custom cars and it has been at the Guild for many years now. I always wanted to restore the car but one of the greatest obstacles facing a restoration was the fact that the engine and v drive were missing. I felt that replacing them with something else would compromise the integrity and historical value of this interesting survivor from the sixties California Hot Rod culture.

This summer I had the good fortune to discover a Turbonique motor in Minneapolis. It was owned by the famous Hollywood stuntman and legendary Rocketeer Ky Michaelson who is better known as quite simply the Rocketman. I travelled to his home and brought the rocket fuelled turbine back with me. Believe it or not less than six weeks later we found exactly the v drive that was used in the car so we now had all the components to begin an accurate restoration.

Turbo-Sonic was created by Dick Dean and others under the auspices of George Barris custom car shop in Hollywood California. It was equipped with the incredibly powerful but dangerous turbine known as the Turbonique. This tiny little motor could produce in excess of 300 HP but that power came from burning rocket fuel and spinning the turbine rotor up to 92 thousand RPM. As you can imagine Turboniques are now incredibly rare as almost every one that was used blew up, some with lethal results.

This is what happened to Turbo-Sonic's engine on its first day at the drag races at Long Beach in the sixties. Happily no one was hurt but no engine was every installed to replace it aside form a halfhearted attempt to use a motorcycle engine which we have removed.

I am looking forward to restoring Turbo-Sonic in the next few months and hopefully we will have a spring finish date. Look for it and the Barris Supervan at a Hot Rod show near you this coming year.

Back to the Previous Page

Go to the Main Projects Page