- Aug 5, 2008
P-51-engined Cramer Comet goes on the block at Pebble Beach
There are hot rods, there are hot rods, and then there's "Um... what is that?" Tom Cramer, an ex-GI and mechanic in Omaha says, "I wanted to see what would happen if you put a really high powered engine in a chassis." Sound familiar? That was in 1953. So he found a fresh 12-cylinder 1,710-cubic-inch Allison airplane engine that produces 1,350-hp/1,500 ft-lb and got to work.
The body of the Cramer Comet was Frankensteined from De Sotos, Dodges, Oldsmobiles, Buicks, Studebakers, Cadillacs, Lincolns, and Fords. Part of the tubular chassis is made up of four-inch refrigerator tubing filled with coolant that runs to a rear-mounted radiator. The engine is mounted in reverse and is heavily insulated -- it gets hot in there. Power is sent through a drive shaft mounted between two truck universals and on to a four-speed transmission. The top speed is said to be 160 MPH, which is low for so much power, but probably sensible considering it's hand built.
Check out that center console. To start the car, the driver (pilot?) sets the throttle quadrant to ten-percent, cranks the fuel mixture to full rich, turns the spark lever to retard, flips the master switch, turns the magnetos on, turns the fuel boost and primer switches on, flips the starter control first to energize and then to on. And then it's time to fly, hopefully not in the literal sense.
Tom didn't get rid of the car until 1991 and it's now up for auction for the first time at this year's Sport & Classics of Monterey held by RM Auctions August 15 and 16. It's expected to fetch up to $300,000. Even if you don't plan to buy, you should check out the gallery of high-res photos below for evidence of how powerful elbow grease is.