Sometimes you happen upon the sight of something that resists all sense and sanity, a material phenomenon defying attempts to settle on a single, definable emotion. Today, that sight is Thor24, which is what would result if Optimus Prime had starred in "The Joker" instead of Joaquin Phoenix. The backstory is summed up as property developer Mike Harrah getting one of those "Because I can" ideas that started with a 1979 Peterbilt 359, and soon involved an engine that would come to be nicknamed "Big Mike." As Automobile explains, that engine is actually two 12-cylinder Detroit Diesel 12V71 two-stroke engines joined nose-to-nose, with a combined displacement of 1,704 cubic inches or 27.9 liters, and more than 3,400 horsepower. It took seven years and $7 million to build, which is merely the beginning.
Harrah said he got a call from a man in Long Beach trying to get rid of two of those DD engines that had been used to power a 300-foot yacht. Harrah was so taken with the monstrous motors that he bought them both on the spot. A year later, he said he conceived a truck "that was unlike anything else in the semi-truck world."
He designed an intake manifold to feed air to both engines, those 12-cylinder units connected nose-to-nose by a splined crankshaft. The custom aluminum intake supports eight BDS 871 superchargers that feed compressed air to four more 871 superchargers housed between the cylinder banks. Yes, that's a total of 12 superchargers, and in case they didn't get enough attention, the triplicate butterflies on the eight top-mount superchargers spell out the word "BIG." The blowers run off a single driveshaft that's 103 inches long and weighs 263 pounds, the shaft routed through the intake manifold that itself weighs 1,000 pounds. And since the blowers clearly wouldn't provide enough power, Harrah installed eight nitrous oxide bottles between the middle bank of superchargers. Twenty-four zoomie headers send waste gasses out a pair of chromed stacks. Harrah claims that at 2,500 rpm, Thor24's eight-foot-tall powerplant throws 3,424 horsepower. An Allison HT740 transmission shunts what must be unholy gobs of torque to the rear axle. For comparison, the stock, turbocharged 12V71 engine produced 525 hp at 2,100 rpm and 1,450 pound-feet of torque at 1,600 rpm, while a stock, turbocharged 16-cylinder 16V71 engine made 800 hp and 2,150 lb-ft.
With the help of builders Tim Spinks and Paul Abram and project management of Steve Huff, Harrah spent years building each custom part of Thor24 in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. There's video of the engine running in 2010, the singular showpiece among the many showpieces adorning all 44 feet of Thor24.
Of those 44 feet, 40 feet is a pair of chromed 4x14-inch steel beams with walls 3/8-inch thick. Harrah swiped the A-arm suspension and steering gear from a VanHool coach for the front end, in order to shrink the turning radius. A Peterbilt Air Leaf suspension supports the rear end. The extra four feet of length is in front, an enormous grille recalling the 1933 Ford coupe or a modern International Lonestar.
The cab was widened and stretched to fit two more doors. The gauge cluster runs across the entire instrument panel to make room for more than 24 gauges, including six blower pressure readouts, a 200-mile-per-hour speedo, and a 6,000-rpm tachometer. Four cameras at the front of the truck pipe images to four 4x6-inch display screens mounted above the windshield so the driver can see what's on the road ahead. The black leather headliner and upholstery contrasts with the chromed walls and dash and gray carpet. The front passenger's door opens like a Lamborghini door, the shifter is a broadsword. A Hawker Jet Helicopter engine acts as an auxiliary generator powering features like a 40-inch television and 1,500-watt audio system. Since Thor24 weighs 30,000 pounds and the truck's brakes are nowhere near able to slow down that kind of mass quickly, four Simpson drag parachutes line the back chassis crossmember.
And did we mentioned the Candy Red paint, flames, and vampiric Thor mural on the back of the cab, the working sunroof, or the horns above and below the tractor? Yeah, so there's that.
We applaud Harrah for his work, at the same time as we think it would make more sense for Pennywise the Clown to show up in this than in a sewer. Word is that Thor's about to get a sister named Medusa, this time tuning the double-up 12V71 engine for drag racing duty.