Roughly two years ago, as part of his effort to completely break down the history of everything Volkswagen Beetle, Torch drafted a post referencing a rocket-turbine-powered Bug with north of 750 horsepower.
We just wanted to remind you that that's Hellcat-shaming batshit insane. And that Turbonique, the folks behind it, strapped their rockets to even batshit insane-ier vehicles.
(But honestly, tell me you've never thought about building a rocket-powered go-kart.)
Mail-order performance parts manufacturer Turbonique was founded in 1962 by Gene Middlebrooks, an employee of defence subcontractor Martin responsible for work on the Pershing ballistic missile, a medium-range solid-propellant rocket.
The guy in charge of the factory that built them, Edward Uhl, had invented the bazooka. The factory was based in Orlando, Florida.
Explosives, rocketry, firepower, Florida: what other elements need to be present in the genesis of a really bad idea? Oh yeah—a gearhead.
Middlebrooks was certainly one of those. A respected mechanical engineer, he tinkered at home with the idea of self-powered superchargers, including a battery-operated forced induction turbine—today, Audi is just on the cusp of bringing a commercial version of this idea to market. However, in the 1950s, batteries were too heavy, so Middlebrooks needed something else as a source of power.
What to do? He sat at his work bench in the rocket factory, tapping his pencil idly on a blank sheet of paper. In the rocket factory. Where there are rockets.
If you want to find out more about Middlebrooks and exactly how crazy he was, we get into the history of Turbonique over at Autofocus.ca.