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Car & Classic’s Best: The Beast, “the world’s most powerful car” in 1977, heads to auction

posted on 08/03/2023
Car & Classic’s Best: The Beast, “the world’s most powerful car” in 1977, heads to auction

The ultimate expression of British engineering endeavour, creativity and ingenuity, John Dodd’s The Beast is being offered for sale by auction through Europe’s largest classic car marketplace,

In highly original condition, 19ft long and powered by an ex-aircraft 27-litre Merlin engine, the car’s legendary history is wholly intertwined with that of its creator, John Dodd, who passed away aged 90, in December 2022. 

The Beast’s rolling chassis, however, started life in 1966, built by Paul Jameson as a road-going car originally powered by a 27-litre Meteor Rolls-Royce engine. John Dodd, who built the car’s gearbox, eventually acquired and sent it to Santa Pod Raceway owners Fibre Glass Repairs to be bodied. It was then that it gained a Rolls-Royce grille and mascot, in a nod to the engine’s provenance. 

Even fire couldn’t put an end to such a project, as – when The Beast was damaged whilst coming back from Sweden – Dodd simply decided to improve on the original concept: a new V12 Merlin engine was acquired and fitted (the same unit powering The Beast today) and a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow grille was added. A legal court battle could not put a stop to Dodd, who may have fled after losing his case against Rolls-Royce (who objected to the brand name being used for The Beast), only to have the car join him later on in Spain, where it was kept in regular use. Ironically, the V5 still lists The Beast as a Rolls-Royce. 

A custom interior includes a bank of red switches which are used to initiate the starting sequence for the Merlin engine. The front suspension uses Austin elements whilst the rear is derived from a Jaguar XJ12 and sports a heavy-duty Currie axle. 

The heart of The Beast is its naturally-aspirated V12 Merlin engine which reportedly delivers around 750bhp at the flywheel. In 1973 the RAC recorded the car at a top speed of 183 mph. The Guinness Book of Records listed it as the most powerful road car in the world in 1977. Fuel economy won’t break any records however at a reported two mpg. 

“Car & Classic was the logical choice for the first sale of The Beast in its 50-year history” says Car & Classic CEO Tom Wood. “Our online auction is now the largest in the UK and the site attracts millions of people monthly. Not that this car will need much promotion – it is so famous it can be referred by its nickname, ‘The Beast’, and classic car enthusiasts will immediately know which example of eccentric motoring heritage we’re talking about.

“This is a genuine once in a lifetime opportunity and I hope the lucky new buyer continues to use and enjoy the car the way John did.” adds Wood. 

The Beast’s auction starts on March 9th and lasts for seven days.

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