Yes, it's for real and it's for sale.
The first thing you need to know is that this is a real car you can actually buy right now on Craigslist. This isn't some Photoshop job. What started out life as a 2000 model year Volkswagen Beetle has been turned into what many might consider a death wish. Built several years ago by a guy with a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University, this heavily modified Beetle has two engines: the production gasoline engine up front that drives the front wheels and a rear-mounted jet engine.
Why two engines? In order to drive this thing around town legally with the gasoline engine. The 300-pound General Electric jet engine (model T58-8F) provides an additional 1,350 horsepower and is controlled with a throttle lever located next to the gear selector. The engine spins up to 26,000 rpm and idles at 13,000 rpm.
But how on earth does this engine stay in place and not, say, rip the vehicle in two once ignited? Here's a detailed explanation from its builder/seller:
"The force from the jet is harnessed using sandwich plates bolted to contoured aluminum billets inserted into the frame rails. The engine has rigid mounts with rubber bushings in the front and the back are sliding. It grows as it warms up so the engine mounts have to account for this."
A heat blanket had to be added to the front bumper to prevent it from melting when the jet has been ignited. It's also important for any prospective buyers to note this thing isn't exactly cheap to run. Three gallons of turbine oil, for example, cost $25 a quart.
The interior retains a mostly stock appearance with the main exception being a new set of jet engine gauges surrounding the steering wheel. We also couldn't help but notice the builder retained the flower vase between the steering column and dash.
But why was the Beetle chosen for this project? Simply because it looks cool with the jet engine sticking out the back. The posting is full of precise build details that any interested buyer should study before deciding if this Beetle is for them. It might require a home re-mortgage to do so with its $550,000 asking price. But hey, at least this two-decade-old Beetle has just 3,000 miles on its odometer. Best of luck to its next owner.