This Pre-WWII Hot Rod Is Powered By A WWI Aircraft V8 Engine


Who would own and drive something like this? Take a guess.

It wasn’t really until after WWII in America that hot rodding became more mainstream. Prior to the war, if you wanted to build a hot rod, then no problem, fine. Just find a military surplus airplane engine and a car whose engine bay was big enough to handle it, and you were all set, aside from some structural modifications. And yes, these things were literally death traps, much like the airplanes that also utilized these engines. Let’s just say the combat survival rate for the pilots wasn’t high.

But the engines themselves were literally bulletproof, a fact Jay Leno explains very well in this latest episode of Jay Leno’s Garage. Who else would you expect to own a pre-WWII hot rod with one of these motors?

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Leno has had his 1915 Hispano Suiza for years, but hasn’t done much work on it in around a decade; yet the car and engine are still going strong. Speaking of which, the engine itself is an 18.5-liter V8 with around 300 hp. Leno figures a top speed of around 140 mph is possible, but we’d be scared to give that a try, considering this thing doesn’t even have drum brakes. How do chain brakes sound to you? We thought so.

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