The Black Widow


18 Responses to “The Black Widow”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Yeh…interesting thing about Herr Porsche’s car…this very model is the one that the nutso, homicidal stressed-out British engineer Father in Walkabout by Nicholas Roeg, greatly under-rated British film director, drives out to the desert with his kids in and attempts to kill them but fails and then shoots himself instead after lighting the whole thing on fire as they run away. Later in the film the Aborigines are hanging with his dead body in the carcass of the car.

  2. roboton says:

    One of the best posts ever to Boing Boing. Thanks for the history lesson!

  3. mdh says:


  4. bcsizemo says:

    Youtube is full of turbo flat 4 four (never looked for jet powered) VW’s out gunning everything at the strip. I’ve been to a couple of the SEVWA drag meets at Farmington and around NC, they are always a blast.

    I’ve got an old 77 convertible living in my parent’s basement…one day…just one day it will live again.

  5. A Nonny Moose says:

    A common misconception with Turbonique axles is that they were thrust power devices, but the facts are even stranger. To avoid potential street-legality issues with thrust propulsion , the creators of the Turbonique instead went with a rocket-fuel powered turbine which engaged the rear axle when activated. When installed in a conventional front-engine car, this enabled the driver to use the conventional powerplant for everyday driving and engage the rocket turbine for 850 (or more) extra HP on demand (as seen in this 1964 Ford Galaxie ). Iowahawk has a good writeup on Turbonique, too.

    The Black Widow (as I understand it) used the same basic Drag Axle as the Ford I linked above, but it was bolted to a modified VW transaxle in place of the stock motor.

  6. A Nonny Moose says:

    @Myself #8: I should have noticed that Torchinsky also referenced Iowahawk’s piece in the article. My bad.

  7. Syd says:

    In the linked add it mentions that if you send $2.00 they send you a “33 1/3 rpm recording of operating noises.”

  8. Halloween Jack says:

    A cross between Herbie the Love Bug and Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang? What else could you possibly want in a car?

  9. Anonymous says:

    The pics of the drag is against Tommy Ivos’ 4 engine all wheel drive drager.

  10. Anonymous says:

    My first car was a 1966 VW beetle sedan in Bahama Blue with a cloud white interior… come to think of it, it is still my car. That beautiful bitch is still in the driveway as I type this.

    Thanks for the black widow history, I only knew part of the story.

  11. ackpht says:

    A few months ago a friend had a garage party and some interesting people came by- a guy developing electric motorcycles, a guy who scratch-builds classic Porsches, a guy who made a robot-drawn chariot, and Ron Patrick, who brought his New Beetle with the jet engine in the back.

    Stellar workmanship, best of everything. The regular engine’s still in the car for “normal” driving. He fired up the jet and ran it up to about a quarter throttle- man was it loud!

    Lucky for Ron that he left before the sheriff’s helicopter and two carloads of teed-off deputies showed up.

  12. Mindpowered says:

    From the Iowahawk page.

    “”TOO MUCH: The above (go)cart, which is equipped with T-21-A engines, is considered unsafe for 1/4 mile competition as pictured. The thrust/weight ratio is such that speeds over 160 mph are reached within 4 seconds.””

    You’re fucking kidding me.

    “Such pleas for moderation fell on the deaf ears of “Captain Jack” McClurg, who eventually coaxed his Turbonique (go)kart to over 240 mph in the early 1970s.”

    Stunned silence.

  13. knodi says:

    I shuddered from a horrible flashback when I saw the headline and pictures. One of the first volkswagens I ever sat in (it wasn’t operational) was an old black one that my buddy kept in a garage… The whole car was crawling with black widow spiders, which he told me to beware of AFTER I sat in the driver’s seat and saw several on the dash.


  14. Takuan says:

    sigh…whatever happened…

  15. gollux says:

    Proof that you can fly a barn door if you apply enough power. Given the aerodynamic shape of the Bug, we see that 850shp is enough to fly a hemispherical barn door.

    Due to this effect, and the swing axle design you got a jacking effect that made them unstable in corners with crosswinds at about 85 mph. The Z-bar was an attempt at reducing the wheel jacking.

  16. Anonymous says:

    The Turbonique transaxles, blowers, and rocket motors used a monopropellent called n-propyl nitrate, sold under the trade name ‘Thermolene’. Under normal circumstances, it’s quite well behaved. However, under adiabatic compression, it shows big, scary teeth. Since you can get adiabatic compression by opening or closing a valve too fast, this has potentially nasty consequences.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Now that’d be fun when you encounter the guy revving his his souped-up Honda Civic at the traffic lights…

  18. ill lich says:

    My first car was a VW Bus, my second was a Beetle, my third was almost a Karman Ghia, but I realized it just wasn’t very wise for that to be my only wheels, and I defected to the Toyota camp.

    Still, a little part of me died when they stopped making air-cooled VWs.

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