Some things just need to be built. Even without a practical purpose, some things must exist because they will make the world a better place. Inspiration is a powerful force in our world, and things that are born out of passion serve to inspire further passion in others. If that isn’t a worthy cause, then I don’t know what is.
This is the Thunderbolt, a custom built Rolls Royce Boat Tail Speedster with a fire-breathing WWII tank engine under its massive hood. It is the embodiment of childhood dreams, and an homage to a more elegant time, when cars were truly works of art and craftsmanship.
The Thunderbolt’s mighty engine is a 27 liter Rolls Royce Meteor V12. It produces 600-700hp and over 1,600 ft/lbs of torque. The Meteor engine was the tank derivative of the famous Merlin engine used in the Spitfire fighter plane. And when the owner says to be careful when starting the car, he means because it literally shoots 5 foot flames out the side exhausts (See the video).
The Thunderbolt was custom built starting in 2007 and finished in 2013. Construction took place in both Finland and in Florida by a gentleman named J.B. Van de Bunt — Now isn’t that exactly the sort of name you’d expect from someone who’d roll up in this? Awesome!
Despite being titled as a Rolls Royce, the Thunderbolt is actually based on a 1920’s Cadillac frame and suspension. The engine, obviously, is proper Rolls Royce, though. And the coachwork beautifully embodies the Rolls Royce boat tails of the day.
I just couldn’t take my eyes off the Thunderbolt at Festivals of Speed, Amelia Island. It was up for auction, and it drew one hell of a crowd. More than just a Rolls Royce “Tank Car”, the detail work and painstaking craftsmanship of the Thunderbolt was mesmerizing. I mean, just look at that finely sculpted wooded boat tail. They sure don’t make them like this anymore… and I’m not sure they ever did, even back in the day.
The Rolls Royce Thunderbolt Custom is both a modern and classic automotive masterpiece. No person with a beating heart could look at this and tell me that an automobile cannot be “art”. If the Thunderbolt isn’t “art”, then the Mona Lisa is just a badly stained sheet of canvass.
Enjoy the gallery, and be sure to mind the drool on your keyboard.