At first glance, you can't help but stare at The Beast. It looks like something out of a dystopian sci-fi movie or the imagination of a mad scientist. As the creation of John Dodd, it falls into the latter category with its 27-litre Merlin engine. And if you're brave enough, it's for sale on Car & Classic's auction site in the United Kingdom.
The engine is 10 times the size of the base 2.7-litre V6 in the Ford F-150, which is why it has such a long bonnet. It's also why the car is called The Beast. Originally, Dodd boasted the naturally aspirated engine churned out 950 bhp, but current estimates put it closer to the 750 bhp range. Either way, it was featured in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's most powerful car in 1977, reaching a top speed of 183 mph.
Gallery: John Dodd's The Beast
In an era of outrageous creations like the Stutz Blackhawk, it makes the 1973 Cadillac Eldorado look demure and the 1977 Lincoln Continental Town Car seem sensible. But the strangest part is that The Beast was originally registered as a Rolls-Royce and, at one time, even had a grille from a Silver Shadow.
Whether encouraged by the car's registration or his rebellious spirit, Dodd loved pranking Rolls-Royce. According to Classic Driver, he would call the company pretending to be a customer who wanted to buy the car he had just seen blow by him on a European road. This led to a myth about a baron with a Porsche phoning Rolls-Royce after ‘The Beast’ had overtaken him while driving flat-out on a German autobahn. Only it wasn’t a baron; it was Dodd.
Eventually, Rolls-Royce took Dodd to court for trademark infringement. The case was a media circus, with Dodd attending the hearing in The Beast. As he recalled later, “I drove it every day and parked right outside the court." The court ruled in Rolls-Royce’s favour, fining Dodd, who refused to pay. After losing an appeal and facing jail time, he fled to Spain to escape extradition.
Dodd passed away in 2022 at the age of 90. The Beast eventually lost its Rolls Royce grille and was last registered in 2018. As for the auction, it opens on March 9, allowing you the opportunity to own a one-off, custom-bodied sport-back estate with 27 litres of ground-pounding power.
Source: Car & Classic