by Mike –
Returning American soldiers from World War II wanted to build cars that went fast. This was especially true in Southern California where the Hot Rod culture was created by returning soldiers who had learned new mechanical skills in the military.
One of these cars stands out. An ingenious Bill Burke thought it was a good idea to take the aluminum fuel tank from P-51 and P-47 airplanes and turn them into land rockets designed to go very fast in a straight line on the dry lake beds of Southern California.
It turned out that the larger tanks from a P-38 were more suitable to hold a Ford V8 engine and a driver.
The classic So-Cal Special shown here is the most famous of these belly tankers. Alex Xydias, the owner of the So-Cal Speed Shop, and Dave DeLangton collaborated on this ingenious race car.
At the Bonneville National Speed Trials in the summer of 1951 the So-Cal Belly Tanker set new records with driver DeLangton. With a few engine changes this creation eventually reached more that 195 MPH in 1952.
Alex Xydias and his So-Cal Speed Shop built the fastest unblown flathead-powered car in the history of Bonneville in 1951.
The So-Cal Belly Tanker is owned today by Bruce Meyer.
195 MPH in a gas tank on wheels? That takes guts.
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