My Car Quest

February 24, 2024

So-Cal Belly Tanker – A Hot Rod Or What?

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.

So-Cal Belly Tanker

So-Cal Belly Tanker

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.

So-Cal Belly Tanker

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.

So-Cal Belly Tanker

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.

So-Cal Belly Tanker sign

So-Cal Belly Tanker - A Hot Rod Or What?
Article Name
So-Cal Belly Tanker - A Hot Rod Or What?
The So-Cal Belly Tanker is the fastest unblown flathead-powered car in the history of Bonneville.


  1. This email from regular reader Bruce Meyer (the owner of the Belly Tanker) just came in:

    Nice article on the Belly Tank!!!!
    I’m just on my way to the HOT ROD Magazine 65th Anniversary celebration where the tank is on display!!!
    Hope this finds you well…
    Bruce (Meyer)

  2. ~ forgottenfiberglass also has great Bill Burke history. this was an exciting period of ‘outsider’ automotive history.

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