Look over the power outputs of most classic cars you'll scoff pityingly. A 1961 Mini Cooper? 55bhp. Series 1 Jaguar E-Type? 255bhp. Scoffing pityingly, aren't you?
It's not your fault. These days you can buy a Vauxhall hatchback with 277bhp. Mercedes makes a 525bhp family estate. And 1000bhp is the supercar benchmark. You're so used to being dazzled by the white heat of power that you've grown accustomed to the glare...
But this week, we found a very strange sort of classic. One that you probably wouldn't scoff pityingly at. It's a road car, but its power output's a strange kink in the bhp continuum; it's from 1975 and it makes 900 brake horsepower. NINE HUNDRED. Oh, and it's based on a Vauxhall saloon. What the HELL doesn't even begin to cover it...
It's called the John Pope Special, and the chances of anything even remotely similar turning up for sale again stand at comfortably long odds. It's an amalgam of Aston Martin DBS racer and Vauxhall Magnum body built to campaign in the Tricentrol Super Saloon Championship - a series for super-modified saloons with a passing, low-res resemblance to proper road cars.
After finishing all the races it entered in 1974, its owner, John Pope, thought the engine was a bit... flaccid. So he wound on an experimental AIResearch twin-turbo setup which, at full 18psi boost, produced 900bhp. Remarkably, it was just as reliable with forced induction, finishing every race it entered in 1975 and won the Forrest Lycett trophy for the fastest sports car and the Carter Shaw trophy for the fastest saloon with a top speed of 149mph.
So, the engine's been commissioned by a speed junkie, and it looks so utterly hostile that we feel a sense of personal gratitude that it hasn't come to the Top Gear office and punched us in the middle of the face. But there's more. It had a tax disc. Which meant it was road legal... Pope used to drive it to and from most of its race meets.
That makes it not just the most insane car in the world, but very possibly the most insane thing in the world.
Want it? Of course you do. Best get saving - it costs £65,000 and it needs a full recomission.
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