…Harnessing the power of over 1600 horsepower is no easy task!
Jay does Gale a lot of favors, so to return that kindness, Gale twin-turbocharged and fuel-injected the car’s M47 V-12 tank engine. “We took it from 800 to 1600 hp and doubled the mileage as well,” says Banks. “Jay likes a lot of power and a horn you can hear…Now he’s a happy man.”
Follow along with us as we take a behind-the-scenes trip through the Banks Advanced Prototype Engineering laboratory to view the magical transformation of a Cold War-era giant into a modern superpower.
Yeah, it’s got a HEMI! Believe it or not, it was early experimentation with hemispherical head tank engines like this that started Chrysler’s legacy of the HEMI engine. In stock form, this engine was rated at 810 horsepower on 80 octane gasoline.
If you had a vehicle the size of the Chrysler building powered by a Korean-War-era M47 Patton tank engine — a 2000-pound, 1790 cubic-inch V-12 air-cooled Chrylser-built beast that makes 810 hp and 1560 lb-ft torque, and has an Allison tranny from a Greyhound bus — what’s the first thing you would do? Well, Jay Leno did what any sane person would: he called Gale Banks to give it even more power.
“There’s two things Jay wants in a car,” says Banks: “a loud horn and huge power.” So Gale and his team went to work on twin-turbocharging the tank car’s gargantuan air-cooled engine. But getting the goods to turbocharge a tank engine from half a century ago isn’t as simple as stopping in at Pep Boys. The Banks crew had to build many of the parts themselves, from mongo slabs of billet aluminum. Gale called his friends at the Robert Bosch company and asked them to convert the engine to fuel injection. The turbos were sourced from Honeywell/Garrett Turbo Technologies and are magnesium-housing units originally used for Toyota’s CART efforts. They don’t sell them, officially, but if they did you’d pay close to $10,000 per copy.
Project Photo Gallery
What happens when you leave a Korean War tank engine sitting too close to the hot rod that you parked over at Gale Banks Engineering?
You’d think that a multi-ton, 800hp, 20 foot long polished aluminum roadster powered by a tank engine would be wild enough for consummate car guy and popular TV host Jay Leno, ... Read more
“What I hope to bring SEMA is a clear view into the future, its challenges and its opportunities.” — Gale Banks
How can I help SEMA today? Well, I¹m a futurist. My entire career has been about what¹s next. Through the decades, we at Banks have opened new markets in marine engines, turbocharging, truck and motorhome ... Read more
More of an art project that a real car … check out one the most famous vehicles in Jay’s collection …
Ever see the Blastolene? Built by Randall Grubb as more of an art project that a real car, it was purchased a few years ago by Jay Leno and actually driven around his Burbank, California, ... Read more
Only a few little things remain to be completed before we can light this thing off. We hooked up vacuum lines for the power brakes, reworked the crankcase ventilation system, and did some slight trimming of the body panels around the new turbo components. The short wastegate outlet pipes were abandoned later for pipes that ... Read more
Our first task on the “hot” side of the Tank Car’s turbo system was to route tubing from the exhaust manifolds to the turbochargers. We started by replacing the original mild steel tubing with stainless tubing and installing a V-band flange at the exhaust manifold outlet. Fabricator Daniel Dominguez and Bob Robe check the angle ... Read more
Three pumps, no waiting! On the wet side of the EFI system, Bosch provided us with their 200 liter-per-hour, 5-bar (72 psig) electric fuel pumps. With each pump putting out just under one gallon per minute, it’ll take three of them in parallel to feed this monster. We mounted the pumps and relays on one ... Read more
Jay Leno’s Tank Car is just one of several high profile development programs ongoing in the Banks Advanced Prototype Engineering labs. One of the Banks Sidewinder Duramax Diesel race trucks can be seen in the background. At this point in the Tank Car’s transformation, all of the fabricated intake components and the fuel rails were ... Read more
One of Gale’s goals when converting Jay’s engine to electronic fuel injection was to improve driveability and throttle response. These twin 75mm throttle bodies, designed for Ford Mustang applications, replace the original Stromberg 2bbl. carburetors. We could have gone bigger, but this was a good compromise for off-idle transition. We’ve modified them with new throttle ... Read more
A big engine’s gonn’a need a lott’a fuel! With the airflow potential of 1600+ horsepower from the two Honneywell/Garrett TR 72T turbochargers, the fuel system must supply at least 2-1/2 gallons per minute at full throttle. No, it won’t need this most of the time, but it must be there when called on. In an ... Read more
Jay Leno’s tank car Gallery #2: Intake manifold construction
The AV 1790 Hemi is an air cooled 90-degree V12 with cylinder banks over 50 inches long and a 42 inch width across the rocker covers. Because of Gale’s concern for thermal expansion in such a long engine, and for ease of manufacturing and assembly, we decided ... Read more