Sunday, May 06, 2012

Jay Leno brought his awe inspiring 1917 race car, the Botafogo Special, powered by a Fiat A12, 21.7 liter engine, to the Graystone Mansion concours!

for more photos and videos: the video starts with a commercial, but it's incredibly informative. For example, I knew the engine had enormous displacement, but when Jay tells you that each cylinder is the equal of a Chevy 327... just one cylinder of this Fiat engine, 350 cu inches... that is a good reason to watch the video and learn from Jay all about this car and it's WW1 aircraft engine

Could probably reach speeds around 150 mph, but on dual chain drives, and only rear mechanical brakes... only gets about 1500 rpm, and would likely not sustain that for long before the block repair, the valves, the cam gear drive, the chains, or something failed horribly, and might be a suicide run. Better to just think about it at speed, than to experience it

built in Argentina,  because the owner was inspired by Mefistopheles, the land speed record (146mph) making car, fastest car in the world at the time,

and last land speed record set on public roads... so the Argentinian sourced a similar engine, and had a car built. No transmission or brakes. Yeah, he died in the car, about 20 years later, but still.

Jay Leno arrived about 10:20 am, long after all the other vehicles, and it was so quiet that you could hear this rumble from the bottom of the hill, steadily getting louder as he pulled up into the parking lot, and everyone seemed to stop what they were doing and talking about to get over to where he came driving through. I turned to a couple guys nearby, and said "That is how you make an entrance"

Mefistofele is a famous Fiat, and you can see a photo, a painting, and learn about it in this post: or
or and another at

 no power steering is my guess, and this is where they directed him to park? A testament to dedication to driving old cars. He didn't insist on an easy parking spot, or that the van get moved (though after he was parked it was moved so the crowd could see the Fiat and Jay)
 Though after parking, and not during the drive, Jay discovered that the brake cable fastener was loose, and the brakes wouldn't keep the car from rolling back. So he got busy fixing it. That isn't unusual in the least from the many accounts I've heard of Jay Leno, he works on his cars.
 and after getting the brake cable fasterner tightened up, he was quickly mobbed for interviews and photos.

 Jay was really nice and patient with all the well wishers that wanted their pictures taken with him, and it caused me to wonder how much he gets to enjoy a car show, when so many people request his attention.

 this car was located in Argentina 20-30 years or so ago. Jay talks about that in his video
that is a lot of shock absorber / friction dampeners. 2 per side, 4 total in front. normally you see one per side on old cars

here is the carb. It's bigger than the huge Holley on the Packard V16 that powered the PT boats in my post about the Nethercutt Museum

 That spotty area to the left of the magneto is the crankcase repair from the 1950's, still holding

 these are the parts controlled by the levers attached to the steering column (seen below)


  1. Envy this gentlemen s car collection

  2. Was he showing the car at the Concours? Or is this the car he drove to be a spectator?

  3. That car is the wicked-awesomest!