Jay Leno’s Tank Car

…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.

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