Jay Leno’s Tank Car: The Early Stages

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.

When you’ve got an engine as unique as an AV 1790 Chrysler/Continental V12, it’s always handy to have a spare. Jay sent us one of his “extra” engines which arrived in the original US Government nitrogen-filled shipping container so we had an engine for mock-up and measurement apart from the vehicle.

We knew we needed to create new intake manifolds to handle the airflow for 1600+ horsepower and to provide nozzle locations for electronic fuel injection. The original twin 2-barrel Stromberg carburetors and heavy cast iron intake manifolds were removed in preparation for the new components.

Unlike conventional V-type automotive engines, the AV 1790 V12 has the intake ports on the outside of the cylinders with the exhaust ports in the valley where two huge cooling fans draw air from around the cylinders and past the exhaust manifolds. The initial design phase of the turbo system layout involved measurement of the intake port locations in relation to the engine and vehicle.

A part of the design process involves the selection of materials and construction methods. Because this is a one-off application, we decided to fabricate Jay’s intake manifolds as aluminum weldments from a combination of machined tubular sections, machined flanges, and forged elbow fittings.

Check back soon for our next installment as we go through the steps in welding and machining the components to produce a pair of 3-piece log manifolds nearly four feet long.

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