Trail’s End: Big Numbers- Jeff Dane’s Monster Packs A V-12, 3,000 hp, and 73-inch Tires
Flip open the hood of a new truck on the lot today, and you might find fewer cylinders in the block than there are fingers on your left paw. We get it; new-age tech gives us better fuel economy, which means more spending change available for the other money-hungry 4x4s in our lives. Jeff Dane evidently had no plans for fuel savings, or modesty of any kind, when constructing his monster truck—"Awesome Kong II" stomped its way onto Four Wheeler's cover in June of 1985.
The truck was an instant crowd-pleaser with its Competition Orange paint and 73-inch tires, but the real hook was the engine. Before finding its home inside Awesome Kong II, the V-12 Allison airplane engine powered a World War II P-51 Mustang, and later, an Unlimited Class hydroplane named "Miss Madison." Both of those vehicles boasted top speeds north of 200 mph. Packing about as many pounds as a typical 18-hand Clydesdale, the mill was good for 3,000 hp at 4,500 rpm and 2,500 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm—that's 1.75 horses per cubic inch of engine and 2.2 horses per pound of engine weight. Want more specs? Awesome Kong II chugged 1.7 gallons of 100-plus octane fuel per minute; the gas was mixed by four 930cfm Predator carbs and was ignited by 24 spark plugs. Jeff claimed he could smoke all four tires from a standstill using only a quarter-throttle. It took 10 gallons of oil to keep the engine lubricated, and cooling was courtesy of the 33-gallon-capacity system consisting of two radiators and a hydraulic fan.
To deal with the immense power output while keeping the center of gravity low, Jeff started with the frame of a 5-ton military truck, shortened it, and then began reinforcing. He added an initial subframe made from 3/8x4x12-inch box steel tube, and another 3/8x4x6-inch subframe made from the same material. Awesome Kong II got its 3,000 horses to the wheels first through the Allison CLT 750 Power Shift transmission, holding 12 gallons of tranny fluid and a price tag of $27,000 (at the time). A pair of custom-built 70-ton driveshafts sent power to the truck's axles, which exemplified Jeff's engineering prowess. They combined the pots from a 60-ton Mack tank hauler, planetaries from a 70-ton MSV, and a 90-degree gearbox previously used to raise and lower the boom on a 140-ton Koehring crane. It was the 90-degree box that eliminated excessive driveline angles between the transmission and the axles.
Each of the Goodyear 12-ply tires weighed 1,050 pounds, mounted to a custom-built, 38-inch-wide wheel, which brought the rotating weight at each corner to 1,350 pounds. Re-arched 5-ton springs in the front, deuce-and-a-half springs in the rear, and 12-inch-lift blocks kept the herculean tires out of the body panels, preserving the look of Jeff's '84 Ford F-150-based truck.
Did you grow up watching monstrous trucks sail like planes, wreaking havoc on junkyard cars? Maybe you're like us and have been strapped into one of these behemoths. Or, perhaps you've put an airplane engine to work in some fantastical four-by. Whatever the case, tell us about it! Send those emails and high-resolution images to email@example.com, and join us in reliving the madness of monster trucks.