What do you do when an 8-litre Bentley or Grand Prix Bugatti isn’t enough? If you are Clive and Bruce Woolley, you build a 27-litre tank-engined Monster in the spirit of an early 1900s land speed or Brooklands racer and call it ‘Lucy’.
That’s correct: 27-litre or 1647 cubic inches. If that number doesn’t jump at you, then try 12 cylinders, 24 spark plugs, 1850kg and whopping 1550Nm of torque. Top speed with current ratios is 160km/h and it’ll get there in a flash of exhaust flames and smoking rubber. Clive Woolley is well known in the vintage car scene, having owned and raced vintage Bentleys and Bugattis both here and abroad. He’s a member of our Vintage and Veteran Club and has just short of 60 years of membership with the Vintage Sport Car Club of England.
It would appear that spending time amongst this machinery and like-minded people gets the creative juices flowing. For Woolley, the aero-engined machine bug bit decades back. He scoured around for a suitable power plant for years, before, in 1980, stumbling across a 1943 Liberty engine at Beaulieu Auto Jumble. The deal was done, and the hulking great lump sent down to South Africa.
Initially the Liberty V12-type engine was used in WWI aircraft but by WWII it had evolved into a tank unit. Being a 1943 unit the Woolleys’ lump originated from a tank. In essence it was the same thing, but accessories differed between the tank and plane variants to suit application. In ‘Lucy’ format the Liberty thumps out 1550Nm of torque and redlines at 1650rpm. Fuel is fed to the chambers, which are topped by a pair of spark plugs each, by a brace of Solex 2.5-inch carbs.