My three-year-old daughter Katie grabbed my ears and pointed my head at the car she wanted to see. We were at the 59th Annual Portland Roadster Show this past weekend. The long-running show brings in a couple-hundred cool cars from all over the U.S. and Canada. I’ve been going for years — it’s one of the events that got me hooked on cars in the first place, back in the mid-1980s when I’d tag along behind my dad. We’d look at fiberglassed Corvettes, metal-flake street rods, monster trucks…


This year’s Roadster Show was extra special for me, as it was the first time Katie wanted to go. So we packed some snacks and headed out.


With Katie on my shoulders guiding the way, we looked at everything from vintage hot rods to modern Mopar muscle. We stopped to check out a ’49 Cadillac custom, a ’69 Road Runner, a Willys gasser, and her clear personal favorite: a 1968 Chevrolet pickup custom done in purple and silver. It turned out to be my personal favorite, too — but not because of the custom paint.


Now, in the course of my day job here at ACC, I’ve seen all sorts of things fitted under the hoods of custom cars. Big-block 427 shoehorned into an early Nova? Sure. Small-block Chevy in a ’32 Ford? Didn’t they come stock like that? Late-model Hemi or GM LS motor in a vintage muscle car? Probably one a week. But under the hood of this pickup was something I’d never seen before: an honest-to-goodness aircraft radial engine, lying flat and all plumbed up to run.  


I’m not sure how this thing would work out in the real world, but I don’t think that’s the point. Cars (and trucks) like this are meant to turn heads, and even if this thing is just rolled off a trailer and fired up on its way to a car show parking spot, it’ll still draw a crowd. In fact, I had to wait a few long minutes to get a clear shot of it, thanks to the stream of gawkers just like me, hovering around it and trying to figure out how it all worked.


This thing tops my list of crazy engine swaps. Think you’ve seen something even better? Share it in the comments below!

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