A what, we here you say. Well, it’s a custom built hot-rod themed car from the Seventies, fashioned on a fighter plane and based on Beetle running gear. And this whacky one off has come up for sale in Florida…
I am sure I had a Hot Wheels car that looked a lot like this once. Either way, judging by the distinctive paint job, motorcycle front mudguards and mag-style wheels this retina teasing creation undoubtedly has its roots in the retro US hot-rod scene.
Yet the creative genius responsible for its design and build in the early 1970s, Curtis Ribelin, was a US Navy jet fighter and it’s thought that he modelled the build on one of his fighter planes. And indeed, the clever one-piece canopy roof that hinges forward on gas struts bears a definite resemblance to a fighter plane’s cockpit canopy. Coincidentally, this particular feature of the car isn’t massively dissimilar to the hinged roof arrangement that featured on the rare Porsche HLS that we featured here recently.
It took Curtis Ribelin an estimated 8000 hours to build and documented photos giving a blow by blow account of how it all came together is included as part of the sale.
Canopy aside, the Rib-Jet looks like nothing else on earth with its odd bulbous snout (akin to a platypus), sculptured sides and boat-like rear end. And that’s something its vendor, Northshoreautos in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is keen to exploit. “This is a unique and fun custom that has some history behind it, and it can only increase in value.”
It was first built as a three-wheeler, which partly explains its tapered shape, and was converted to four-wheels sometime in the 1980s or ‘90s. It is 100% street legal and is registered as a 1962 VW Beetle upon which it is based. Apparently, it’s a hoot to drive – lightweight, quick and with cornering that feels like it’s on rails.
The original 1200cc lump has obviously been replaced by a 1600 Dub engine at some point and it sits beneath a clear cover in the rear hatch. It’s obviously an older dynamo engine, but somewhere along the line twin carbs and possibly electronic ignition has been fitted.
Inside, the custom theme continues – although we have to say the styling here looks more nautical with its wide centre console, toggle switches, quilted seats and abundant use of plywood. We expect prospective buyers would quickly ditch the spanking new CD player and replace it with something a bit more period…
So what do you think – and what would you be willing to pay for it? An eBay auction of the car last April failed to attract any bids – and that’s despite a starting bid price of just $500. The Buy it Now price back then was $12,989. Interestingly, the listing stated that the vendor would be willing to ship from USA to the UK, but obviously that’s something interested parties would need to square up with the seller before parting with any cash.
Even allowing for a boat trip across the pond, there’s still time to get it here before the show season really gets underway…
The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of VW Heritage