Styling, like all creative things, is subjective. As such, it takes cojones to bestow the title “World’s Ugliest Car” when there’s many others to choose from. If you have issue with this, would “World’s Ugliest Shooting Brake” suffice? Nah, looking at John Dodd’s The Beast, it may certainly take the Victoria Sponge Cake as something that would elicit, “My, what in the Lord’s name is that, dear Sir?”
It all started with a gentleman named Paul Jameson, an automotive technocrat of the British persuasion who wanted to build something utilizing that British marvel of engineering, the 27-liter Rolls-Royce Meteor V12 (the updated version of Rolls’ Merlin V12 often found in tanks). Jameson built a frame utilizing parts from British vehicles with names like Jaguar, Wolseley, Jensen, Lotus and Reliant. Jameson met a chap named John Dodd, whom he commissioned to build an automatic transmission for the chassis.
Soon, Jameson offered Dodd the vehicle in body-less form. Dodd subsequently sent the chassis to Fibre Glass Repairs (whose owners also owned Santa Pod Raceway) to create a body for the chassis. “It was then that it gained a Rolls-Royce grille and mascot, in a nod to the engine’s provenance,” says Car & Classic, the UK-based online auction.
After a trip to Sweden resulted in fire damage, Dodd had the car rebodied in the form you see here; also new was a 750-horsepower Merlin V12 plus a Rolls-Royce grille and mascot sourced from a Silver Shadow. The company from Manchester made issue of the trademark infringement and sued when Dodd would not remove the items. Dodd lost, then lost an appeal, refused to pay the fine and then emigrated to Spain to avoid the warrant for his arrest. Of course, The Beast went with him, though now sporting “JD” on a conventional grille.
The initial body featured some Ford Capri influence, while the second was more of a beige shooting brake with some features that would make Clark Griswold proud. An official 183-mph top speed was achieved in 1973, which isn’t bad for a two-ton, 19-foot something. In 1977, The Beast made The Guinness Book of Records as the most powerful car on the road, though no mention was made of its 2-mpg appetite for fuel.
In its current form, The Beast features “a custom interior includes a bank of red switches which are used to initiate the starting sequence for the Merlin engine. The front suspension uses Austin elements whilst the rear is derived from a Jaguar XJ12 and sports a heavy-duty Currie axle.”
“This is a genuine once in a lifetime opportunity and I hope the lucky new buyer continues to use and enjoy the car the way John did,” says Tom Wood, CEO of Car & Classic. If you can get past the car’s styling, then you should know that the auction starts on March 9, 2023 and lasts for seven days.