This 1,300PS car will be powered by a Spitfire engine

24th August 2022
Bob Murray

Aero-engined cars have a long and glorious past, and the madder and more monstrous the better. It is easy to think the days of a new one being created are over, but the images you see here say otherwise. The man behind the design tells us: “Every year I'm at the Goodwood Festival of Speed I keep saying, what this event needs is a car with a Spitfire engine!”


He is Piers Walters Dowell and the project he has been nurturing for the past six years is called the Fighter Ace. The artist and designer describes the car as “an ERA on steroids”. And he dreams of seeing it thunder up the Goodwood Hill at the Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard like “a cross between the Beast of Turin and Ken Block’s Hoonigan.”

Definitely mad then, utterly monstrous – and surely totally unmissable for any petrolhead. But how likely is it to happen? A sticking point might be finding a spare Spitfire engine, but Piers has that sorted. He already has one.


It’s a 1944 Rolls-Royce Merlin 66 from a Mk9 Spitfire that actually saw service in the Second World War. It’s 27 litres of supercharged V12 that pumps out 1,300PS (970kW) with a facility to up that to 2,000PS (1,491kW) for short duration. Torque is 4,745Nm (3,500lb ft) at 3,000rpm.

“The Fighter Ace will be only the fifth car in the world to use a complete R-R Merlin engine with supercharger and the only one from an actual Spitfire,” Piers tells us. He says other cars that claim to be powered by Merlins actually use Rover Meteor engines. 


The V12 will power the 21-inch rear wheels via a three-speed manual gearbox driven through a planetary overdrive and single plate clutch. A tubular chassis, independent suspension and Girling Mk1 disc brakes are in the spec. With a target weight of 1,400kg the car should really…hopefully not actually fly, but certainly be massively quick, as well as roar like a Spitfire.

“Now the design is almost complete I can confidently say the car will look very close to the CGI images,” says Piers. “The Fighter Ace will not be road legal but a Brooklands style racing car with a design chronology cut-off of around 1950. In other words, nothing on the car will have been invented after 1950 apart from a very well hidden fuel-injection system.”


The designer with a passion for historical accuracy says the car will have two seats and be used for demo runs at high profile events such as the Festival of Speed. He envisages a famous driver will steer it and the passenger seat will be auctioned off to the highest bidder to raise money for charity.

Talking of raising money…Piers Walters Dowell is now looking for a partner investor to ensure the Fighter Ace gets built. As well as having the engine and the design, he says he has a machine shop but is now looking to set up a small facility to build the first car. He plans to build more cars to the same design. He says the engines are out there “if you know where to look”.

“The cars that have been built before using these engines have all been compromised either because of cost, available hardware, a lack of initial design or all of the above. This is a no compromise project, go big or go home.”

  • Spitfire

  • Rolls-Royce

  • Merlin

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