While at Performance Improvements the other day chatting about everything automotive, but at the same time nothing in particular, the name Rick Dobbertin came up to which my reply was “Who?”
Who indeed, as I would come to learn Rick Dobbertin is a man known for building three very distinct, very different vehicles.
A Chevy Nova, a ’59 Milk Tanker amphibious vehicle known as the surface orbiter (a vehicle worthy of a WTF Friday post all its own) and the wild Pontiac J-2000 featured today.
Built in the 80s, when hair was wild and paint was wilder, this J-2000 was designed to be THE Pro Street car to end all pro street cars.
Rick himself describes the thought process around the build as follows: First, I looked at the areas that defined a Pro-Streeter – areas like the engine, the transmission, the huge rear tires and the narrowed rear axles, the stance, the interior and the paint. Next, I determined that I would take all of these areas to an extreme. Finally, I decided to stuff all this technology into the smallest narrowest car I could find to get the greatest effect.
As the guys at PI described the car two things caused my eye brows to blend with my hairline. The first was the description of the motor which had “two of everything”.
Since extreme was Rick’s goal he built a 350 small block that was force-fed via twin Roto-Master turbos, and twin Magnuson superchargers, and as if that wasn’t enough he also pumped nitrous through the entire deal.
The second part of the car that I really couldn’t believe was true was the rear suspension setup. Since the car ran such large wheels out back there really wasn’t much room for anything else –other than the very narrow Dana rear end– so he just ran no suspension at all.
Of course there were nay sayers who said that the car wasn’t complete without rear suspension of any kind, so to shut them up, and flip them off at the same time, he installed some valve springs in the rear.
No I’m not making that up, here’s another quote: At its coming-out party, the J-2000 relied strictly on sidewall deflection to tune ride quality. And, yes, given the right circumstances, it would bounce like a Top Fuel car. Later, Dobbertin added a pair of valvesprings(!) between the top of the rear-end housing and the chassis to dampen the legion of critics who howled that any car without a rear suspension was not a real street car. – Hot Rod Magazine
In addition to the over the top motor, and the exaggerated Pro Street stance, the ‘Radical J’ also had a 304 stainless steel tube frame that was cleaned up to the point where it looked like it was one piece, a pneumatic tilting body to reveal said frame (that still had opening and closing doors), one-off suspension, Wilwood brakes, and an under carriage that featured an aluminium louvred floor pan.
So far as I can tell the car was more a Fairground cruiser than anything else but that didn’t stop it from accumulating a pile of accolades including being recognized as Hot Rod Magazines Hot Rod of the year in 1986, and being immortalized in plastic as Revell model (which I’d like to find).
What became of the car after that I’m not entirely sure but hopefully it still exists somewhere as it’s truly a marvel.
More info on this car is available on hotrod.com and Rick’s Personal site.