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Thursday, July 2, 2009

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WTF

Michael Jackson’s net worth was $236 million in 2007

Documents note pop star’s Neverland Ranch and vast musical catalog

IMAGE: Neverland Ranch
Mark J. Terrill / AP file
Jackson's Neverland Ranch is valued at $33 million.



updated 1:55 p.m. ET, Tues., June 30, 2009

NEW YORK - Michael Jackson claimed to have a net worth of $236 million as of March 31, 2007, according to financial documents obtained by The Associated Press that shed light on the late pop star’s murky finances and prodigious borrowing.

The documents also show he had little cash on hand to finance his lavish lifestyle. They offer the clearest account yet on the state of Jackson’s financial empire, which is expected to become the focus of a legal battle between the singer’s family and creditors.

Jackson had $567.6 million in assets, including his Neverland Ranch, his share of the Sony/ATV Music Publishing catalog that includes the rights to songs by the Beatles, and an assortment of cars, antiques and collectibles, according to a statement of financial condition prepared by Washington, D.C.-based accounting firm Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio & Associates.

The report was prepared at a time when Jackson had large sums of debt coming due that had to be refinanced. The financial statement was based in large part on estimates provided by Jackson’s advisers that the accounting firm said it could not verify.

The documents obtained by the AP don’t show how much money he had coming in that year or how much he was spending, which makes it hard to estimate just how cash-poor he was. Still, the statement paints a pictures of Jackson’s tangled finances and the mountain of debt he left behind.

The five-page report says Jackson had debts of $331 million, leaving him with a net worth of $236.6 million. Highlighting his shaky financial health, the singer known for his lavish shopping sprees had just $668,215 in cash, according to the report, which is dated June 12, 2007.

The accounting firm did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The report puts a net value on Jackson’s 50 percent stake in the Sony/ATV Music Publishing catalog — his most prized assets — at $390.6 million. The 750,000-song catalog includes music by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Lady Gaga and the Jonas Brothers.

Another of Jackson’s prized possessions, his Neverland Ranch, is valued at $33 million, according to the report. It says Jackson took out a $23 million loan against the 2,500-acre property in the rolling hills of Santa Barbara County.

He also had $20 million worth of cars, antiques, collectibles and other property.

Jackson died Thursday of what his family has said was cardiac arrest. Medical examiners in Los Angeles are perhaps weeks away from officially determining the cause of death.

The divvying up of Jackson’s assets — and the settling of his debts — are likely to be hotly contested in court. On Monday, four days after Jackson’s death, lawyers for Katherine and Joe Jackson won temporary custody of Michael Jackson’s three children and moved to become administrators of his estate.

A judge granted 79-year-old Katherine Jackson temporary guardianship of the children, who range in age from 7 to 12. He also gave her control over some of her son’s personal property that is now in the hands of an unnamed third party. But the judge did not immediately rule on her requests to take charge of the children’s and Jackson’s estates.

The swift legal moves come amid questions about whether Jackson had a valid will. If not, many potential claimants could emerge seeking a piece of his empire.

Jackson’s parents claimed in documents filed in Superior Court on Monday that there is no will. A person with knowledge of Jackson’s business matters, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the material, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday that there is a will.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Gardener tames his wild garden by turning his 12ft hedge into a herd of elephants

By Daily Mail Reporter

A homeowner concerned that his garden was becoming a jungle - has transformed it into a herd of elephants.

Green-fingered Gavin Hogg fell in love with the wildlife during a safari in Kenya.

So much so, that when he returned to Britain, he found an inspired way to recreate a little bit of Africa in his back garden.

Enlarge Gardener creates herd of elephants from topiary hedge

Herd the one about the elephants? Gavin Hogg lovingly crafts his hedge

Enlarge hedge elephants

Hedge herd: The topiary family of elephants has been fashioned out of an unruly hedge

The 49-year-old painstakingly carved out a herd of elephants from an overgrown hedgerow.

He spent two days crafting the seven adults and three babies with a trimmer, shears - and a pair of scissors for the fiddly bits.

The result is a striking 100ft-long trail of green elephants that stretches around the corner of his family home outside Brecon in Mid Wales.

Mr Hogg said: 'It was just a normal, fairly boring box hedge when I started. I found a picture of a group of elephants and set about shaping it. Time seemed to disappear while I was working on it.

Enlarge  Gardener Gavin Hogg trims a topiary hedge in the shape of a herd of elephants

Mind the ears: Gavin Hogg puts the finishing touches to his topiary elephants

'I was able to create the appearance of folds in the skin and shadow lines for shoulder blades and hips.

'I also clipped an eye in some of the adult elephants to give it greater authenticity. It was a lot of work and the ears and trunks were a bit tricky but I am pleased with the end result.'

Father-of-two Mr Hogg and his wife Vina, who visited the Masai Mara game reserve in Kenya, farm organic vegetables at their 17th century home.

He added: 'It's great to see our own herd of elephants every time we look out of the window, even if they are green. They will need a haircut twice a year to smarten them up. But they will be a permanent feature.'

The topiary elephants are cut out of a hedge of common box (Buxus sempervirens) which was planted about 200 years ago.

Software Engineer Builds Kick-ass Electric Daytona Replica

Software engineer Raul Atkinson doesn't think all electric cars should be boring and look like robot suppositories. As a result he built this slick, all-electric Daytona replica he calls the Raptor.

Over the course of the 2000 hour project, Atkinson fitted a 3-phase AC induction motor and 290 NiMH batteries along with a motor controller and some body work to remove accommodations for exhaust tips. The result is a silent but deadly Daytona capable of 0-60 MPH times around 8 seconds, top speed of 100 MPH and a range of 80 between 3 hour recharges. Pretty cool project if you ask us.
Raptor ElectricRaptor ElectricRaptor Electric


Raptor ElectricRaptor ElectricRaptor Electric


Raptor ElectricRaptor Electric


Our only beef comes from Atkinson himself, asserting "I can do what GM couldn't." Well, kinda; He certainly can build an electric car for an estimated $85,000, but it won't pass basic FMVSS vehicle requirements much less IIHS crash testing methodologies, hasn't been certified for sale in the US, hasn't undergone durability and environmental testing, doesn't have anyone to assemble it, factories to support the production, a distribution network, warehouses of parts to maintain it... or a rabid market ready to snap up expensive two-seat all-electric sports cars with limited range. So yes, he can do it, in a one off, and GM isn't going to repay the taxpayers with incredibly expensive one-offs. [NBC Bay Area]


Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Suicidal Wave Ride: This is INSANE!

Biggest Barrel Of My Life!!!

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Click below for the full sequence

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I had been out for 6 hours before I got this wave. It had been really slow all day and I hadn’t had any good ones yet. Then this mountain came roaring out from the horizon I got tingles (goose bumps) all over as soon as I saw it. I looked up at Hippo (Ryan Hipwood) who was on the jet ski and he didn’t even smile he just said “this things huge.”

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It actually wasn’t my turn when this wave came. It was Mitch Rawlin’s go. He’s the craziest lid rider i’ve ever surfed with. He’s ridden the biggest waves at this break I have ever seen. His partner started towing him in. They took a more straight on line into the wave coming from directly behind to avoid the bumps you hit if you come across from the left.

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I didn’t really even think, I just yelled out to Hippo go go! I’ll go behind him! Hippo just took off. We were coming into the wave from left to right and Rawlin’s and his driver were coming straight in behind the wave. It put me on the inside and i thought I would just try and pull into the barrel behind Mitch and we’d both get barreled and make it out. Ive done this before a couple of times but on way smaller waves. Hippo was yelling out to them go go go!

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Luckily for me, Mitch didn’t end up going. Afterwards he said that he wasn’t in a good position so he just let me go (owe you one!). The wave sucked so hard off the reef that I don’t think that we both could of ridden different lines without colliding. In this shot i’ve got the full wing span going, just trying not to get sucked up the face and into that lip above my head.

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It was really hard to read the wave at this point. Once a wave gets over 1o – 12ft, you can’t really see the top of the wave in you peripheral vision. You have have to really turn your head and look up to be able to see what’s going to happen next. I was way too scared of falling to turn and look up at the top of the wave here. There was still so much water sucking off the reef. I just kept my eyes right in front of me and hoped the corner of the barrel wasn’t about to lip me in the head.

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Luckily it didn’t! I think it was about here that I could here the boys screaming in the channel.

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Big barrels feel like they are alive. They suck all the air inside. Thats what surfers mean when they say they felt the wave take a breath.

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This is the moment that you just don’t want to end you feel like your surrounded by the whole ocean. All the hard work is done. The air has no where left to go and just gets spat out into the channel, taking you with it. This is the feeling that keeps coming back over and over and over again.

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That all happened in about 10 or 15 sec!

Rendering of Upcoming Sears Skydeck Ledge

1 of 3: Artist's rendering of the Sears Tower's Skydeck Ledge, to be installed in summer 2009.



2 of 3: Artist's rendering of the Sears Tower's Skydeck Ledge, to be installed in summer 2009.



3 of 3: Artist's rendering of the Sears Tower's Skydeck Ledge, to be installed in summer 2009.

15 Spy Gadgets From Movies and Television We All Want


spygadget 15 Spy Gadgets From Movies and Television We All Want

When we were kids, spy movies inspired playground fantasies of chasing bad guys and solving mysteries. As we grew up, the playing stopped, but somewhere within everyone who enjoyed watching Sean Connery cruise his Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger lies a dormant desire to strap up with spy gadgets and save the world from certain doom. These gadgets are an integral part of any good spy movie. Everyone loves explosions and gunfire, but there’s something uniquely exhilarating about watching Q unveil his latest contraptions and eagerly anticipating how they would used. Below are the 15 coolest movie gadgets that any fan of action and suspense would love to own.

The Copter Hat From Inspector Gadget

copterhat inspector gadget 15 Spy Gadgets From Movies and Television We All Want

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Inspector Gadget might not have been the most adroit spy in the world, but he sure had a convenient way of getting around. Sleuthing across a city presents numerous travel problems: morning traffic, mid-day traffic, evening traffic, crowded sidewalks, crowded buses, an utter dearth of taxicabs, etc. For all the amazing super-cars that spies traditionally drive, nothing compares to the transportation power of a concealed personal helicopter under your fedora. While Bond might be stuck behind a bus that keeps stopping every half-block, Gadget would just up and fly across town with nothing slowing him down (and never has to worry about finding parking at his destination.)

Mobile Phone From Tomorrow Never Dies

ericsson jb988 08 15 Spy Gadgets From Movies and Television We All Want

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Today’s mobile phones can outperform desktop PCs, but in 1997, most of us were lucky to have a functioning phone that fit in our knapsack. However, in Tomorrow Never Dies , 007 was connected to MI6 with a futuristic mobile phone boasting several unique features. Its built-in fingerprint scanner read prints left behind by perpetrators and instantly revealed their identities. The phone also served as a stun gun for close quarter encounters and missions where firing a gun would tip off enemies. Finally, Bond’s phone doubled as a remote control for his BMW, allowing him to drive it from afar, and to summon the car to him when the route was too fraught with danger.

X-Ray Glasses From The World Is Not Enough

shades 15 Spy Gadgets From Movies and Television We All Want

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James Bond’s two biggest loves were always stopping villains and chasing trim. Not surprisingly, one of 007’s favorite weapons were the x-ray glasses that helped him do both. After all, any respectable spy should be able to enjoy a night at the casino while surreptitiously spotting weapons on some people and scoping out lingerie on others (a capability Bond was never shy about using.) Never one to be taken by surprise, Bond always knew who his aggressors were, and possessed the tactical advantage of preparing himself accordingly.

Cigarette Dart Gun From You Only Live Twice

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Cigarettes kill, but Bond’s cigarette dart gun made sure you didn’t even have to smoke to meet your demise. A brilliant little weapon, the gun looked just like an ordinary cigarette, except when you lit it, a rocket-propelled dart flew out and exploded upon impact with Bond’s target. These days such a weapon might be less practical, now that smoking in most indoor public places is illegal. But outside all bets are off, and a man lighting up a cigarette in the shadows might be the last thing a hoodlum sees before it all goes black. It also comes in handy for breaking out of locked rooms and holding cells, as Bond ingeniously demonstrated in You Only Live Twice.

Explosive Chewing Gum From Mission: Impossible

MI3 explosion

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Tom Cruise introduced meanest stick of Wrigley’s the world had ever seen in 1996’s Mission: Impossible. Dubbed “Red Light, Green Light” gum, the stick of candy was anything but child’s play. One side of the gum was red and the other was green. When combined, they produced a big enough explosion to knock a helicopter clear out of the sky. And this gum carries more risks than a toothache; it seems that the agent had to be quite precise to avoid falling victim to his own secret weapon. Hazards notwithstanding, adhesive, explosive gum has endless uses and rescued Cruise from numerous sticky situations. Pun intended.

TV-Wristwatch From Octopussy

007 tvwatch 15 Spy Gadgets From Movies and Television We All Want

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It’s tough to top the swashbuckling image of James Bond receiving video intelligence feeds and cable television on his arm thanks to his TV-enabled wristwatch in Octopussy. We might be able to watch YouTube clips from our iPhones, but we’re still waiting to call up ESPN or FX on our wrists. Interestingly, a company actually attempted to sell a television wristwatch with meager success a few months before the movie’s release. Sadly, the watch required wearing a headset for sound and a bulky receiver for the TV signal. Their impractical burdens outweighed their benefits, and almost no one wore them after the novelty wore off.

Contact Lens Video Camera From I Spy

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For situations where even hidden sunglass cameras are too conspicuous, contact lens video cameras ensure you don’t miss a frame of the room or get a chest full of lead in the process. In I Spy, Eddie Murphy sports one of these innocuous oculars and sings some Marvin Gaye to Owen Wilson. Not exactly the most fascinating use for such bleeding-edge technology, but then again, I Spy wasn’t exactly a blockbuster flick, either. Nonetheless, the lenses made for some serious intrigue. (Although it does beg the question of how contact lenses containing wires and video transmitters were still transparent enough to see through.)

Lighter With 83 Options From Our Man Flint

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For a lighter with more options than a fully loaded Maserati, one must wonder how there is still ample room for fluid in the Lighter With 83 Options. Boasting such exotic features as steel-cutting lasers and impact explosion triggers, the lighter may well be all a spy needs to complete his mission and smoke a celebratory cigar. The movie Our Man Flint was more of a comedy than a serious spy thriller, and unfortunately we never did get to see what the majority of those 82 other options consisted of. The only foreseeable problem with using such a gadget in the field might be the sizable manual one would have to carry in order avoid confusing “option 57” from “option 75,” or other similar, perhaps disastrous mistakes.

The Swiss Army Knife From Get Smart

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Every secret agent needs his trusty pocketknife. Hundreds of potential scenarios call for a versatile multi-tool, but Maxwell Smart’s special issue Swiss Army knife goes a few steps beyond the model you might have toted as a young boy scout. For starters, the pocketknife came equipped with a flamethrower that could roast opposition up to six feet away. When greater distance stood between Agent Smart and his targets, the knife’s built-in blowgun with poison tipped darts took center stage. A folding scope was also included for ease of targeting. Lastly, the Swiss Army tool boasted a pocket crossbow that fired harpoons connected to spider-silk nano-silk with the holding capacity of steel cable. All told, it’s hard to imagine a situation in which this little gadget wouldn’t assist Max in making his getaway.

The Pontiac GTO From XxX

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James Bond was always famous for having slick and super-equipped rides, often featuring exotic weapons or invisible cloaks that allowed him to avert disaster with vigor and aplomb. When it comes to the most action-packed spy car ever assembled, however, even Bond would be jealous of Xander Cage’s 1967 Pontiac GTO. Aside from being one of the most powerful and capable muscle cars in American history, Cage’s GTO was an all-out war machine, capable of taking down any one foolish enough to stand in front of his lead foot. Twin rocket launchers took care any vehicles in hot-rod tank’s path, while exploding hubcaps dispensed with ill-intentioned tailgaters. Just to err on the side of too much weaponry, the car also came stocked with a flamethrower in the event Cage ran into any unexpected opposition. For defense and escape, the car featured parachutes for slowing (or soaring off roadside cliffs, as agents so often do) and an ejection driver’s seat for when you’ve gotten in a bit over your head. In an age where European super-cars dominate action movies, XxX offered a sorely-needed tribute to this ferocious piece of American muscle.

Shoe phone From Get Smart

ShoePhone 15 Spy Gadgets From Movies and Television We All Want

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In an age where cellular phones can fit in the palm of a toddler’s hand, the shoe phone from the original TV series Get Smart might not be today’s most desired spy gadget. But in its day, the clunky device was both top of the line and humorous to watch. The 2008 movie featured a modern version of the shoe phone, which was a bit sleeker, but still no match for an iPhone 3GS. (Then again, even the most suave spy can only look so good talking into a size 11 shoe.) Still, agents need a lot of pocket room, and cell phones just take up space. Store it in your shoe and that’s more room for cyanide pills, exploding dental floss and the like. No matter how you look at it, the shoe phone may not have been sexy, but it sure was funny.

The Eyeball Camera From Doomsday

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One might assume that getting your eyeball destroyed in a military riot would be a bad thing. For many of us, it would. For Major Eden Sinclair, though, this childhood trauma enabled her to take utilize one of the most intriguing spy gadgets in recent memory. The cybernetic Eyeball Camera can be slid into her eye socket and provide binocular sight, or dislodged and rolled down a hallway where it acts as a pivoting video transmitter. The feed can be watched by Sinclair on her wristwatch from anywhere nearby. This portable and inconspicuous surveillance gadget is infinitely helpful in planning out your room clearing tactics before bursting in all-guns-blazing.

Golden Gun from The Man With The Golden Gun

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Perhaps the most famous James Bond gadget of all, the Golden Gun consisted of a pen, a cigarette lighter, and a cufflink. It sounds like something MacGyver would whip up, but Bond had him beat with this flashy firearm. The downside is that the weapon only held one bullet, but fortunately, that was usually all Bond needed to put down the villain on the receiving end of the 24-karat barrel. The bullet could travel a distance too; it’s just too bad he was unable to build a model with a high- capacity clip. Then the bad guys would really be in for a gleaming spray of death.

The Neuralizer From Men In Black

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Secret agents do more than just battle terrorists and organized crime: they also fight against the worst scum of the universe. These agents are known as the Men In Black, and their slickest gadget is one of the most practical for daily use. A small, portable memory erasing device, the Neuralizer is an MIB agent’s most important tool. All the agent has to do is flash the bulb at the intended person or crowd and stand back as their memory of what just happened is erased. If the person has witnessed something top-secret, the agent can erase their memory of the event, and then offer some neutral explanation for it (for example: “There was a gas leak”). Men in black always wear dark black sunglasses that are specially constructed to protect them against the effects of the Neuralizer.

Cell Phone Sonar From The Dark Knight

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Imagine the ability to see every square inch of a city simultaneously. You could track your friends, incriminate your enemies, and locate almost anything you desired. This is the kind of power that Batman wielded in 2008’s soon-to-be-classic The Dark Knight. Using a multitude of flat-screen displays, Batman could view anywhere in Gotham City on a massive, ostentatious machine. There was no need to set up cameras on every street, either. Rather, the machine locked onto every cellular phone signal in the city and repurposed the phones’ speakers as sonar emitters. In this way, everyone and everything could be imaged using sound waves broadcasted from the phones. Such power quickly leads to corruption, and that’s why the machine came with its own self-destruct system to ensure that it was only used for its expressed purpose.

Arizona approves bill allowing guns in bars

Critics of the measure say guns and alcohol are dangerous combination
The Associated Press

PHOENIX - The Arizona Senate has given final approval to a bill that would allow people with concealed weapons permits to carry a gun into a business that serves alcohol.

The 19-8 vote completes legislative action on the bill and sends it to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer. She has not said whether she will sign it, but she has long been a supporter of gun rights.

The measure has pitted powerful groups representing gun and bar owners against each other, sparking a debate about whether guns and alcohol can coexist without bloodshed.

Critics of the measure say guns and alcohol are a dangerous combination.

"We don't let people drink and drive, why should we let them drink and carry guns?" said Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson, who voted against the bill.

Supporters say they should be able to protect themselves and their families even if they happen to be inside a business serving alcohol.

"It's very important that criminals are now afraid rather than law abiding citizens," said Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, the bill's sponsor.

The measure would ban drinking while packing and allow restaurants to deny entry to gun-toting citizens by posting a sign next to their liquor license.

The bill initially required that a bar serving alcohol also serve food, but that provision was removed at the request of bar owners who worried about uncertainty over which bars have kitchens.

Forty other states have approved similar measures, according to the National Rifle Association.

Former Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, vetoed a similar bill earlier this decade that would not have required people to have concealed weapons permits in order to carry guns in bars.

More than 127,000 Arizonans have concealed weapons permits, which require a gun safety course and background check, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Home-Built 2700 HP Jet-Truck Is The Coolest Truck Ever!


By Ray Wert

In a bid to give his 2005 Ford F-150 more power, Jackson, Michigan native Chris Lentz strapped a Czechoslovakian Motorlet M-701 turbojet to the truck bed, creating a 2700HP jet-powered truck. It's the coolest truck we've ever seen. Video below.


We'll let Automobile tell the story:

"
The fifty-five-year-old electrical foreman from Jackson, Michigan, had longed for a jet-powered truck for decades. Two years ago, Lentz discovered a way to realize his dream when he met a pilot from New York who imported used turbojet engines. After watching an example run on a test stand, Lentz paid $10,000 for one. Obtaining a rolling platform for his new toy was a bit easier. Lentz bought a used 2005 Ford F-150 STX on eBay for $12,000.

To install the jet in the truck, Lentz fabricated a sturdy mounting stand, a twenty-gallon kerosene tank, and a control console from aluminum and stainless steel. His decorative touches include a red, white, and blue nose cone and a 2700 HP badge (not divulged is the 516-mph velocity needed to achieve that power level).

So what's that mean for performance? Automobile claims:

"Without jet assist, Lentz's 231-hp V-8 accelerated its 6600-pound burden (truck, jet engine, two occupants) to 60 mph in a sluggish 14.5 seconds. We recorded a quarter-mile speed of 73 mph and a top speed of 85 mph.

The best of three runs in hybrid mode - exploiting both piston and jet propulsion - trimmed six seconds from the sprint to 60 mph. The quarter-mile speed jumped 30 mph and we achieved 140 mph after 45 seconds of acceleration."

Whoa! That seems pretty slow to us. Maybe it's because of that whole 6600 lb thing. Meh, still pretty damn cool!

Photo Credit: John Roe For Automobile Magazine

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