NHRA Motorsport Museum

Tommy Ivo's four-engine Showboat

After enjoying great success in performance and crowd appeal with a twin-engine Buick in the late 1950s, "T.V. Tommy" Ivo figured that if two were good, four had to be better, so he built his now-famed four-wheel-drive Showboat dragster using four Buick powerplants. The vehicle, which is on display at the NHRA Motorsports Museum in its updated form as a Funny Car, was, according to Ivo, "the car that really made my career. It was built as a serious race car, not an exhibition vehicle, and it ran competitive numbers for its time."

(© 1999 NHRA Photographic Services)
Ivo encountered two problems with the project, however. One was the difficulty in safely shutting down the relatively overweight entry after crossing the finish line; the other was the objection of the producers of his Margie television series. "They just about went into cardiac arrest when they saw the car at the photo studio, where we were going to shoot a cover for Hot Rod magazine. They made me put another driver in the car after that."

Ivo plans to build a replica of the four-engine Showboat in its original dragster form, which will also be on display at the NHRA Motorsports Museum.

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