If you thought the Transformers were only in the movies, you’ve never been to Lake Havasu City on the California/Arizona border. The Colorado River cuts through the desert tourist spot, but up on the north end of town, an airport hangar holds what looks like Optimus Prime’s bigger and more badass older brother: THOR 24.
Dreamed up by Southern California land developer Mike Harrah and built over a seven-year period by Harrah with Tim Spinks and Paul Abram, the truck has so much going on it’s hard to focus on just one facet. It’s safe to say, however, each detail is as impressive as the next. “Big Mike,” as he’s called, stands six feet, five inches tall and has a personality to match—as you’d expect from the guy behind a wild truck where everything has been amplified to 11.
The engines command the majority of your initial attention—they’re twin 12V-71 two-stroke Detroit Diesel engines (for 24 total cylinders) mated nose-to-nose and topped with eight BDS 8-71 superchargers. This Detroit Diesel engine has a long, important history as industrial and marine powerplants, and each 12V-71 comes “stock” with twin Roots-type blowers located between the cylinder banks—which means THOR has a total of 12 blowers. The build team figured out how to butt the engines together with a splined shaft, giving the new, dual-engine layout a final displacement of 1,704 cubic inches—or an incredible 27.9 liters.
After using a wooden buck to help design the massive intake manifold, it was eventually crafted from thick aluminum plate and then configured to hold eight superchargers driven off a single custom driveshaft. That shaft is 103 inches long and weighs 263 pounds all on its own, and it runs longitudinally inside the manifold’s airbox above the engines. The top of the manifold is also the base for eight NOS nitrous bottles.
The engines exhale through 24 zoomie-type exhaust headers, and Harrah says that, at 2,500 rpm, the engines produce 3,424 horsepower. In the high-performance world of blowers and big engines, that might not sound like a lot but the setup looks incredible—and the sound is out of this world. The 44-foot-long, 30,000-pound truck’s powertrain also includes a chromed Allison HT740 transmission that spins a locker-type rear axle that’s been completely ground smooth, filled, and chromed. To be honest, nearly everything on this truck—which is based around a 1979 359 Peterbilt cab—is either chromed or covered in a wild paint job.
The stock Peterbilt semi-truck front suspension and steering wouldn’t work—Harrah wanted to be able to turn and steer it in a smaller radius—so THOR features a VanHool A-arm type suspension system usually used in buses and coaches. The chassis itself is made from twin 4×14-inch sections of rectangular tubing with 3/8-inch thick walls; the tubes are 40 feet long and support a Peterbilt Air Leaf suspension. The rig also rides on Alcoa aluminum wheels wrapped in 315/30R22.5 tires up front and and 11R24.5s at the rear.
The cab is more of a command center for the truck’s whole operation and is packed with stuff to ogle, switches to throw, and gauges to watch. There are no fewer than 24 Autometer gauges in the polished aluminum instrument panel (with Big Mike’s profile engraved in the center), which sits forward of a four-spoke Steering Creations steering wheel. Among the readouts: a 200-mph speedometer, a 6,000-rpm tachometer, and a handful of pressure and blower gauges; six additional blower pressure gauges are mounted in the middle of the dash.
Dual Moon footprint aluminum pedals are fitted, and Lake Havasu’s Main Stitch got the call to cover the interior with black diamond-stitch upholstery for the headliner, dark gray industrial carpeting on the floor, and black leather for the front bucket seats and rear bench seating. Multipoint Simpson Platinum racing belts are installed for both driver and passenger. Big Mike loves his cigars, and a special pocket in the driver’s door frame allows him to carry a box of his favorite Padron 1926 Series No.9 Natural stogies. Between the buckets is a Conan-style double-edged broadsword—one of many found in and around the truck, along with dozens of chromed skulls and some axes—that serves as the truck’s shifter.
The front passenger door of the stretched and widened aluminum cab opens Lambo-style off a pin mounted behind a broadaxe on the cab’s exterior. Another broadsword mounted between the front and rear doors is just for decoration. Looking forward around the rows of blowers is a bit of a trick, but in the cab and above the driver are four 4×6 video screens that are used to see what’s on the road ahead of THOR.
Entertainment is available in the “crew” section of the cab, which has a 40-inch TV screen and a 1,500-watt audio system. Mounted behind the cab is a Hawker Jet helicopter engine that powers auxiliary generator for the truck. Another custom addition is the massively oversized and stylized 1933 Ford–inspired aluminum grille, fabricated in California by Marcel’s Custom Metal. The whole semi was covered with PPG Envirobase waterborne Candy Red paint (applied by Glenn Bohannon at Brothers Auto Body in Lake Havasu City) that was followed up with multi-colored flames and an amazing graphics scheme that included murals (from SKC Customz) and old-school pinstriping (by Havasu’s Chris Snead).
Seeing this truck on the road must evoke the same feeling folks had when Howard Hughes flew his H-4 Hercules (a.k.a. the Spruce Goose) in Southern California’s Long Beach Harbor in 1947, as it it’s strange to see something so massive moving under its own power, bouncing a bit to the rhythm of the idling blowers and the 40-foot chassis gently torquing up and down as it rolls on by. But, as Big Mike says, “The problem isn’t getting it up above 100 mph, it’s stopping it once you do!” We imagine it would be like trying to stop a freight train, only without the railroad tracks. But it does have four 12-foot Simpson drag parachutes packed across the rear bumper just in case!
If this build isn’t astonishing enough, back in the hanger where Mike parks this beast is another similarly sized stretched semi in the middle of construction. This one, already nicknamed Medusa, is a mid-engine (with another twin 12V-71 layout), drag-racing version of THOR. Mike Harrah definitely dreams big, and we can’t wait to see both rigs together down the line.
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