Aeroboat cruises in style with a 1,100-HP V12 Rolls-Royce engine from a WWII fighter plane

Boats inspired by cars aren’t unheard of, but this luxury watercraft features an unusual trifecta of car, boat, and aviation influences.

Set for unveiling at the Salute to Style in London July 16, the Aeroboat is a futuristic-looking water craft with a very old-school powertrain.

The boat has a Rolls-Royce engine, but not the kind you’re likely to find in any of the hallowed carmaker’s products.

For decades, Rolls was both a car company and a manufacturer of airplane engines (the two businesses exist today as separate corporate entities), and during that time it produced one of the most legendary powerplants in aviation history: The Merlin V12.

This mighty engine powered the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane fighters that defended Britain against Axis air attacks during World War II. Built under license by Packard, it also powered later versions of the most famous U.S. fighter of the war, the North American P-51 Mustang.

The engine to be installed in the Aeroboat has documented provenance proving it to be a genuine Merlin, according to Claydon Reeves, the firm that designed the boat.

Rebuilt and converted to fuel injection, the Merlin will be detuned, producing “only” 1,100 horsepower. This will still be enough to get the Aeroboat to speeds of 75 to 95 knots, or around 86 to 109 mph.

The Aeroboat’s styling was inspired by the Spitfire fighter, but rendered in carbon fiber, Kevlar, and a lightweight wood veneer. The blend of WWII fighter-plane lines and modern materials gives it an almost Steampunk, retro-futuristic look.

Production details will be revealed closer to the Aeroboat’s official unveiling, but Claydon Reeves said it will customize individual boats to meet buyer specifications. How about one with an RAF roundel on the side?


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