Art Arfons’s famed Cyclops jet dragster was a prolific machine in its time. The giant jet engine on wheels held Bonneville records (one of which still stands), was converted into a boat for a water speed record attempt, and made untold hundreds of runs at drag strips and events across north America between 1962 and 1970. If we had to take a guess, more people got a glimpse of what a “jet car” was from seeing the Cyclops than they did from any of the other touring jet dragsters of that time. What most of those people didn’t know was that the nose cone of the dragster was an old industrial lamp shade and that they were looking at one of the great homebuilt creations to ever grace the drags.
On my last trip to the Wilmington Mile, I managed to hook up with my friend Shari Arfons, wife of Tim Arfons who is the son of Art. Got that? Good. Anyway, she had offered me the opportunity to see two of Art’s creations and I wasn’t going to miss that chance. Enter the third party in this exercise, a man named Bob Jones. Bob has an extensive car collection (which I will be covering in its own blog next week) and he is providing a home for both the Cyclops car and the last car that Art ever built and drove at Bonneville. Bob is an Akron native, an incurable hot rodder, and a great guy to allow a scrubby looking journalist to sneak in and mingle with his awesome collection on a weekday afternoon while he was trying to make a living. Again, more on Bob next week.
Before getting to Bob’s, the car had previously been in a motorsports hall of fame up in Michigan that folded up or ran into some other sorts of trouble. Not wanting anything untoward to happen to the iconic dragster, Tim went on a rescue mission and brought it home. Bob had the room and the life long connection to the area, family, and racing. It was a great match.
WE’RE GOING TO TELL YOU THE STORY THROUGH PHOTOS AND CAPTIONS BELOW SO SCROLL DOWN TO LEARN ABOUT THE FAMOUS CYCLOPS!