Bentley Continental GT ‘Ultratank’ makes tracks in Russia. Literally
When the automotive news cycle last turned its attention to Russia, it was to celebrate the maniacs who’d linked three cheap four-cylinder engines to create a 12-cylinder Lada. Our newest visit to the motherland is for the diametric opposite: a first-generation Bentley Continental GT placed on a custom set of heavy duty tracks. Created by Russian YouTube channel AcademeG, the navy blue mutant is called the Ultratank, and its waiting for its close-up in the Akira sequel.
Chronicling the build began last August, sometime after AcademeG’s presenter bought the cheapest Continental GT he could find. Seems that kind of purchase is a cautionary tale in Russia as much as it is here, because the Bentley’s 6.0-liter, twin-turbo W12 needed a list of expensive repairs, starting with new turbos. It appears that was the cue to throw out the whole engine, drivetrain, and frame.
AcademeG took the coupe to Swap-Point, who replaced the stock motor with Toyota’s Japanese-market 4.3-liter V8 used in the Toyota Crown Majesta, Celsior, and Soarer and Lexus GS, LS, and SC 430. The engine sends power to a solid rear axle only through a torque converter automatic. From there, the twist is transferred to a set of heavy vehicle tracks measuring 98.4 inches long. The Bentley’s passenger tub and upper portions mostly survived the transformation, but tube-frame construction replaced the stock architecture front and rear.
Nine months later, the Ultratank has taken its first steps. The Russians took their baby into the woods to play, and – watched by some goats and shepherds – proved they got it mostly right in spite of a few issues. Running on treads is often done best in low revs, but the engine doesn’t like low revs. There wasn’t enough tension on the tracks, and the rubber nubs aligning the tracks with the wheels aren’t substantial enough, so the tracks rolled off the wheels during hard cornering. And there are no brakes. Slowing down requires sawing at the wheel, which brakes the inside tread as the Ultratank starts to turn.
Even so, the vehicle and the test were declared a success. The team will tune the engine, add doors and tweak the tracks, but according to YouTube’s Russian translation, “everything is simply ideal.” You can check out the entire build while awaiting updates on the next big changes, including a higher top speed: The Ultratank tops out at 31 miles per hour now, and AcademeG wants to double that. When that happens, the Ultratank will run about as fast as the Ultratank fan-built RC car that Russian YouTuber Pasha Es built to celebrate the original – but with a cooler stereo.