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About Us and our Previous Automotive Projects


Dobbertin Performance Innovations is owned and operated by Rick Dobbertin,

with the support of his wife, Mary Dobbertin.



For the past three decades, Rick has dedicated much of his life to the design and fabrication of innovative, one-of-a-kind vehicles. Every component that went into their construction was hand built and/or selected by Rick, and there was never a compromise on quality or workmanship.  (Well… almost never.)


The first of Rick’s more publicized automotive innovations was a ground-breaking twin-turboed, 6-71 supercharged 454 Chevy powered 1965 Nova SS, which was awarded Hot Rod Magazine’s 1982 Street Machine of the Year, and won both the 1982 and 1983 Car Craft Street Machine Nationals.


Rick chose the ’65 Nova due to its “boxy” shape and widespread appeal among hot rodders.  The car was bought from the original owner with only 21,000 miles, so it made the perfect starting point.


(Click on Photo to Open Photo Gallery)



A few years later, Rick began plans for an even more radical Pro-Streeter.  He decided to begin with an extremely narrow and small body as a starting point to better accentuate the engine, wheel and tire modifications.


Due to its small size, he decided that the starting point would be a 1985 Pontiac J-2000, which would feature a tubular stainless steel frame, 24” wide rear tires and a twin-turboed, twin supercharged, nitrous injected all-aluminum small block Chevy mated to a 4-speed Lenco transmission.  There was only 8.25” between the rear tires, yielding a real 'steamroller' effect from the rear.


The car was awarded Hot Rod Magazine’s prestigious 1986 Hot Rod of the Year and went on to win all four of the major national magazine sponsored shows in 1986 – The Hot Rod Supernationals, The Popular Hot Rodding Super Street Meet, The Car Craft Street Machine Nationals and the Hot Rod Super Cruise.  Revell model company even offered the J-2000 as a scale model kit.


In Hot Rod Magazine’s 50th Anniversary issue, (January 1998) the J-2000 was called “The Ultimate Evolution of Pro Street” by the editorial staff. Ten years later, in their 60th Anniversary issue, (January 2008) it was listed as #41 in their list of “The 100 Most Influential Hot Rods of all Time.”

(Click on Photo to Open Photo Gallery)



Always looking for a challenge, Rick’s next project would be a thirty-two foot long amphibious craft, The Dobbertin Surface Orbiter.  The Orbiter began life as a 1959 Heil milk tank trailer.  Rick decided this would make a suitable starting point for an amphibian, surmising that if it was designed to keep the milk inside – it should also work pretty well at keeping the water outside.


The idea behind 'Project Earth-Trek' was to circumnavigate the Earth, over land and sea without any type of support vessel.  The craft was powered by a 250-hp GM 6.5Liter turbo diesel that was converted to marine use by Peninsular Diesel.


The trip, which covered 30,000 miles on land and 3,000 miles at sea, traveling through 28-countries and 38-states fell short of the original goal, mainly due to the lack of funding.  But, it did make a record as the first amphibious vehicle to pass through the Panama Canal. (The last two photos.)


During the expedition, the Orbiter encountered everything on land from the smooth, well-kept highways of the United States to the pot-holed, wash-boarded dirt paths in the frontier of Colombia.


While on the water, the Orbiter encountered every sea condition from the dead-calm waters in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York to eighteen-foot seas in the Caribbean’s Mona Passage on a crossing from The Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico.

(Click on Photo to Open Photo Gallery)



Throughout the Orbiter's trip, Rick was amazed by the interest generated by the Orbiter and decided the next project would be another amphibious craft. 


So, after nearly two years on the drawing board, Rick began fabrication on a full-scale prototype of The Dobbertin HydroCar. The craft is powered by a 762-hp 572 Chevy, which runs through a GM 4-L80E automatic transmission to a front axle for the road – or an Arneson Surface Drive for the water.


The Dobbertin HydroCar is unlike any other amphibian on the planet.  On land the side sponsons are raised up and act as the vehicle's fenders.  On the water the sponsons are pneumatically forced down to transform the craft into a tunnel-hulled watercraft.

(Click on Photo to Open Photo Gallery)



Since the last two projects, Rick has been concentrating on mid engined vehicles, including a 1979 Manta Mirage kit car, and a 1994 Chevy S-10.  There's just something about a mid engined car...



(It's basically a Go-Kart with 500+ hp!)

Check out the photos below.

With the front adapter finally available, our Patented Modular Suspension Design opens up an entire new arena for the Do-It-Yourself builder.

It's an LS-3 powered, Corvette C5 suspended, all-aluminum, bolt-together frame, based on our suspension adapter - configured as a Type 3 style drivetrain.

The transmission is a 4L60E, modified by RPM Transmissions, from Anderson IL.

(more information on RPM Transmissions on our Manufacturer's Links page.)

The torque tube is eliminated and replaced with a Camaro-style bellhousing, allowing a Corvette differential to be used in this high tech kit.

This particular vehicle has a 104.5" wheelbase - the same as the C5 Corvette, with the same front WMS (Wheel Mounting Surface) to WMS width as the C5 Corvette.  The rear WMS to WMS has been stretched, giving an additional 3" width.

This could be built as a one or two passenger vehicle, with the second seat to the side or to the rear of the driver.

It weighs in a 1,369 pounds.  With a completed engine and trans, a roll bar and harnesses, radiator and exhaust, we estimate the final weight to be from 1,800 to 1,900 pounds!

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