By on December 8, 2015


The Jewish festival of Chanukah, pronounced Hanukkah by those who can’t handle guttural phonemes, starts on the 25th of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar, which corresponds this year to the evening of December 6th. Chanukah is an event that should resonate with car enthusiasts — after all, it celebrates a miracle involving oil (well, that and a victory in a military/cultural/civil war with the Seleucid Greeks and Hellenistic Jews).

After defeating the Seleucids and reclaiming Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, the Hasmonean Jews (aka Maccabees) found that there was only sufficient consecrated oil to light the Temple’s seven branched menorah, which was supposed to burn continuously, for just one day. It took about a week to prepare and purify new consecrated oil and, as the story goes, that one small jar of oil miraculously burned for eight days, till there was sufficient new oil.

It’s sort of like driving without changing the oil that came in your car from the factory and finding that the insides of the engine look pristine after 200,000 miles.

To celebrate and publicize the events of yore, Jews light candles for the eight nights of the festival, starting with one and adding another for each night. The candelabra used for Chanukah typically has nine branches, one for each candle and a ninth, called the shammas (sexton/beadle) that is used to light the others and sits apart from them.


There are differing rabbinic opinions as to the exact shape of the Menorah used in the Temple in Jerusalem. Maimonides, the great rabbi and physician, held that the branches were straight.

There are differing rabbinic opinions as to the exact shape of the Menorah used in the Temple in Jerusalem. Maimonides, the great rabbi and physician, held that the branches were straight. Traditional designs are popular, but Chanukah menorahs can be just about any shape as long as the lights are on the same horizontal line.

Technically speaking, a nine-branched Chanukah candelabra is called a Chanukiah. The word menorah, from the Hebrew word for something that enlightens, is actually the name of the seven-branched candelabra that was used in the Sanctuary on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, but today menorah is usually associated with Chanukah.


Actually, just about anything that burns fuel or can hold a candle or lamp oil can be used to make a Chanukiah, though it’s preferred to use a fuel that burns cleanly as was used in the Temple, such as pure olive oil. When I was a kid, my father discovered that .38 bullet casings are the perfect size to hold commercial Chanukah candles.


Later, friends of mine who served in the Israel Defense Forces told me of making menorahs of 25 mm casings from the coaxial guns of their armored vehicles and using those vehicle’s diesel as fuel while in the field. Jews in concentration camps during the Holocaust scavenged what they could, in one case using shoe polish for fuel and thread from a camp uniform as wicks. Even a small light can chase away darkness.

TTAC colleague David Holzman has made decorative menorahs out of engine valves. They’re considered  decorative because his “candlesticks” are arranged in a circle. To be a kosher Chanukah menorah, acceptable for ritual use, all eight lights have to be in a straight row and at the same level so you can see distinct flames.

As long as you have a place to keep the shammas, things that come in sets of eight are useful. Fortunately, because of eight cylinder engines, lots of car stuff comes in sets of eight. Murilee Martin thought an exhaust manifold from a straight eight might work.


I happen to think that velocity stacks improve the look of anything.


It doesn’t necessarily have to come in sets of eight. Steve Lang suggested chrome exhaust tips, though those would take some pretty big candles.

duesenber 8 evo

Being a traditionalist I’m not a huge fan of electric menorahs, but I like the idea of a spark plug menorah, and a spark is closer to a flame than a light. I had a cool design that involved a V-8’s distributor cap and wires going up to the plug that reproduced the shape of a classical menorah. I asked my colleagues for advice about wiring and high voltage switches. Murilee pointed out that there might be some liability issues involved in exposed 10,000 volt sparks. Perhaps I can use faux spark plug key chain fobs that use LEDs instead.

duesenberg j keychain

Other possibilities that come to mind: If budget isn’t an issue, a menorah could be the cylinder block or head to a Duesenberg J. To economize, you could substitute something from Packard.

duesenberg j head

Or you could rig up exhaust flame throwers.


What car part would you use to make a menorah?

Note: This is a revised version of a post previously published at my own site.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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21 Comments on “Happy (C)Hanukkah: What Car Parts Would You Use for a Menorah?...”

  • avatar

    Oh god, exhausts not evenly spaced on Lancer. Must…not…look. And OF COURSE they’re from Ohio.

    Also, great beginning scene of film, speaking of Menorah.

    McDermott: Are you sure that’s Paul Allen over there?
    Bryce: Yes. McDufus, I am.
    McDermott: He’s handling the Fisher account.
    Bryce: Lucky bastard.
    McDermott: Lucky Jew bastard.
    Bateman: Jesus, McDermott, what does that have to do with anything?
    McDermott: I’ve seen that bastard sitting in his office, talking on the phone to the CEOs, spinning a f-cking menorah.
    Bateman: Not a menorah. You spin a dreidel.
    McDermott: Oh, my God. Bateman, do you want me to fry you up some f-cking potato pancakes? Some latkes?
    Bateman: No. Just cool it with the anti-Semitic remarks.
    McDermott: Oh, I forgot. Bateman’s dating someone from the ACLU.
    Bryce: The voice of reason… the boy next door.
    [looks at restaurant bill]
    Bryce: Speaking of reasonable, only $570…

  • avatar

    I’ve heard that Chanakkuh is a festival of lights so this is what I’d do:

    Take some of those crazy high-pressure fuel injectors for DI diesel engines, pair each one with a spark plug. Hook them up to an Arduino or RaspberryPi system and have them fire (Hah! Get it?!?) in different, crowd pleasing patterns.

  • avatar

    “those who can’t handle guttural phonemes”

    Pfft… I always carry a snot rag; handles phonemic hockers, too.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Ignition wires from a Lexus LS

  • avatar


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “…though it’s preferred to use a fuel that burns cleanly as was used in the Temple, such as pure olive oil”

    Volkswagen has an app for that.

    PS: Ronnie – thanks for sharing those details, and please enjoy the holiday.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    I’d start with the intake manifold from a Chrysler Slant Six engine. You’d be short a couple of candles, but the shape is perfect.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Interesting article Ronnie.

    I can think of better things to do with car parts than make candle holders. But, if it floats your boat, so be it. (melt the parts to make new vehicles is a start). Hopefully these candlestick holder can be sold for a profit.

    Using religion as a basis for an automotive article is novel.

    I do believe the bombing of Da’esh tankers in groupings of nine could be interpreted as a Chanukiah. This would be more beneficial for your religion than making candle stick holders from car parts. These are truck parts, Amercian’s love their trucks.

  • avatar

    Great article. Just a minor point to clarify.
    It wasn’t Solomons temple it was Zerubbable/Ezra’s temple. The maccabee revolt and ensuing miracle took place during the second temple Era.

    Also there is a artist in Israel that makes Judaica out of exploded rockets launched from Gaza.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for the correction, I was trying to distinguish it from Herod’s temple.

      • 0 avatar

        Lol. Herod would come around a couple hundred years later and build the walls around that same temple. They in fact still stand. The western wall is built on top of herods walls. They actually give tours there under ground. He built them during a brief period of sanity after feeling guilty for slaughtering a bunch of Talmud scholars.

  • avatar

    Not environmentally responsible but…

    8 flaming tires. They might even burn for 8 days. :-)

  • avatar

    Lancia Fulvia V-4 cylinder head, candle in each valve guide, shamos wherever it can fit?

  • avatar

    I like the velocity stacks!

  • avatar

    My first choice would be two manifolds from the Sabra, Israel’s only sports car. For a second choice, I’d take a straight-eight engine block or manifold.

  • avatar

    Nice explanation, Ronnie!

  • avatar

    Blue Streak used to make a high output ignition coil with ribs and red and blue coloring. Looked great in a Hudson engine bay, along side the Twin-H. Line them up with each cylinder on the 262 straight eight from 1950.

  • avatar

    Not automotive related, but this is just too damn good…

    All hail Menorahsaurus Rex!

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