A few years ago when Paul Branham was one of the pilots of the Boilermaker Special he invited me up for the debut of the Special VII. It is now in year 6 of operation and is going strong, but Purdue’s other special (known as the Special VI or X-tra Special) has seen better days. the current X-tra special is the second, smaller version built on a golf cart chassis and originally debuted in 1979 as Boilermaker Special IV. It was replaced with the current VI on October 19, 1996, so it has been in service for almost 21 years.
That’s quite a long time for the X-tra special, and it is officially going into retirement. Tomorrow will be the official debut of Boilermaker Special VIII, the third version of the X-tra Special. This is the version that leads the team onto the field at football games and sits in the tunnel at basketball games.
Earlier today the official BMS twitter released a sneak peek of Boilermaker Special VIII:
The Boilermaker Xtra Special VIII is coming to campus! https://t.co/cIq4BupvGk— Boilermaker Special (@BMSVII) October 6, 2017
We will obviously get a better view tomorrow, but it looks like this version will be a bit different from the BMS VI. It seems appropriate that it debuts on the day we honor coach Tiller, as the retiring Special VI is the one that led his teams onto the field for 12 years.
I can’t wait to see it!
Here is the timeline of each Boilermaker Special:
Boilermaker Special I: 1940-1953 (original brass bell from this Special is in use on Special VII)
Boilermaker Special II: 1953-1960
Boilermaker Special III: 1960-1993 (longest serving Special, some parts still in use on Special VII)
Boilermaker Special IV (X-tra Special I): 1979-1996
Boilermaker Special V: September 25, 1993 - August 9, 2011
Boilermaker Special VI (X-tra Special II): October 19,1996 - October 6, 2017
Boilermaker Special VII: August 9, 2011 - present (many of the same body parts from Special V, but with a new engine, transmission, and chassis)
Boilermaker Special VIII (X-tra Special III): October 7, 2017 - ?