In all my years of being an auto-buff I had never heard of the Chrysler Turbine. If you are into old cars in general, this is a great read from start to finish with a couple of cool pics thrown in.
As noted in the article, this car was shown at Hershey at one time. Any of you lucky guys who get to that show ever see this?
Leno has one of these, here's a link to the 24 minute video. I've always found it to be a fascinating car.
I have been to the museum in Terra Haute,In. That guy has one. Very rare.
They said, at the time, they thought long and hard about it no being able to get started again after stopping on the hills of San Francisco.
I remember those things well. They got a lot of publicity.
That was a great vid, Christopher! Thanks for posting it. What a neat concept. It would be interesting to see a car company take this challenge up again. It seems like with new tech we could address the issues that were at hand in the early 60s when they tried this.
I drove the Chrysler Turbine when I was in college.
I was the class treasurer at Wentworth - an all boys technical College in Boston.
As I was walking thru the Northeastern University campus on my to our apartment I saw a Group from Chrysler that was showing off the Turbine car, something with a 426 Hemi, and another vehicle but most of the NEU kids were not interested.
I told the guys that if wanted to have a big crowd they needed to go up the street a few blocks to Wentworth.
One of them said that they were interested and asked if I could direct them to someone at the school.
I took them to the Dean who was also my advisor and we worked out a plan for the next day where they would have the cars in the Quad
It was great - I was the host so I had to stay with them. They were there for about 5 hours and almost every one of the 2,000 guys stopped by the cars and asked some interesting questions.
When we finished they asked me if I would like to drive the turbine (Daaah??) (I remember thinking something about a bear in the woods )
The thing that surprised me the most was that it idled at 20,000 rpm and there was no vibration.
The other thing that I remember was -
We were stopped at a light at the end of Storrow Drive and some kids were next to us in a hot car with big smiles on their faces.
The Chrysler guy told me that when the light turned green to press the accelerator all the way to the floor, hang-on AND keep it under 50 MPH -- YA RIGHT!
50 MPH only took a few seconds because the turbine put out most of it's torque at low speeds. I couldn't believe how quick that heavy vehicle was!
Some of the guys stories were really funny -
one of the cars burnt up when someone parked it is a field because to the big exhaust pipe that was under the car was so hot it lit the field on fire.
Sorry for the long post - I hadn't thought about that in years.
I wish I knew what I know today and I was young again!
Fred, were you in the Turbine that had an actual turbine engine or one of the Turbines that survived and had the turbine engine removed and replaced with a hemi?
Either way that is a great story and better memory!
Todays requirement for transportation is among other things low emmision and high milage. The Chrysler turbine failed both.
However - combined with generator, batteries and electric powered drivetrain it might be an interesting alternative - among others because it can combust almost anything liquid and flamable.
I think there is one of the turbine cars at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis. It is usually at the Easter Auto Show in Forest Park.
Is that a first mention for that this year?
Herb, in the Wikipedia article that Danial links to, it says this: "The last turbine car that is functional, owned by the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, was photographed for Mopar Action magazine, and appears at car shows around the United States from time to time."
Yes, you are right. I have seen it both in the museum and at the Easter Show.
Again, a good example of the inaccuracy of Wikipedia. There is sometimes truthful, accurate information on Wiki, but the same can be said of the bathroom walls in a Texaco station.
I know it is a long shot and a long time ago, but do you remember any names? We had a dynamometer cell across the hall from the turbine guys, and I got to know a few of them.
Rode in this car at the 1964/65 New York World's Fair.
Here is what happened to most of the turbine chryslers
I remember the commercials on TV as a kid, especially the part where the voice-over said that they'd run on anything from diesel fuel to lighter fluid.
There was 1 at the Henry ford when I was there.Neat car.Shame they distroyed most of them.
I cant watch utube but what a shame.
A well known orthopedic surgeon where I grew up in Manchester, NH had one for a few months to "test drive". I recall seeing it parked on the streets but never running/driving. It was a really cool looking car.
I worked on a gas turbine powered truck engine when I first started my engineering career. It was in the late 1960's at Solar company in San Diego. The engine used a rotating heat transfer system to salvage part of the exhaust heat. The exhaust would heat radial vanes in a cylindrical configuration. The vanes would rotate to the compressor discharge area where the hot vanes would transfer the heat to the compressed air. Sealing was a giant problem, but it was fuel economy that finally killed the project.
The engine was installed in an IH truck for demonstration purposes. Solar was a division of IH. It had gobs of power. The truck would speedily pass every other truck going up the Grape Vine hill on Highway 5, getting surprised looks from the other truck drivers. But then the other trucks would pass the turbine truck when it had to stop for fuel.
I was at Saturday catechism when I first saw this car. One of the dads brought his kids to school in it. As I recall, it sounded a lot like a circular saw. It had the biggest floor console I'd ever seen.
I don't know if he still has them, but for years there was an antique car dealer on US-24 north of Monroe, MI who had boxes of the promotional booklets for that car.
I have worked as a contracted worker for Chrysler and have been with a running version of the car. It was a experience along with working with the Walter P. Chrysler museum. To the best of my knowllege at one point during testing there were appox 500 working examples being test driven for Chrysler. Of those I have been told that 5 of the original cars remain. Not all of those remain running however. I understand that due to several problems ( heat being one of them) that the program was shelved. I can't say what I was told is true. I was also at the 100th birthday of the automobile at the Michigan State Fair Grounds and saw General Motors attempt with the turbine. They were the Firebird 1,2,3. Sad to say at that time only Firebird 3 was in running condition. While in storage 1 & 2 wiring harness had rodent damage and no attempt to repair them was made. Cool links, brings back memories.
I should have mentioned in my last post. The test drive program only had about 50 original prototype bodies. The rest of the test drive cars were cars built with other current production bodies so that the did not draw any special attention and drive line evaluation was the intrest of these cars.
Had the popular mechanics magazine featuring this car until somebody who is not me decided that old books should be burnt.....
Chrysler was testing the turbine in 1954-54
using a plymouth. I saw one in Tucson Ar.in 55, they were test driving around the US.
As Herb and Dick said, There is one owned
by Museum of Transportation in St. Louis. They usually have it at the Easter show in Forest Park. I have heard it running and it sounds like a giant vacuum cleaner.
The gas turbine is still alive and well in ground vehicles....the M1 tank built by General Dynamics...formerly Chrysler Tank Plant.
I have a promo model of the Chrysler turban car and still enjoy looking at the design even today.
Daniel -- It was an actual Turbine car. They were near the end of the campaign and they were doing a promotional tour of the country.
Shortly after all but 1 or 2 were destroyed.
Roar - I don't remember any of the names.
I lost all their cards and the thick media package with the model in the 1972 flood when we lived in Corning.
Neil - Was that the Ford truck turbine?
When I was in the Process Research Group at Corning we made a ceramic heat exchanger for their gas turbine truck motor. I remember the stories about how it pulled away from other trucks and how easy it was to twist rear axles.
Tom and Steve -- I sounds like a "vacuum cleaner" or "circular saw"? It certainly did sound different! I would love to hear one again!
Mark -- Your right. Many companies have played with Turbine powered cars. Ford, Rover, GM/Pontiac, to name a few and Chrysler made (I think your right - 50) distinctive cars with the brown/gold paint and lent them to customers.
It was things like the turbine and my dad's Model T that made me into a gear head with perpetual grease under my finger nails.
Thank you for this post.
I was fortunate enough to sit in one as it was started up. But I can't recall if the transmission was bad or just being serviced, but we couldn't drive it. It was the mid 60's at the Los Angeles Co. Museum.
The curator of the transportation section was a family friend and my visit was after hours.
I recall the sound of it starting being like that of an APU starting on a modern jet aircraft. The smell was like that of a jetliner as well. I do recall how smooth it was.
I had seen the Chrysler film in high school auto shop, and was thrilled just to see one in person!
We all thought this was going to be the car of the future... Oh how naive we were!
Picture of one
I saw one of these back in the day while riding home on the school bus in Tigard, Oregon, Don.
For those interested in the Gas Turbine concept, here is a link to what was happening on the other side of the Atlantic.
It always looked like more like a '63 Tbird to me, than a Chrysler. I talked to a guy in Rockford, IL, in 1964, who had a loaner. He was probably immune to speeding tickets, as he sure went fast with it.
I wonder how much more fuel efficient the latest airliner APUs, Auxiliary Power Units are than that one in the Chrysler?
PS, don't buy one if it takes a Lithium Ion battery for starting.
Boy, time gets away from you. I thought it was in the '50's, but reading all this it must have been in the '60's. On Highway 36, in Brazoria County near the little community of Damon, I saw one broke down (?) on the side of the road, it was the pretty brown metallic color. This highway is to the West of Houston, and if you look at a map you can see where a big loop can be made close to Houston for demonstration and etc. They (Chrysler) were loading it (by hand) into a large covered trailer, their Vulture Wagon I guess, several other Chrysler cars standing around, and a whole lot of people in suits. They were glad to get the extra help to help load it, that sucker seemed to be awfully heavy. This was long before everyone had cameras. From what I read and heard at the time, it seemed like a good idea.
Turbine automobiles were an interesting idea. Unfortunately people are sometimes stuck in their ways and resistant to change.
Barnes Wallis came up with a plan to put a turbine in a race car.
Andy Granatelli (STP) got excited, as only Andy can, came up with a side by side design and put up the money to make it happen.
Parnell Jones used the STP-Paxton #40 to blow the doors off the piston cars at Indy until a $5.00 bearing failed a few laps from the end.
The sanctioning body then limited the intake area (effectively choking the power out if the turbine) because it would make a zillion dollars worth of piston cars obsolete over night.
There were also rumors that the Indy folks were afraid of having 33 cars that sounded like vacuum cleaners going around the track and the fans getting hurt because the were falling out of the seats as they went to sleep
Numerous folks tried to race turbines -among the best know were Rover and Lotus - but the rules people made it hard for them to compete.
Frank Klempz was the guy in Terra Haute,In. that had one just a few years ago. I was in his place looking over some real nice cars and he had a picture of Jay Leno sitting in his car in his museum. Frank told me at the time Jay wanted to buy the car but he didn't want to sell it. The car Jay now owns could have been the one Frank had because Frank has passed away in the last couple of years or so.
I may have spelled the name wrong but it is close and spell check didn't like it!