Chrysler Turbine 1963 -

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Chrysler Turbine 1963

Automobiles from 1960 > Extra about cars in 1960 A-G

Chrysler’s Turbine project was the most glamorous rolling experiment ever conducted on American roads. The only car ever series-produced with a gas-turbine “jet” engine, the real-life test program went as smoothly as the power delivery from its vibration-free power unit. Selling the car to the public was deemed too risky, so Chrysler loaned examples for free, for three-month trial periods, to a wide spectrum of American drivers. Rather than install the fourth-generation engine in a standard Chrysler, a unique model was designed in-house. The bodies were built by Italian coachbuilder Ghia and power units fitted in Detroit. The Turbine was a fourseater hardtop with little of the jet-age gimmickry of most Chrysler/Ghia show cars. The speed of the engine was reduced to a maximum of 4,680rpm in daily driving use and the power was delivered to the wheels via a lightly modified automatic gearbox. The engine could burn any fuel, including diesel, kerosene, alcohol, or vegetable fat. The test cars proved remarkably reliable, with only 5 percent of the total test time lost to breakdowns, and oil changes unnecessary. Downsides included patchy running at high altitudes and the vacuum cleaner-like noise. But the biggest problem was the unacceptably high level of nitrogen oxide emissions. After the program ended in September 1966, 46 Turbines were scrapped; today, three working cars survive. Chrysler’s financial troubles meant the Turbine adventure was never repeated.

Chrysler Turbine 1963

Chrysler Turbine 1963
PLACE OF ORIGIN  Detroit, Michigan, and Turin, Italy
HISTORICAL STATUS  production car
ENGINE  gas turbine
LAYOUT  front-mounted engine driving the rear wheels
BODYWORK  two-door, four-seater hardtop coupé
TOP SPEED  unknown
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