Forgotten Lessons: Chrysler Turbine Car (1963)

Forgotten Lessons: Chrysler Turbine Car (1963)

( – Between 1950 and around 1975 there was a belief in technology that seems almost surreal today. Everything seemed possible, in the year 2000 we would all be flying high and going on vacation to the moon. Futuristic research also took place in the automotive industry: while the Ford Nucleon with a nuclear drive was absolutely gaga, two other engine concepts were inspired by space.

We are talking about rotary engine and motor turbine. Both took airplane engines as an example. Why does the motor have to perform when it can provide direct and elegant rotation? A few manufacturers, including GM, Rover, Renault and Fiat, were working on a Boeing 707 model for the route. The most famous was the “Turbine Car” and Chrysler.

Chrysler began research into aeronautics turbine engines in the late 1930s, primarily under the leadership of George Huebner. After World War II, Huebner was among a group of engineers who developed the idea of ​​powering a car with a turbine.

He was attracted to the concept primarily because turbine engines have fewer moving parts than their piston-driven counterparts (similar to the Wankel engine) and can run on a variety of fuels. According to historian Charles K. Hyde, Chrysler was “a leader in gas turbine research” by the mid-1950s.

Chrysler tested the Belvedere and claimed that its turbine engine had 20 percent fewer parts and weighed 91 kg less than comparable conventional piston engines. Chrysler introduced its second turbine car, the 1956 Plymouth, on March 23, 1956; Huebner drove it 3,020 miles (4,860 km) in a four-day trip from New York City to Los Angeles.

Only nine Chrysler Turbine Cars remain. Chrysler has one of its cars at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Five of the six cars currently on display at the museum were donated to the Detroit Historical Museum, the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, the Museum of Transportation in Kirkwood, Missouri, the Petersen Automobile Museum in Los Angeles, and the Smithsonian Institution. in Washington, DC.

The sixth Chrysler Turbine on display in the museum is owned by Stahl’s Automotive Collection of Chesterfield, Michigan and was purchased at auction in March 2021. This crossover was originally donated to the former Harrah’s Collection in Reno, Nevada, later purchased by Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza, and then sold to Frank Kleptz of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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The only other privately owned turbine car is currently in the collection of Jay Leno, who in 2009 acquired one of the three cars owned by Chrysler. Both his car and the car now owned by Stahl’s Automotive Collection are in operation. You can see how such a turbine car drives and sounds in the video above.