Powered by jet engines, Chrysler turbine cars can run on perfume or tequila

Chrysler Corporation began researching gas turbine engines in the 1930s, but road vehicles were not on its list of potential applications.

Part of the select group of employees working on this secret aircraft-focused project was Executive Engineer George Hubner, the man who would become famous for building nuclear missiles. But, before he got such serious consideration, he started researching the feasibility of driving a car with one of these powerplants. Shortly after World War II, Chrysler became interested in automotive applications, which led to a separate project and, naturally, management chose Hubnerald to lead it.

After years of innovative work, the research team built a stable prototype. It made its public debut on June 16, 1954, under the hood of an otherwise stock Plymouth Belvedere. Two years later, the second generation turbine unit was fitted inside another Plymouth which was operated by a renowned engineer from New York City to Los Angeles.

By this time, people were taking notice, and gas turbine enthusiasm was at an all-time high. Ford and GM were working on similar designs, and the latter carmaker even released a crazy concept called the Firebird XP-21, which looked like a fighter jet on wheels.

At Chrysler, development continued with the introduction of the third iteration of the engine. It was used on most of the company’s existing models and by the late 1950s, an entire turbine-powered fleet was being showcased at every important auto show on the planet.

In the early 1960s, as soon as the fourth generation turbine unit was completed, management decided to stop experimenting with existing models and build a new car around it. The design was assigned to former Ford stylist Elwood Engel, whose portfolio includes the Ford Thunderbird. He envisioned an entirely new car that would rival both the above model as well as the Chevrolet Corvette, at least in terms of looks.

That vision turned into reality in 1963 when the uninspired, revolutionary vehicle called the Turbine Car was unveiled at the Essex House Hotel in New York City. Chrysler announced a limited production run of 50 units that could not be purchased, but would be loaned to the general public to test its practicality.

The hardtop coupe looked good, was packed with luxury, and was met with positive feedback. Its bodywork was handcrafted, assembled and painted in Italy by renowned design studio Carrozzeria Ghia, then shipped back to Detroit, where the powertrain and electronics were fitted. From the headlights to the hub cap and dashboard gauge, it was a collection of turbine-inspired shapes that culminated with a pair of giant exhaust tips sticking out of its rear end.

The A-831 gave 130 hp (97 .) kilowatt) at 36,000 rpm with 425 lb-ft (576 Nm) of torque that was directed to the rear wheels via a TorqueFlight three-speed automatic. The innovative powerplant – which requires a careful eight-step process to get started – uses a single spark plug and about 80% fewer parts than a traditional piston unit, making it inherently more durable and maintainable. It gets easier.

In addition, another major advantage was its ability to run on multiple fuels such as unleaded gasoline, diesel, kerosene and JP-4 jet fuel. According to the manufacturer, it can also burn a variety of flammable liquids such as kiln, peanut, or soybean oil. In addition, if the car’s lenders did not like the smell of its exhaust gases, they could pour a few ounces of perfume into the tank, as one of the carmaker’s representatives demonstrated at a press gala in Paris.

Another famous example of using an unusual liquid as fuel comes from former Mexican President Adolfo López Mateos. The story goes that, after consulting with Chrysler engineers, he emptied several bottles of tequila into the tank and drove the car around without a problem.

Nevertheless, the kryptonite of the versatile engine was leaded gasoline. It was able to burn the fuel, but the lead additive left deposits that would damage its interior, so those who ended up driving were advised not to use this type of gasoline under any circumstances. Do not

All fifty of the initially announced cars were manufactured from 1963 to 1964. They were similar in every way, including the metallic color called Turbine Bronze. Chrysler gave them to the public for three months at no charge, under the condition that they kept a diary and provided extensive feedback before turning the car over. The User Program ran from 1963 to 1966, with a total of 302 individuals participating. This helped engineers identify a range of problems with the turbine engine, including poor fuel consumption or starter malfunction at high altitudes.

While the gas turbine project continued for another decade without any major success, most of these terrible cars were destroyed by Chrysler shortly after the user program ended. The company kept two, six were delivered to various museums and one is owned by Jay Leno.

Not quite a production car, nor a niche concept, the Turbine Car was as close as common people get to driving a jet engine-powered vehicle on public roads and is one of the best cars ever built in America.

We recommend that you watch the episode of Jay Leno’s Garage which you can find below if you want to learn more about this fascinating car and hear the audacious jet noise when it is being fired.

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