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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Leno: Once futuristic, Chrysler's Turbine Car is powered by lost technology

To this day, I still get letters from guys who were at the 1964 New York World's Fair who want to come see the Chrysler Turbine Car again. I remember going with my dad and watching the Turbine Car come out and drive around in circles in this pit.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/magazine-features/leno-once-futuristic-chryslers-turbine-car-is-powere...
13 REPLIES 13
Thom_Cooper
New Driver

Just visited National Transportation Museum in St Louis where there is a fully restored and operational Chrysler Turbine Car on display.   Museum expert Dick HELLEWGE shared his 1:48 video of the car being started by the owner (does this monthly).   Definitely worth the visit - especially when the car is given it's monthly " turbine test ".

Initial sounds are of compressor spinning up the turbine before the fuel is injected and the turbine takes over.   You can tell the difference in sounds.   Video shows owner placing his hand at exhaust which is at 70F while turbine operates in the 1350F range.

JeffWeimer
Intermediate Driver

My understanding is that the fundamental drivability issue is that turbines aren't particularly responsive to throttle changes, and that isn't just annoying but a potential safety (accident avoidance, merging, etc.) problem.

It could be an efficient and more drivable proposition in a hybrid, maybe?
Oldroad1
Gearhead

Resembles Ford's Thunderbirds of that era.
hyperv6
Racer

Designed by the same designer who left Ford and went to Chrysler.

There was a show car at Ford in the 50’s a Galaxie that held many of the same elements.
Oldroad1
Gearhead

There is always someone here with an explanation that makes sense.
jonthrasher
New Driver

I remember very well, back in either late 1964 or early 1965, Chrysler brought their futuristic Turbine car to Atlanta for all to see. I was only 9 or 10 years old and it was almost like seeing the “Jetson’s” in real life! The Jetson’s did actually predict most of what we know today, after all: video calls, tele-medicine, Roombas, flat-screen TV’s.

They had a display at what is now Lenox Mall. Back then it was an outdoor shopping center called Lenox Square, and we got to see the car and a Chrysler spokesperson talked about this new, innovative technology-of-the-future, and even cranked it up to let us hear it purr. Quite an impressive show, and as a 9/10 year old, I assumed we’d all be driving them by the time I got my license. But we all know how the story ends. Great trip down memory lane, though.
chrisbye
Intermediate Driver

When I saw Chrysler's Turbine Roadshow in Los Angeles, I remember them balancing a coin on its edge on the forward engine shroud with the engine running.
Sirbear62
Pit Crew

Impressive. I will wait and see if my 2006 VW Jetta TDI 5 speed will last for 50 years.
hyperv6
Racer

The turbine is one that just never worked out. It just had a number of drawbacks that held it back as GM and Ford also played with them from time to time,

The best use is here in Ohio. A guy took a APU turbine and put it in a Amish buggy. He runs it up yo 60 mph mostly due to the wood wheels.

It is set up in the back to run on trust and puts out a nice flame. It is fun to watch.
Slow-N-Relaxed
Intermediate Driver

Whoever decided that the headline should refer to "lost technology"... the technology is not lost. It could be done again at almost any moment. The technology was abandoned... not lost. And it was abandoned for 100% valid reasons. That program got Chrysler far more publicity than cost of the entire Turbine program. Chrysler likely NEVER expected to build actual turbine-powered cars, but they knew if they did it RIGHT with a usable power system in a car that looked futuristic without looking completely crazy, they could get a couple of years of publicity for far less than the cost of a traditional advertising campaign. I doubt anyone alive in 63-65 in the US missed Chrysler's best ever promotional program. It was mentioned on every sort of TV programming from news to talk shows to morning shows to sports shows and puff pieces on every local news channel where people lived who got 90-day trials. The coverage was wall to wall to the point that if you were not intentionally avoiding the world of print, broadcast, and radio entertainment, you knew about the Chrysler turbine cars even if you weren't trying to learn about it.
Duramaxriley
Intermediate Driver

Don't forget the movie that featured the Chrysler Turbine. The Lively Set. It was a road racing movie with lots of iconic racers and developers from the era
jackinthesac
Intermediate Driver

Where I grew up in the small town of Hemet in Riverside County California I saw on of the Turbine Cars. A girl who was a year behind me in school, her father was an airline pilot. I would see her mother taking her and her sister to school in the Turbine Car. I was mesmerized. Whoosh!!!. I have had a love of those cars ever since. Thanks for the notes from Mr. Leno
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

The Turbine car is such a wonderful oddball technology that sounds cooler than the reality of it being. Having said that, I would totally do one if I had the chance.