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LOOKING BACK  -  1963 Chrysler Turbine

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10th February, 2013

The Chrysler Turbine programme began in 1954 and lasted until 1981. Over the 27 year span, a total of seven-generations of turbine engines were designed. It was 50 years ago that the stylish 1963 Chrysler Turbine came with Chrysler's fifth-generation turbine engine. While, the majority of the turbine development engines were installed in standard Chrysler cars and trucks, only the 1963 Ghia-bodied version was designed to be powered with a turbine engine.

A total of 50 Ghia-bodied gas-turbine cars were manufactured in 1963 and 1964. Most of the vehicles were loaned to members of the general public for a three-month trial period. Over the life of the programme, a total of 200 families used the Chrysler Turbine vehicles. Their feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

All 50 Chrysler Turbine test cars were painted “Turbine Bronze” and had matching interiors. However, one of the vehicles was repainted white and driven in the 1964 movie “The Lively Set” by a Chrysler engineer.

To prove the engines flexibility, the vehicles were run on perfume, alcohol, kerosene, diesel and even JP-4 jet fuel. The twin-regenerator gas-turbine engine featured two independent turbine wheels – one to power the vehicle and a second to drive the compressor and engine accessories. This fifth-generation turbine engine was coupled to a modified TorqueFlite three-speed automatic transmission. Engine output was 130 horsepower and an impressive 450 ft.-lb. of torque at the output shaft. (copyright image)

America's 1963 Chrysler Turbine experimental car (above)

The Turbine engine was never put into production due to the cost of its manufacture and the fact that fuel economy ratings were never dramatically better than the convention internal combustion engine.

At the end of the evaluation period all but nine of the cars were scrapped. Of the nine remaining Chrysler Turbines, two are kept within Chrysler Group’s historical collection and seven were given to museums. The Chrysler Turbine cars are currently housed at: Detroit Historical, Smithsonian Institute, Museum of Transportation (St. Louis, Missouri), Peterson Museum (Los Angeles, California), the Blackhawk Collection (Danville, California) and with two private owners in Indiana and California. Of the nine, five remain in operating condition.

(NOTE: Because Museums change their display vehicles regularly, Next Car is unable to determine if and when a particular vehicle will be on display at any given time.)



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