1963 Chrysler Turbine Car
There is a wide variety of alternative powertrains on the market today. Aside from traditional internal combustion, drivers can choose from plug-in electrics, diesels, natural gas-powered vehicles and more. Really, there’s never been more on the automotive menu that what’s offered today.
In the 1960s carmakers were eager to incorporate aircraft-inspired features in their designs. Things like tailfins, winged hood ornaments and cockpit-styled interiors were all in vogue. Not surprisingly, those jet-age aspirations found their way under the hood as well.
In 1963 Chrysler introduced a revolutionary new car that was powered by a turbine, the same kind of engine hanging under the wings of a Boeing 707. Designed by Elwood Engel and assembled by Ghia in Italy, 50 test cars were built for limited consumer evaluation.
The idea was revolutionary, no pun intended. Turbines could run on just about any flammable liquid from jet fuel to diesel to gasoline and even Scotch whiskey. Ultimately there were drawbacks to the design and Chrysler pulled the plug, destroying nearly all of the test cars in the process. A few made it to museums and private collections.
While turbine engines may have been less than perfect as an automotive powerplant they do hold promise for the future. As automakers switch to hybrid drivetrains turbines could be great as an electrical generator, serving as a “range extender” in cars like the Chevy Volt.