Top 10 Most Important Cars You’ve Never Heard Of

Top 10 Most Important Cars You’ve Never Heard Of

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.

  • Tomst37

    I loved this. It was really interesting and informative.


  • Greenjeep1998

    Don’t know if you knew this Craig, but the Eagles and Cherokees were sold side by side for a short period of time since AMC owned Jeep for the last 20 years before being bought by Chrysler for the Jeep brand. IIRC, Chrysler’s Turbine program was started shortly after WW2 and died right around the time they went bankrupt the first time. Even though the turbine engine has yet to make it into a regular production vehicle, Chrysler had some ownership in the manufacturer of the Abrams tanks and I’ve often wondered how much of their turbine tech went into the Abrams instead.

    BTW, the Turbine Cars weren’t the only Mopars capable of burning whiskey……..their 2.7l and Pentastar V-6’s as well as the 4.7l V-8 are all built to be capable of burning corn whiskey. The Pentastar is quite fond of the stuff and my 4.0l I-6 Jeep don’t seem to mind a couple gallons being splash blended every once in a while too 😀

  • Craig Cole

    No, I had no idea!  That’s really interesting but not as interesting as Chrysler helping build tank engines.  That’s really cool.  You must be a Pentastar Historian.