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Car Lust Classic: 1963 Chrysler Turbine

Editor's note: Since this is the 50th anniversary week of JFK's assasination, we are re-running a few of our posts having to do with cars from that year and also directly with JFK himself. This was the very first Car Lust post I did way back in 2008. They say that if you really want to learn something about a subject, teach a class in it. Very true. In the last five years of writing here I've learned more about the history of automobiles than from all of the books and magazines and television programs I'd ever read up to that point. And learned a lot from my fellow conspirators contributors about cars that I never gave a second glance to. Please enjoy my first foray into Car Lust, hopefully as much as I enjoyed writing it.
by Anthony Cagle on August 12, 2008

As odd as it may sound, the Chrysler Turbine was not just a concept car but a limited-production model; 50 were actually produced and placed with Chrysler customers for real-world testing. Consequently, this was closer to actual production than your average concept car.63turbinf

The idea of using a turbine engine in automobiles has been around for a while and the concept continues to be batted around and appears every few years in popular technology magazines. A turbine engine works by first compressing air, heating it up either directly or indirectly by burning fuel, and using the expanding air in a turbine which results in work which is used to both further compress incoming air and also provide either rotational energy or thrust, depending on the application. Regular aircraft engines are too large and emit too much heat to simply be placed in a car, so Chrysler's research focused on reducing the size of the engine and developing a regenerator to recycle hot exhaust gas back into the combustion chamber--thus increasing gas mileage and reducing the output temperature of the exhaust gases.

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When the turbine came out/was announced it made quite a splash - totally revolutionary. Who had ever thought of placing a turbine in a car. Those were for planes. Overall, a neat idea, especially putting them in the publics hands. Has anyone noticed how the silhouette resembles the bullet birds?

Does anyone know the pros & cons of a turbine in a hybrid vs a piston (gas/diesel) engine?

Turbines cost a lot to make. The blades must meet very close tolerances and the unit has to be made of high temp materials.
also, fuel consumption is high...that changes with altitude (at least with aircraft).

Well, I'd almost go for a turbine-electric hybrid these days. The electric motors would be the drive train, and the turbine could just be a generator, running at it's most effective speed.

I read a great book about it. Here:

What surprised me was that Chrysler just kept experimenting with turbines well into the 1970s.
I would suspect that the folks that actually paid attention to such developments would become jaded after about a decade.

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