• Chrysler Turbine Car

The Chrysler Turbine Car was a car that was driven by a gas turbine, the Chrysler made in a small factory in Detroit in 1963 for the only consumer test of gas turbine-driven cars. This was the culmination of decades of attempts by Chrysler to build an everyday driven by a turbine car.

Towards the end of World War II studies to investigate new concepts of gas turbines were started at Chrysler. 1945 was obtained from the U.S. Navy contract to develop and manufacture a drive turboprop aircraft. Early 1950s were tested for cars and installed in test vehicles first gas turbines. After a successful road test showed a 1954 Chrysler turbine-powered Plymouth Sport Coupe as a test vehicle to the public. Further experiments were promising. However, materials and production technologies presented major challenges dar. early 1960s had developed suitable, inexpensive to produce and conventionally be processed metals. Several test vehicles were presented with the now third generation of the gas turbine, which caused quite a stir. More intensive road tests were successful.

Chrysler announced the beginning of 1962 to a small series of 50 to 75 test vehicles that should be left to the end of 1963 drivers selected for evaluation.

The gas turbine in 1963, the fourth generation of the Chrysler gas turbine, reached on the drive shaft a power output of 130hp (96 kW) at 3.600/min and was at standstill of the vehicle, a torque of 576 Nm from what an acceleration from 0 to 100km/h made possible at an outdoor temperature of 29.5 ° C in 12 seconds – at low temperatures, the power output was even higher due to the greater air density.

The maximum speed of the turbine shaft was 45.600/min. It consisted of a single-stage centrifugal compressor, a combustion chamber and a two-stage axial turbine, wherein the first stage drive the compressor. The mechanically separate second stage was connected through a reduction gear directly with a standard Chrysler "TorqueFlite" automatic transmission; the usual case of piston engine drives hydraulic torque converter was not due to the free flow of gases necessary. To match load conditions and to avoid excessive speeds with the engine braking, the vanes of the second turbine stage were adjustable. Two rotating counter-current heat exchangers (recuperators) regained heat from the exhaust gases and the compressed air is heated prior to combustion, reduced fuel consumption considerably. The turbine shafts ran in inexpensive bearings.

As fuel unleaded gasoline, kerosene, JP-4 jet fuel, and even vegetable oil diesel fuel were suitable. The gas turbine would have gone with any liquid fuel, and the President of Mexico, Adolfo López Mateos operation – successfully – one of the first cars with tequila. To switch from one fuel to the other, and no adjustment had to be made; Also a mixture of various fuels was possible.

The turbine was only one fifth of the moving parts of a piston engine (60 instead of 300), and thus an expected low susceptibility to interference. She had neither distributor nor breaker contacts, only one spark plug for the start, no coolant circuit, and it was – because there is no combustion residues got into the oil circuit – no oil change necessary. The maintenance order was also lower than in a conventional Drive. The exhaust gases contained no catalyst and no carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons and no no unburned carbon (soot). However, the turbine large amounts of nitrogen oxides produced (NOx); the challenges to reduce it became the ongoing problem of the program.

The car itself was designed in the Chrysler workshops under the direction of Elwood Engel, who had already worked at Ford 14 years as a designer. Responsible for the appearance of the vehicle designer was Charles Mashigan, who was also a 2 seater show car called Typhoon, which was shown at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. Angel turned to many former Ford styling details. The assembly with rear lights and rear bumper was (with Improvements) have been taken directly from a Ford styling study from the year 1956 with the name Galaxia. From also designed by Engel modern design of the 1964 Imperial, however, no items were taken.

The turbine car was a 2-door hardtop coupe with four individual seats, power steering, power brakes and power windows. Among the most striking design details included the two large horizontal taillights and back-up lights, which were integrated into the highly contoured, chromed rear bumper. At the front, two single headlights were mounted in chrome-plated rings with "turbine design," which led to an accentuated look. This design theme extended over the center console up to the hubcaps. Even the tires were from a special production with small stylized turbine blades in the white wall. The cars were painted in the red-brown "Frostfire Metallic", later called "Turbine Bronze", which was henceforth also available for other models in the series production. The roof was covered with black vinyl, the interior was executed in bronze-English calfskin. In addition there was bronze-colored plush carpets.

The instrument panel was illuminated by means of electroluminescent displays in the instrument panel and a display strip over the entire width. The system did not use a light bulb, but an inverter with transformer generated from the voltage of the car battery via 100 V alternating current was passed through special plastic layers, then let shine the ads in blue-green light.

The bodies and interiors was at Ghia in Italy. The completed bodies were then transported to Detroit and there complete with gas turbine, gearbox and the electrical components. 50 vehicles completed, which were delivered to selected test driver – Until October 1964, so – next 5 prototypes.

Among 30,000 candidates 203 ordinary motorists were selected. Each driver was provided a copy of the Chrysler turbine up to three months free of charge. In January 1966, the program was completed by a total of approximately 1.8 million kilometers of testing. Of particular note here is the low down time of only 4% over the entire test period.

Delayed throttle response and high outlet temperatures of the exhaust gases at idle were shortcomings of the first models. At high altitude, the combined starter/generator was not working properly, and if you do not exactly followed the necessary start-up procedure, this could lead to the death of the turbine. Chrysler was able to correct most errors or defuse, whereby the operational readiness of initially 96% increased to 99%. Delayed acceleration and a high fuel consumption (l/100km 16-17), however, remained a problem. Drivers appreciated the gentle, vibration-free operation, with customers who were more used the sound of a big V8 engine, criticized, the drive sound like a big vacuum cleaner. Overall, the vehicle was well received – the technical difficulties were relatively low for such a unique experiment.

A total of 55 turbine cars were produced. When Chrysler had finished his customer test program and other public demonstrations of the car, 46 of them were destroyed in order to avoid the high import duties for the Italian manufactured bodies. Of the remaining nine six copies were handed over to museums throughout the country after the gas turbines were put out of action. Chrysler itself kept for historical reasons, three copies in functional condition. One of them is kept in working order at the Chrysler test track, one was purchased by the Museum of the private car collector Frank Kleptz in Terre Haute and also still works today. The last of the vehicles mentioned belongs to the Museum of Transport in St. Louis, was among other things, photographed for Mopar Action magazine and appears from time to time to car shows across the United States. A one owner no longer functional copy sat down with the Chrysler Chairman Robert Lutz in combination, whereupon he sent a replacement part, with which the car could be put into operation again. Overall today are thus four of nine surviving cars in running order.

The program of the turbine cars did not die completely at Chrysler. The design for a new coupe which was provided as a body for a new generation of the turbine drive, became the 1966 Dodge Charger. Chrysler continued the development of the drive with a sixth-generation gas turbine continues that filled the new NOx regulations, and built it into the 1966 Dodge Coronet, which was never shown to the public in this form. A smaller, lighter seventh generation were built in the early 1970s because the company received a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) for further developments. 1977 was a specially karossierter Chrysler LeBaron with gas turbine as a precursor to a series production. At this time, however, the company was in a difficult financial position, and the U.S. government had to take over a state guarantee. Was a condition of this contract that series production of gas turbines, since it was considered "too risky" what many conspiracy theories founded.

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