1963 Chrysler Gas Turbine

For a while, in the 1950s and 1960s, gas turbines seemed to be the way of the future. It was believed that the cars of tomorrow would be built using turbine technology, and evidently manufacturers took this to heart, investing in research and prototypes. None got further along in development than Chrysler, who produced the 1963 Chrysler Gas Turbine. The body was designed by Elwood Engle, of Thunderbird fame, and produced by Ghia, in Italy, with whom Chrysler had a working relationship. Fifty of the cars were produced, and parceled out to willing drivers. These two door hardtop cars were pretty enough, with a strange, flat profile and swooping undercarriage line.

1963 Chrysler Gas Turbine
1963 Chrysler Gas Turbine

These cars were fitted, as their names implied, with experimental gas turbine engines, which produced about 130 horsepower. The top speed figure is not available, however they were fast enough, reaching 60 mph in 10 seconds, a fine performance at the time.

The principal problem was that even in an era when gas was cheap, the Gas Turbine was extremely thirsty. It was annoying in a prototype, and would have been a deal-breaker for customers. With a 12 mpg (23.5 liters per 100km), its gas consumption was atrocious and would never had passed. The other problem, but one that could probably have been fixed with a little investment, was that the high-speed turbine generated a lot of heat.

All in all, of the 50 1963 Chrysler Gas Turbine that were built, 40 were scrapped to avoid import duty on their Italian bodies, and 10 ended up in various museums and in private collector’s hands.

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