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Image credits: © Chrysler.

1963 Chrysler Turbine news, pictures, specifications, and information

Coupe
Coachwork: Ghia
 
The Car of the Future in 1963
In a gas-turbine engine, the engine draws air through a compressor, heats the air to form a hot rushing gas, then directs the gas against turbine wheels. The spinning turbine transmit power through drive shafts to the vehicle itself as well as to all accessories.

The Chrysler Turbine program ran from 1954 to 1981. The fifth-generation car, by far the most famous and beautifully styled, was the 'Turbine Bronze' 1963 Coupe designed by Elwood Engel and assembled by Ghia in Italy. The resemblance to the 1961 Thunderbird is not accidental; Mr. Engel was Ford's lead designer for the T-Bird and the 1961 Lincoln Continental before moving to Chrysler Styling in the fall of 1961.

Fifty of these coupes were built for Chrysler Engineering, and in an unusual and highly publicized program, loaned to carefully screened members of the public for driving evaluations. All but nine of the historic vehicles were scrapped. This is one of three retained by Chrysler.
Coupe
Coachwork: Ghia
 
The Chrysler Turbine had 80-percent fewer moving parts than a regular piston engine. The Turbine's power plant was almost entirely enclosed an never needed timing adjustments, tune-ups or oil changes. It ran on kerosene, diesel, or unleaded gasoline.

For all the positives that the Turbine offered, it had its drawbacks; it was smelly, got very hot, and did just 12 miles to the gallon. The Turbine's engine did not use jet fuel, yet its exhaust still measured a scorching 525 degrees. The 'jet' engine spewed superheated gases and went through fuel like a 747.

Chrysler built 50 Turbines during a three-year trial period. After that time, it was given a 'thumbs down' for its poor efficiency and economy. All but ten of the cars were scrapped.

Nevertheless, the car's jet-age appeal and swept-back styling was alluring. The 'whirling turbine', exotic tail lights, and futuristic dash were equally as impressive.

By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2011
Coupe
Coachwork: Ghia
 
Chrysler built 50 experimental gas turbine cars in 1963 which they loaned to a sampling of preferred customers for evaluation in everyday driving conditions. High fuel consumption, high production costs, and difficulties experienced by drivers who were not used to the behavior of a turbine engine doomed the effort. With the exception of six which went to museums and one retained by Chrysler engineering, all were dismantled so Chrysler could avoid paying import duties on the Italian Ghia-built bodies.

Collection of the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum. Gift of Chrysler Corporation.

Source - Petersen Museum
The introduction of the 1963 Chrysler turbine-power car marked the first time any automobile company had committed to building the more than one or two gas turbine vehicles and releasing them for driving and evaluation by the public.

Fifty of the contemporary-styled, 2-door, 4-passenger hardtop were built, wîth the purpose of determining how the public would react to this new powertrain, wîth its advantages of decreased maintenance, longer engine life, and other operating advantages. The public was invited to drive them for free, for three-month increments, wîth over 200 families participating the program.

Source - Chrysler
Chrysler experimented with turbine powered cars in the 1950s. It was a natural extension of the jet-inspired styling of the period. Turbines were seen as a possible replacement for the internal combustion engine. They were lighter, smoother and simpler. Also, they offered fuel flexibility and potentially lower manufacturer costs.

By 1964, Chrysler began consumer testing, placing a fleet of 50 turbine cars in customer's hands, for three month shifts. 200 lucky consumers got to amaze and confound their neighbors, by driving the coolest sounding cars ever built. Initial testing revealed concerns with overheating, if drivers didn't monitor engine temperature and speed. This caused stress cracks where the turbine wheel met the impeller.

The engine produced 130 peak horsepower at 44,610 rpm, but they made 425 foot pounds of useable torque. They idled at 21,000 rpm and had exhaust temperatures of 1,750 degrees. Most of the cars were scrapped after the program. There are nine cars remaining of the fifty. Chrysler retains three. There are two operational examples.
Coupe
Coachwork: Ghia
 
The Chrysler Turbine program began in 1954 and lasted until 1981. There was a total of seven generations of turbine engines. This vehicle has a fifth generation engine. The majority of the turbine engines were installed in standard Chrysler cars and trucks. Only the 1963 Ghia version was specially designed to be powered by a turbine engine. A total of 50 Ghia bodied gas turbine cars were built between 1963 and 1964. Most of the vehicles were loaned to members of the general public for a 3 month period. A total of 200 families used the vehicle. Their feedback was overwhelmingly positive. All of the vehicles were painted the 'Turbine Bronze' and had matching interiors.

This vehicle rides on a 110 inch wheelbase and weighs 4,100 pounds. Fuel type consists of kerosene, diesel, JP-4 jet fuel and even ran on perfume and alcohol. The turbine engine was never put into production due to the cost of its manufacture and the fact that fuel economy ratings were never dramatically better than the standard internal combustion engine. At the end of the evaluation period all but 9 of these cars were scrapped due to tax and import tariffs. Of the 9 remaining 3 were kept by Chrysler and one each was given to the other museums. Of these 9, only 5 are in running condition.
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