A Glimpse at a different automotive era.
The auto industry is no stranger to revolutionary ideas, and every now and then, a concept emerges that feels almost otherworldly. The Chrysler Turbine Car is one such automotive marvel, appearing as though it rolled out from a different timeline entirely.
See the discovery of a Chrysler Turbine Car here.
Tucked away in the Collections Resource Center of the Detroit Historical Society, a veritable treasure trove of automotive gems awaits the discerning eye. At first glance, it might remind one of an elaborate set from a spy movie – a repository of secrets and relics. But the real story here is far more captivating than fiction.
Thanks to Auto Archaeology, a YouTuber known for delving deep into automotive history, the world was offered an intimate look at this marvel. After a stint at the Gilmore Museum, the Turbine Car has returned to its resting place amongst other rarities, standing out even in such illustrious company.
Birthed during the space-age era, a time when innovation knew no bounds, the Chrysler Turbine Car embodied the American ambition to lead in technological advancements. Although Chrysler's flirtation with turbine technology dates back to the 1930s, it was during this period of rapid evolution that the concept took a tangible shape. The appeal of a turbine engine was evident - its ability to run on diverse fuels and its reduced mechanical complexity compared to traditional engines.
In collaboration with the Italian design house Ghia, Chrysler created 55 prototypes of the Turbine Car, each exuding an elegance that was only matched by its engineering brilliance. These vehicles weren't just showpieces; they were tested rigorously. In a remarkable experiment, several were handed over to ordinary citizens to gauge their performance in daily driving scenarios. The curious 'Turbine Bronze' color became a trademark for almost all prototypes, with the exception of just one.
This golden-hued car saw the world, with tales of its adventures in places like Paris, where, legend has it, it even ran on the iconic Chanel No.5 perfume. However, its kryptonite proved to be leaded fuel – the predominant choice for vehicles of the time. As a result, despite its promising start, the Chrysler Turbine Car's journey was cut short. A decision was made to destroy most prototypes, leaving only nine still breathing today. Most of them are housed in museums, while a rare pair belongs to private enthusiasts.
The story of the Chrysler Turbine Car prompts a tantalizing "what if." Had the transition to unleaded fuel occurred just a tad earlier, our roads might have been graced with the hum of turbine engines. Such is the whimsy of time and innovation, forever leaving us with marvels that could have been.