Category: Gas Turbine

How do you put a price on the only 1964 Chrysler Turbine available for sale in decades? – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

How do you put a price on the only 1964 Chrysler Turbine available for sale in decades? – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

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Understandably, it’s hard to put a price on this 1964 Chrysler Turbine for sale on Hemmings.com. Most of the remaining examples now reside in museums and Jay Leno’s not likely to let go of his anytime soon, so this one – chassis number 991231, which for many years the late Frank Kleptz had in his collection – will likely be the only one we’ll see for sale for quite some time.

What’s more, it remains functional and roadworthy, and would steal the show every time it drove in and started up. Just trying to get a ballpark estimate on it would be a challenge – after all, what other recent sales would one compare it to? Whatever it sells for, here’s hoping it does get out and make the round of shows and public appearances. From the seller’s description:

Today all nine of the legendary Chrysler Turbine Cars remain yet only two are in private hands – one in Jay Leno’s Collection and the other chassis number 991231 is offered here for the first time in over 30 years.Chassis number 991231 is the crown jewel of the Kleptz Collection with the distinction of being the only Chrysler Turbine car available on the open market today. As offered it is in exceptionally well-preserved condition finished in its original metallic bronze paintwork with complementing upholstery all original fittings and fixtures and a host of spares documents and technical information. It is believed that 991231 spent much of its service life on the West Coast performing “VIP duties” meaning it was retained by Chrysler and loaned out weekly to executives sales managers award-winning salespeople and anyone else who Chrysler Corporation thought should experience this wholly unique automobile. Allegedly it was initially slated to be one of two cars donated to the Natural History Museum in LA likely to save on shipping costs back to Detroit. William Harrah approached Chrysler requesting one of the Turbine Cars for his museum and the company obliged giving him 991231 along with a spare engine

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It sure looks like Ford had an experimental gas-turbine Model T running around in the Twenties – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

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Don’t try to wipe your screen to clear up that blurry image above: It’s a screen-capture from a 50-plus-year-old promotional video uploaded to YouTube at a low resolution setting, so that’s about as sharp as it gets. It’s also about the only photographic evidence we’ve been able to find of a gas-turbine engine that Ford designed and experimented with in the mid-Twenties, long before other American carmakers started their own gas turbine programs.
As noted in Ford’s own 1966 promotional video on Big Red, the turbine-powered concept truck that was the predecessor to Ford’s gas-turbine engine program of the late Sixties and early Seventies, this little gas turbine engine predated Big Red by 40 years. “Since that time, Ford’s engineers have been interested in the potential of gas turbine power,” the narrator boasted, implying an unbroken thread of research and development into the engines. However, it appears Ford’s scriptwriters included the mention of the engine only to boost the company’s credentials; after a quick mention that Henry Ford and two associates built the gas turbine engine in 1925, the video switched back to the development of the 700-series gas turbines without elaborating on the earlier engine.
The gas turbine engine in the image appears to be a patent demonstration model, but we’ve yet to come across any such patent in our searches. A clearer image of the patent model would help, but we’ve yet to make any headway with Ford itself or The Henry Ford. Without much else to support the existence of the Henry Ford-developed gas turbine, we could’ve easily dismissed it as another wild Henry Ford idea or part of the accretion myth around the industrialist.

Could Ford have been the first carmaker (okay, truck maker) to mass produce gas turbines for the road? – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

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The Seventies were supposed to be the decade for gas turbines – touted for decades as the engines of the future – to finally take to the roads en masse. And while each of the Big Three had its own gas-turbine programs, industry observers expected Ford to become the first to market such an engine. Yet, as it turned out, the dawn of the Seventies proved the end of Ford’s gas-turbine ambitions entirely.

As noted previously here, Ford’s turbine program dated back to the early to mid-1950s, a time of grand conjecture of the future of transportation. Ford’s concept cars “featured” gas turbines, even if the concepts never actually had one installed, and Ford designers smitten with the idea (or trying to impress managers who were smitten with the idea) worked mentions of turbines into their renderings and clay models. Ford even toyed with a turbine-powered tractor and a Thunderbird or two.

Ford’s primary interest in turbines, however, focused on using them to power semi trucks. As noted in a May 1967 Car Life survey of the state of automotive turbine technology, each of the Big Three had varying ideas about the best application for turbines. Chrysler engineers preferred that the engines power passenger cars. GM believed turbines made the most sense in transcontinental coaches and construction equipment. Ford, “which in many respects appears the most advanced in the field, has consistently worked toward development of turbine power for long cross-country heavy-duty highway trucks.”

Detroit investigated turbine technology for cars well beyond the Sixties – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

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Detroit investigated turbine technology for cars well beyond the Sixties

In January 1966, Chrysler collected the 55 Ghia-bodied turbine-powered cars it had lent out to the general public over the prior couple years; sometime after mid-April of that year, it then destroyed all but nine of the cars. To even casual auto enthusiasts, that seemed to mark the end of Detroit’s fling with turbine engines and thus the final validation of the internal combustion engine. But, as it turns out, Detroit continued to look into the turbine as an internal combustion alternative for decades after, leading up to the turn toward electrification in recent years.

Detroit investigated turbine technology for cars well beyond the Sixties

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Related – Hemmings Sunday Cinema – A turbine comes to Indy