Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Chrysler Turbine

The forgotten concepts thread brouht this back to memory. one of my favorite concepts ever. its before my time but always facinated me. the thing ran at 60,000 rpm, ran on gas, diesel, kerosene, JP-4 jet fuel, or veggie oil.

From Wiki:

Chrysler Turbine Cars were automobiles powered by gas turbine engines which the Chrysler Corporation assembled in a small plant in Detroit, Michigan in 1963, for use in the only consumer test of gas turbine-powered cars. It was the high point of Chrysler's decades-long project to build a practical turbine-powered car.

The fourth-generation Chrysler turbine engine, which ran at up to 60,000 rpm, would run on diesel fuel, unleaded gasoline, kerosene, JP-4 jet fuel, even vegetable oil, it would run virtually on anything and the president of Mexico tested this theory by running one of the first cars - successfully - on tequila. No adjustments were needed to switch from one to another. The engine had a fifth as many moving parts as a piston unit (60 rather than 300). The turbine was spinning on simple sleeve bearings for vibration-free running. Its simplicity offered the potential for long life, and because no combustion contaminants enter engine oil, no oil changes were considered necessary. The 1963 Turbine's engine generated 130bhp and an instant 425lb ft of torque at stall speed, making it good for 0-60mph in 12 seconds at an ambient temperature of 85F - it would sprint quicker if the air was cooler and more dense. The absence of a distributor and points, the solitary start-up spark plug and the lack of coolant eased maintenance, while the exhaust produced no carbon monoxide (CO), no unburnt carbon and no raw hydrocarbons. But it did generate nitrogen oxides (NO) and the challenge of limiting them helped to kill the program. Its power turbine was connected, without a torque converter, through a gear reduction unit to an otherwise ordinary TorqueFlite automatic transmission. The flow of the combustion gases between the gas generator and free power turbine provided the same functionality as a torque converter but without using a conventional liquid medium. Twin rotating recuperators transferred exhaust heat to the inlet air, greatly improving fuel economy. Varying stator blades prevented excessive top end speeds, and provided engine braking on deceleration. Throttle lag, high fuel consumption (17mpg) and exhaust gas temperatures at idle plagued early models; Chrysler was able to remedy or mitigate most of these drawbacks and deficiencies. Furthermore, the car sounded like a giant vacuum cleaner, which was not satisfying to consumers who were more comfortable with the sound of a large American V8. High altitude troubled the combined starter-generator, for instance, while failing to follow the correct start-up procedure could wreck the engine in seconds. But troubles were remarkably few for such a bold experiment. More than 1.1 million test miles were accumulated by the 50 cars given to the public, and operational down-time stood at only 4%.

The bodies and interiors were crafted by Ghia in Italy. As each body was finished and shipped to Detroit, Chrysler employees installed gas turbine engines, transmissions and electrical components to prepare the cars for use by the 203 average motorists - 20 of them women - who were chosen to test them.

The Turbine Car was a two-door hardtop coupe with four individual bucket seats, power steering, power brakes and power windows. Its most prominent design features were two large horizontal taillights and nozzles (back-up lights) mounted inside a very heavy chrome sculptured bumper. Up front, the single headlamps were mounted in chrome nacelles with a turbine styling theme, creating a striking appearance. This theme was carried through to the center console and the hubcaps. Even the tires were specially made with small turbine vanes molded into the white sidewalls. It was finished in "Frostfire Metallic", later called "Turbine Bronze" and available on production automobiles. The roof was covered in black vinyl, and the interior featured bronze-colored "English calfskin" leather upholstery with plush-cut pile bronze-colored carpet.

The dashboard was lighted with electroluminescent panels in the gauge pods and on a call-out strip across the dash. This system did not use bulbs; instead, an inverter and transformer raised the battery voltage to over 100 volts AC and passed that high voltage through special plastic layers, causing the gauges to glow with a blue-green light.

The car itself was designed in the Chrysler studios under the direction of Elwood Engel, who had worked for the Ford Motor Company before his move to Chrysler. The designer credited with the actual look of the car was Charles Mashigan, who designed a two-seat show car called the Typhoon, which was displayed at the 1964 World's Fair in New York City. Engle used many older Ford styling themes. The rear tailight/bumper assembly was copied directly(with revisions) from a 1956 Ford styling study called the "Galaxia". Fortunately, he used none of the themes associated with his folly of the 1964 Imperial.

A total of 55 turbine cars were produced. When Chrysler had finished the user program and other public displays of the cars, 46 of them were destroyed to avoid an import duty. Of the remaining nine cars, six had the engines de-activated and then they were donated to museums around the country. Chrysler retained three of the turbine cars for historical reasons. Of the nine remaining turbine cars only three were functional. One of the cars kept by Chrysler is stored in running condition at the proving grounds, while another car was purchased from a museum by a private automobile collector and is also functional (Frank Kleptz of Terre Haute, Indiana). The last turbine car that is functional is owned by the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, was photographed for Mopar Action magazine, and appears at car shows around the United States from time to time. An owner of a non-functional car got in contact with then Chrysler chairman Robert Lutz, who gave him the proper part to make it functional[citation needed], making four out of the nine fully working vehicles.

But the programme didn't die completely. The handsome new coupe body would appear, re-engineered and rebadged, as the '66 Dodge Charger. Chrysler went on to develop a sixth generation gas-turbine engine which did meet NoX regulations, and installed it in a '66 Dodge Coronet, though it was never shown. A smaller, lighter seventh generation engine was produced in the early 70s, when company received a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for further development, and a special bodied turbine LeBaron was built in 1977 as a prelude to a production run. But by then the company was in dire financial straits and about to be bailed out by the US government. A condition of that deal was that gas-turbine mass production be abandoned because it was "too risky" giving roots to many conspiracy theories.

Modified by westy66 at 6:47 PM 5-7-2008

Modified by westy66 at 7:00 PM 5-7-2008

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