If you’ve never seen a Chrysler Turbine Car up close, you might finally have a chance this weekend if you happen to be in Washington, D.C. Go check out Cars at the Capital, an automotive-themed exhibit that’s been ongoing since September 2, and will wind down this Sunday, September 11.
Hagerty’s vintage car exhibit saved the best for last, with the final car on display being one of nine Chrysler Turbine Cars remaining in existence. The Turbine Car went on display earlier this week, following after the 1952 Hudson Hornet that Herb Thomas raced in the early days of NASCAR.
Both the “Fabulous Hudson Hornet” and the Chrysler Turbine Car are in the National Historic Vehicle Register as machines with historic significance to the U.S. — and not just sentimental value.
The former is an icon of motorsport, and the inspiration for “Doc Hudson” from the Pixar movie Cars. And the latter is an aspirational machine from the Jet Age when Americans believed that technological innovation could make the world a better place. Yeah, we’re still working on that.
Chrysler’s Turbine Car had futuristic design both inside and out to match its method of propulsion, a clean-burning turbine engine. It could run on just about any flammable liquid fuel, and had far fewer moving parts than a conventional piston engine. It also promised a smooth and quiet ride and had some of the best tail lights ever, which made it look like a jet plane with afterburners.
The program was shuttered after only three years, and only a few of the prototypes remain. And this weekend will be your chance to see one of them at the National Mall, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. through Sunday.