Don’t adjust your monitors, you’re looking at one of only two Chrysler Turbine Cars in private hands. If that didn’t get you salivating enough, this 1963 Chrysler Turbine Car is for sale! Check out this wonderful piece of automotive history.
Americans in the years after World War II brimmed with excitement over the potential future that technology would provide. Nuclear energy promised a magical future with our daily lives powered by clean nuclear fuel. The country reached for the stars with an accelerating space program. The jet engine made the world a whole lot smaller. To many, it seemed as if the future was all nuclear power, jets and rockets.
This technological optimism was reflected in car design as well. Taillights looked like jet burners and vehicles looked like spaceships. Engineers from the Turbine Lab at Chrysler wanted to bring the magic of a jet turbine to cars. Steve Lehto wrote about the history of these cars and it’s worth a read. This Chrysler Turbine Car for sale at Hemmings by Hyman, Ltd., is one of them.
Why a turbine engine? Aside from the awesome soundtrack, turbine engines will run on basically any liquid that you can get to burn. I’m talking these things can run on peanut oil, vodka, perfume; almost anything that you can get to light up. Turbine engines also have fewer moving parts than your typical automotive internal combustion engine.
Additional benefits include a smooth and quiet operation. Lehto’s book excerpt notes that Motor Trend touted the benefits of turbine engines and revealed that companies and individuals worldwide were trying to cram the tech into cars. Toyota even tried its hand at turbine engines as late as the 1980s.
The turbine engine in this car makes a modest 130 horsepower and 425 lb-ft torque. Idle happens between 18,000 and 22,000 rpm. At its top speed of 120 mph, that engine is spinning at a quick 60,000 rpm. That performance isn’t all that incredible, but I don’t care, this car is so very wonderful.
Unfortunately, the cars never really overcame shortcomings like poor fuel economy, terrible emissions and destructive exhaust heat. The Turbine Lab got off 55 Chrysler Turbine Cars during its research. Five are in museums, two are owned by Chrysler, one is owned by Jay Leno and this one is up for grabs. The rest were destroyed and burned to the ground:
According to the Hemmings ad, this Chrysler Turbine Car, chassis 991231, is part of the Frank Kleptz Collection. It’s in original condition and is believed to have spent much of its life carting around Chrysler employees and salespeople that the company felt were special enough to drive it.
The car has changed hands a few more times in its life, landing in William Harrah’s (the hotel magnate) museum, then with Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan. Frank Kleptz finally got the car in the late 1980s and had GE Engine Services help restore the engine to running condition. The car’s noted as in running condition now, too. The buyer gets some sweet extras like a second engine and transmission. They also get engineering drawings, tech information and historical documentation.
The price? The ad doesn’t say, but if you have to ask...
I contacted Hyman to see if it could give me any details on what the buyer would be paying. I’ll update if I get an answer.
One thing is for sure, someone’s collection is about to get a new centerpiece. I’d love to take this thing on a cross-country road trip. Check out the only other privately owned Chrysler Turbine Car on Jay Leno’s Garage!
Update 4:28 p.m. CST: Hyman, Ltd informed me that the car has sold. The Hemmings links will soon go dead but the ad for the Turbine Car will live on in Hyman’s archive. The car’s new home is a collection here in the U.S. and details about it will be revealed soon.
Update 4:36 p.m. CST: Big thanks to a friendly reader for pointing out that exhaust heat was not an issue with the Turbine Cars despite some sources stating such. The above video shows otherwise as well. I regret the error.