Chrysler Car Brief: 1963 Chrysler Turbine

The 1963 Chrysler Turbine Car was an innovative and futuristic vehicle ahead of its time. Developed by Chrysler Corporation, it was one of the most ambitious experiments in automotive engineering during the 1960s. The car was powered by a gas turbine engine, which offered several advantages over traditional internal combustion engines, including smoother operation and the ability to run on various fuels like diesel, kerosene and even tequila.


Chrysler began experimenting with turbine engines in the early 1950s and created prototypes that completed long-distance trips in the 1950s and early 1960s. The A-831 engines that powered the Turbine Car could operate on many fuels, required less maintenance and lasted longer than conventional piston engines. 


The Turbine Car’s bodies were built by Ghia in Italy; a total of 55 were completed in 1963-64. The cars were made available to 203 drivers in 133 cities for evaluation. The program ended in 1966; although the Turbine never entered production, nine cars of the original group remain today — one of which will be on display at Lime Rock Park for Historic Festival 41 Aug. 31-Sept. 4. 


The Turbine Car’s body was crafted with a sleek and aerodynamic profile, reflecting the Space Age aesthetics of the era. It’s futuristic appearance captured the imagination of the public and helped draw attention to its groundbreaking technology. The exterior design was a blend of luxury and innovation, and the interior boasted many modern amenities, making it a comfortable and advanced ride for its time. (Read more about the unique design from Hagerty)


Despite its promising performance and the positive feedback it received from test drivers, the Chrysler Turbine Car faced challenges. Gas turbine engines had some inherent drawbacks, including higher fuel consumption at lower speeds and difficulties in achieving high levels of efficiency. Additionally, the high operating temperatures of the turbine engine posed engineering challenges. As a result, the Chrysler Turbine Car remained an experimental prototype, and the production never saw a large-scale rollout. Nonetheless, the Turbine Car remains a fascinating relic of a time when automakers were willing to take risks and explore unconventional ideas in their quest to shape the future of transportation.


Fans will have the opportunity to see this rare Turbine Car, along with nearly a dozen more Chrysler concept concept cars displayed throughout the weekend, with a special fan-viewing staging along the Sam Posey Straight for The Lime Rock Concours during Sunday in the Park over Labor Day weekend. 


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