The Jet Set
During the height of the space race, Chrysler built a car with a turbine engine—and then they had to destroy it.
4:35 PM, Sep 27, 2010 • By VICTORINO MATUS
In this past weekend's Wall Street Journal, Patrick Cooke has a fascinating review of Chrysler's Turbine Car. Yes, the automotive giant once managed to install a jet engine under a vehicle's hood. The performance results were off the charts:
Not only that, but "the engine now ran so smoothly that one retired turbine engineer tells the author that a nickel could be placed on its edge, standing on the engine, 'and the nickel would stay there.' The engine, he said, 'was virtually vibration free.'"
The company selected 203 test drivers out of 30,000 applicants. And needless to say, the feedback was enormously positive—one driver even sent back a blank check. (The experience of merely starting the car is likened to the start sequence on a rocket ship.) But the car never took off for a variety of reasons, including the OPEC oil embargo of 1973. In the end, to prevent competitors from getting hold of this car-turbine technology, Chrysler ordered the remaining models destroyed (although a few survived—one of which is owned by Jay Leno).
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