The Chrysler Turbine Car is an experimental two-door hardtop coupe powered by a turbine engine and manufactured by Chrysler from 1963–1964. The bodywork was constructed by Italian design studio Carrozzeria Ghia and Chrysler completed the final assembly in Detroit. A total of 55 cars were manufactured: five prototypes and 50 cars for a public user program. The car, styled by Elwood Engel and the Chrysler studios, featured power brakes, power steering, and a TorqueFlite transmission. It sports a metallic paint called “turbine bronze”
The Chrysler turbine engine program that produced the Turbine Car began during the late 1930s and created multiple prototypes that successfully completed numerous long-distance trips in the 1950s and early 1960s. The A-831 engines that powered the Ghia-designed Turbine Car could operate on many different fuels, required less maintenance, and lasted longer than conventional piston engines, although they were much more expensive to produce.
Chrysler conducted a user program from October 1963 to January 1966 that involved 203 individual drivers in 133 different cities across the US cumulatively driving more than one million miles. The program helped Chrysler determine a variety of problems, notably their complicated starting procedure, unimpressive acceleration, and sub-par fuel economy and noise level. The experience also revealed key advantages of the turbine engines, including their remarkable durability, smooth operation, and relatively modest maintenance requirements.
After the user program ended in 1966, Chrysler reclaimed the cars and destroyed all but nine: Chrysler kept two cars, six are displayed at museums in the United States, one is owned by Jay Leno, and one has made its home at Stahl’s
Chrysler’s turbine engine program ended in 1979, largely due to the failure of the engines to meet government emissions regulations, poor fuel economy, and as a prerequisite of receiving a government loan in 1979.