With all of the talk about switching to electric vehicles (EVs), many people have forgotten that the search for an alternative source of fuel for automobiles has been decades in the making. In 1954, the then Chrysler Corporation created the Turbine program. Over a 27-year span (until 1981), a total of seven generations of turbine engines were designed. While a majority of the turbine development engines were installed in normal Chrysler Corporation cars and trucks, only the 1963 Chrysler Turbine car was designed to be powered with a turbine engine from the ground up.
A total of 55 Ghia-bodied gas-turbine cars were built between 1963 and 1964. Most of the vehicles were loaned to members of the general public for a three-month trial period. Over the life of the program, a total of 200 families used the Chrysler Turbine vehicles. Their feedback was overwhelmingly positive. All 55 Chrysler Turbine test cars were painted “Turbine Bronze” and had matching interiors. However, one of the vehicles was repainted white and driven in the movie “The Lively Set” by a Chrysler engineer.
To prove the flexibility of the engine, the vehicles were run on perfume, alcohol, kerosene, diesel, and even JP-4 jet fuel. The twin-regenerator gas-turbine engine featured two independent turbine wheels – one to power the vehicle and a second to drive the compressor and engine accessories. This fifth-generation turbine engine was coupled to a modified TorqueFlite 3-speed automatic transmission. Engine output was 130 horsepower and an impressive 450 ft.-lb. of torque at the output shaft.
The Turbine engine was never put into production due to the cost of its manufacture and the fact that fuel economy ratings were never dramatically better than the standard internal combustion engine.
At the end of the evaluation period, all but nine of these cars were scrapped due to tax and import tariffs. Of the nine remaining Chrysler Turbines, two are kept within Chrysler Group’s historical collection and seven were given to museums. The Chrysler Turbine cars currently reside at the Detroit Historical Museum, the Smithsonian, the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, the Peterson Museum in Los Angeles, and Jay Leno. Of the nine known to still be in existence, five remain in operating condition.
To help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Chrysler Turbine car in 2013, the Chrysler design studio created a unique one-off design concept based on the 2013 Chrysler 300S to celebrate the milestone. The 2013 Chrysler 300S “Turbine Edition” featured a “Turbine Bronze” matte-finished exterior paint with Gloss Black painted roof.
At the front, a more pronounced front fascia with unique upper and lower machined-billet grille hark to the original Ghia-bodied model’s craftsmanship. The original car’s bold shadowed headlamps formed from its concentric ring design are brought back to life through this Chrysler 300S model’s Gloss Black headlamp bezels.
The two-tone color combination continues as the rolled-door frames and taillamp surrounds are finished in accenting Gloss Black. Most prominent to the profile of the Chrysler 300S Turbine Edition is its uniquely machined “turbine” styled wheels. With 20 sculpted-fin blades spanning the 22-inch wheels in diameter, the polished-finish wheels provide an aggressive stance and striking tribute. At the rear, a body-color deck-lid spoiler provided a more dynamic look.
Although it didn’t have a turbine engine, the 2013 Chrysler 300S Turbine Edition never made it into production. Instead, it became a beautiful show piece on the auto show circuit during the year. The Turbine Edition is often forgotten, unlike the car it paid homage to.
2013 Chrysler 300S “Turbine Edition” Image Gallery: