Although it’s reliable and has been around for well over 100 years, the standard 4-stroke internal combustion engine is far from a perfect design. They are very complex devices, create all sorts of nasty pollutants, and aren’t terribly efficient.
As a result of such issues, many alternative engine designs have been developed over the years. One of the most interesting was a in 1963.
Why a turbine? From the viewpoint of engineers, a turbine engine’s rotary smoothness is a far more elegant way to generate power than the 4-stroke otto engine with pistons and crankshafts banging up and down.
Turbines have fewer moving parts and consist of just a bunch of fan blades on a spinning shaft. Only one sparkplug is necessary, making them so efficient that cooling systems are unnecessary. At least on paper, the turbine engine was a car manufacturer’s dream and Chrysler was the first to give it a spin (pun intended.)
Chrysler built a total of 55 complete, ready-to-drive turbine cars, all with bodies hand-built by the Italian automobile design and coachbuilding house Carrozzeria Ghia and a Chrysler-built turbine engine.
For a real-world test, 203 American families were given access to 50 of the turbine cars for testing, each keeping the car for three months and required to record their impressions in logbooks. The service guys at , a local Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, Ram dealer in Woodbridge, VA, told us that Chrysler actually had an elite team of mechanics on call who would fly out and fix the cars immediately if anything went wrong.
Not Ready For Primetime
Unfortunately, Chrysler’s turbine car never went into production, with the major reason being the high cost to produce it. Here are the economics: back in the early 60s you could buy a nice, reliable V8-powered car for some $5000 (a large sum of money in those days), whereas Chrysler’s turbine car would cost you around $16,000.
In other words, for the price of one turbine car, you could buy three standard cars that delivered about the same performance. The turbine car was rated at 130 hp compared to Chrysler’s 318-cubic-inch V8, while gas mileage was also about the same on the highway at 19mpg.
In the end, it was decided that the desire to own a “space age” car would not be enough to get people to buy one that cost three times what a standard one costs so it was never made.
But Research Continued
Chrysler continued to innovate turbine technology. Despite no actual production models being made, between 1949 and 1981, the company built seven different generations of turbine test vehicles and made big improvements.
It appeared that the turbine car would have a chance at life yet again in the 60s and early 70s; however, a major shift in buyer preferences occurred when the oil embargo of 1974 hit. All the sudden, cool turbines and big cars became issues that the public didn’t want, preferring small and ultra-fuel-efficient cars instead.
Today, the Chrysler turbine is just a footnote in automotive history and just three cars of the original 55 survive. Needless to say, they are very valuable cars. Just ask , the comedian and late-night talk show host. In his Big Dog Garage, he has one of them.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Will Be Chinese-Owned?
The Chinese are hunting for an American automaker, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is a prime target.
FCA has already refused offers from a Chinese car brand, but that appears to have resulted in even more bids from other entities. The company has been looking an industrial and financial partner for over five years, a search that might soon come to an end.
Intense government pressure to go global is forcing China’s biggest car manufacturers to buy foreign automakers. Geely is now the owner of Volvo and the London Taxi Company and has a controlling stake in Malaysia’s Proton. ChemChina’s purchase of Italian tire maker Pirelli is yet another example.
Sources familiar with the negotiations told that a major Chinese brand recently offered to buy FCA at “a small premium over its market value,” but that the offer was rejected because it was too low.
Other sources claim other large Chinese automakers are reviewing a potential purchase of FCA, with some of their officials meeting with the company’s executives.
The trusted trade journal reports the sale would include the Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, and Ram brands, with Maserati and Alfa Romeo getting spun off, much like Ferrari was in 2015.
Will Chinese ownership be a good thing for FCA and each of its individual parts? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
The Elegant Chrysler 300 – In Pursuit of Excellence
Is the latest Chrysler 300 the ultimate in elegant cool or what? We got to drive one the other day and we were blown away by its performance, luxurious interior and all around comfort.
At first glance, the 300’s understated low profile and aerodynamic lines told us that whoever bought that beautiful piece of automotive engineering definitely has a chauffeur on hand. Of course, once behind the wheel, we knew that we wouldn’t be letting anyone else drive that beauty because it was simply too much fun and to put in anyone else’s hands.
I mean, who wants to sit in the back seat when you could be driving one of the best cars in the country, anyway?
Now (FCA, for short), the Chrysler Corporation, as many of us already know, is one of the “Big Three” American automakers and one of the biggest globally.
The when Walter Chrysler — yes, that Walter Chrysler — took over the failing Maxwell Motor Company in 1925, changing its name to his own and boosting quality up to his very high standards.
Chrysler also bought the Dodge Brothers Company after they died in the flu epidemic, along with the Fargo Truck Company. Quite the entrepreneur, he developed several other automotive brands that were also pretty successful, notably Plymouth and DeSoto.
Walter Chrysler believed that quality sells and he was right. He wanted to make the best cars for those looking for utmost quality and weren’t afraid to pay for it. His cars and the Chrysler brand, have always conveyed the concept of luxury driving to people and the name continues to mean that to consumers.
Ask the guys at and they will tell you that the Chrysler 300 is the realization of Mr. Chrysler pursuit of vehicular excellence. It offers something for everyone: solid engineering and design, total comfort, power, safety and the confidence of knowing that you are in one of the best cars available in the Unites States.
FCA, Google’s Waymo Reveal Self-Driving Chrysler Pacifica
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Waymo, the Google self-driving car project that was spun-off, have announced the completion of 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans specifically-built to enable fully self-driving operations.
Scheduled to join Waymo’s self-driving test fleet in early 2017, the self-driving Chrysler minivans are outfitted with the company’s fully self-driving technology, which includes a purpose-built computer and a suite of sensors, telematics and other systems.
John Krafcik, Chief Executive Officer of Waymo, stated:
“The Pacifica Hybrid will be a great addition to our fully self-driving test fleet. FCA’s product development and manufacturing teams have been agile partners, enabling us to go from program kickoff to full vehicle assembly in just six months. They’ve been great partners, and we look forward to continued teamwork with them as we move into 2017.”
The Waymo’s pilot project will initially be limited to just 100 test vehicles, but the tech company is said to be the Pacifica to pick up its first paying customers.