Back in the early 1960s, Chrysler produced a unique vehicle that perfectly captured the imagination of the Space Age era. Instead of some sort of six or eight-cylinder engine, this new Chrysler coupe used a powerplant that would have been much more at home under the skin of a helicopter or airplane. I'm talking about a turbine engine, and between 1962 and 1964, Chrysler built 55 examples packing this high-spinning tech.
Of the 50 production vehicles and five pre-production models produced, just nine remain intact. The rest were crushed. Some are in museums and some have landed in private hand, including those of one Jay Leno. Only a handful of the survivors still run and one of the running cars can be found at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum. That's where Road & Track contributor Steve Lehto got to take a Chrysler Turbine Car for a spin.
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Right off the bat, you know you're dealing with something different. It's the noise. There is no low rumble from an American V-8 under that hood. Instead, you have the whine and whir produced by the A381 Chrysler Gas Turbine. It is capable of producing 130 horsepower and a very impressive 425 pound-feet of torque. The redline on a turbine engine like this? In the neighborhood of 60,000 rpm. That leaves even the sportiest of sport bikes drooling with high-revving jealousy.
While the car sounds loud on the outside, it's impressively quiet when the camera is brought inside. With a body shaped by Italian builder Ghia, it's also a rather handsome machine as well. Sadly, though, the technology never worked out and motorists never caught the turbine bug.
For a moment here, though, you can watch this video and see what it's like to drive this unique piece of American automotive history.