Michael Bowler’s recent letter mentioning turbine cars reminds me that in the mid ’60s, I drove a turbine-engined Chrysler Ghia coupe. Chrysler had such faith in it they were flying it in on a world demo tour of 47,000 miles.
I was one of the British motor-scribes invited to the Bridge Hotel, Dorking, to sample it. It was not to be too freely inspected. From without, its idle reminded me of a rather frenzied Foden steam wagon. It ran on Mobil JP-4 fuel, the tachometer read from 18,000-44,600rpm, the inlet temperature was 1500 degrees F, and if you stood by the exhaust tailpipe it warmed one’s feet.
On the road it ran smoothly; there was power steering and brakes, and 17mpg was claimed. It was impressive, as was the PR for it — back at the hotel, although instant cameras were rare, within minutes I was presented with a wallet showing me standing by the car. As Michael says, the FIA outlawed turbines for racing, and, rather a pity, Chrysler dropped their turbine road car.