Tag Archives: Chrysler Turbine car

The Chrysler Turbine Car in Indianapolis

I remember seeing the Chrysler Turbine Car that Butler University’s assistant athletics director Henry A. Johnson drove around Indianapolis during the turbine car user program in early 1964.

I stood at the campus bus stop waiting for the bus to high school and heard a whooshing sound as the mysterious turbine car passed by. To me it was a bronze rocket car of tomorrow. For a budding car nut like myself, these moments ignited (no pun intended) my automotive obsession.

Chrysler Turbine 3/4 front

The turbine engines and chassis were built at Chrysler’s Greenfield Avenue turbine research center in Detroit. Chrysler executive Elwood P. Engle designed the bodies and interiors were mostly hand-crafted by Ghia in Italy and shipped to Detroit for final assembly. One of the most interesting styling features of the car was the console that ran the length of the cabin, from the firewall to between the rear seats, with its straked and gentle rib detailing. The car’s futuristic styling has been called smooth and sleek. That’s what drew me to the car.

Chrysler Turbine console

The Chrysler Turbine Car was introduced to the public on May 14, 1963, at the Essex House in New York City. A week earlier, Chrysler announced that it would lend each of the 50 Turbine Cars to select members of the public for three-month drives during the two-year user program. The immediate public response was overwhelming – 30,000 sent in requests asking to be involved in the program within six weeks of the announcement. About 202 participated in the program.

Chrysler Turbine 3/4 rear

B. W. Bogan, Chrysler vice president and director of engineering, presented the keys to the turbine car to the Johnson family in front of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Motel in mid-December 1963. Each of the program’s families were thoroughly familiarized with these unique autos before commencing the three-month program. At the end of the drivers’ stint, Chrysler officials queried them about their experience. Most were very enthusiastic with their evaluation. Some wanted to purchase their test car.

The user program was a positive experience for the Chrysler Corporation, but the difficulties of economically producing the exotic turbine engines and government clean-air regulations hampered mass turbine production.

The Chrysler Turbine Car still lives on in my memory.

Top five car culture web resources

Over the years, I have discovered a number of car culture web resources while doing research for my writing and website development.  So, I would like to share my “Top five car culture web resources.”

Jay Leno’s Garage

 Jay Leno’s Garage has to be my number one source for all things about collectible cars.  I enjoy how Jay shares items from his vast antique car collection as well as other auto enthusiast topics.  Weekly he produces a video about the latest happenings around his shop.  Recent videos featured the 1963 Chrysler Turbine Car, Lee Iacocca’s 45th Anniversary Ford Mustang, 1910 White Model O-O steam car, and 1914 Premier.  He also likes to interview other auto hobbyists on topics like all about gas, the perfect paint job, and other tips and tricks.  I visit this site weekly for my fix on Jay’s slant on car culture.


My second choice is Autoextremeist.com  written by Peter M. De Lorenzo, a 30 plus year automotive advertising and marketing veteran.  I like his unbiased take on happenings in the American auto manufacturing industry and auto racing scene.  PMD pulls no-punches in analyzing how things like the rise in gas prices may affect auto manufacturing and the buying public.  He presents an interesting perspective on auto industry executive decisions and how they might pan out over time.  He has an interesting take on American auto racing and what might be done to improve the product on the track.  There are few other places to get this insider information.

eBay Motors Blog

The eBay Motors Blog  presents overviews of significant collectible cars currently offered on the popular eBay auction website.  Capsule summaries discuss the significant items regarding a particular car like current price range, plusses and minuses, and why this might be a good value.  Some recent cars have been a 1954 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster, 1977 Fiat 500, 1965 Shelby Cobra replica, and one of my dream cars, a 1971 Jaguar E-Type coupe.  This blog covers vintage cars across the automotive spectrum.  Where else can you find a 1968 Chevelle Nomad wagon that could be a collectible daily driver?


Jalopnik  offers a daily plethora of eclectic automotive items.  Recent unusual articles had topics like a 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III Continenchero pick-up truck conversion, General Motors recent recall of Chevrolet Cruze models for steering problems, Microsoft and Toyota announcing a strategic partnership on next-generation auto telematics, 2012 Chevrolet Corvette Zo6 Centennial edition announcement, and auto centric wallpaper selections for your browser.  If it’s wild and wacky, you might find it on Jalopnik.

The New York Times Collectible Cars

The New York Times Collectible Cars  section covers a range of classic cars.  One story details a 1963 Buick Wildcat coupe that is still owned by the daughter of the original purchaser, who lives in her childhood home in Brooklyn, NY, almost 50 years later.  The daughter recounted how her father solicited her help in servicing the car many years ago.  She goes on to describe the car’s luxurious interior features and the documentation of all service in a diary.  These features paint pictures of collectible cars over the years.  Celebrating 50 years of the Jaguar E-Type is featured here also.

So, there you have my picks for the Top five car culture web resources.”  Check them out, and then share your picks of car culture web resources.