1963 Chrysler Turbine

It essentially is made up of four key components: an air compressor, two heat exchangers, and two shafts—one of which is an output shaft. Air enters the front of the engine and is immediately compressed in the air compressor before being warmed by the heat exchangers (one exchanger sits on each side of the engine); next, fuel is sprayed into the compressed, heated air and ignited. After the air/fuel mixture burns at more than 1800 degrees fahrenheit, the resulting hot gases are directed through vanes attached to both the front shaft (which drives the compressor) and the power turbine’s vane (which drives the output shaft), spinning them. The gases are again routed through the heat exchangers (providing the heat for the earlier step in which the intake air is warmed) before being exhausted.

The Turbine car’s turbine engine was bolted to a mildly modified—it lacked a torque converter—Chrysler TorqueFlite three-speed automatic transmission. Why no torque converter? Because the flow of hot gas that drives the power turbine’s vanes pretty much mimics a typical torque converter’s fluid coupling, so keeping the TorqueFlite’s unit would be redundant. Intriguingly, the turbine engine could run on pretty much any combustible fuel, from gasoline to diesel, or even vodka.

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Back to the Future

Do we wish Chrysler had decided to actually fit a 300S with a turbine engine? Of course, but reality—and budgets for tributes to experimental cars past—make that a thin possibility. More interesting than any alternative engine technologies for Chrysler’s past and future pet projects is the Turbine edition’s paint itself. A Chrysler representative told us that the company is taking a serious look at matte paint for production on special or high-performance models. While no specifics were given, it’s safe to assume that cars like the Fiat 500 Abarth, maybe a Jeep Wrangler or two, and anything with an SRT badge would make decent candidates. Plus, Chrysler wouldn’t be entering uncharted waters—several full-line automakers offer matte paint, including Hyundai, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. What about a matte-finished, turbine-powered SRT Vip—okay, we’ll stop. 

Chrysler 300S Turbine Edition

2013 Detroit Auto Show full coverage

By Alexander Stoklosa