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Transportation Technology

The Rise and Fall of America's Jet-Powered Car 338

Posted by samzenpus
from the fly-to-work dept.
Pickens writes "The WSJ reports that the automobile designs of the 1950s and 1960s were inspired by the space race and the dawn of jet travel. But one car manufacturer, Chrysler, was bold enough to put a jet engine in an automobile that ran at an astounding 60,000 rpm on any flammable fluid including gasoline, diesel, kerosene, jet fuel, peanut oil, alcohol, tequila, or perfume. Visionary Chrysler designer George Huebner believed that there was plenty to recommend the turbine. People loved the car. In a publicity scheme to promote its 'jet' car, Chrysler commissioned Ghia to handcraft 50 identical car bodies and each car would be lent to a family for a few months and then passed on to another. Chrysler received more than 30,000 requests in 1962 to become test drivers and eventually 203 were chosen who logged more than one million miles (mostly trouble free) in the 50 Ghia prototypes. In the end Chrysler killed the turbine car after OPEC's 1973 oil embargo. 'How different would America be now if we all drove turbine-powered cars? It could have happened. But government interference, shortsighted regulators, and indifferent corporate leaders each played a role in the demise of a program that could have lessened US dependence on Middle East oil.'"
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The Rise and Fall of America's Jet-Powered Car

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