Member Sightings of the Chrysler Turbine Car
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We had the pleasure of going to a 300 club meet which was at the museum a
few years back.
It was a rainy spring day and they had the turbine car out and they were
giving rides to us. I felt bad having my car there but having the turbine
car out in the bad weather real hurt! Was a great day though.
Got my cousin Will Hoeman out there for the day and gave my ride in the
Turbine to him. He was wheelchair bound and is now deceased but had
recently retired from Chrysler. He was in charge of the St Louis parts
depot for many years and had hired on in the 20s. He had known Walter P
himself and was very proud of it. It was a great day for him.
Of significance concerning the Turbine car is the fact that it was given to
them by Chrysler as a totally non functional vehicle for dead display only.
The entire drivetrain or at least most of it was separate in a series of
crates and considered to not be useable. I don't believe Chrysler thought
it could be put together again at all. A man with the museum got ahold of a
service manual and proceeded to restore the car to what it is today. They
had to fabricate a number of unique parts as I understand. I was and still
Its worth seeing!
Terry & Andree Hoeman
There was a lot of discussion about turbines on this list in 9/97, after
Frank Klepst showed up at Pebble Beach with the only running turbine in
hands. It was known that there is another running one in the St. Louis
Various other turbines (5 - 8) are also in museums. All are entirely
inoperable - all the guts have been taken out of everything mechanical.
I talked to Mr. Klepst at the Pebble Beach show. Frank told me it was
only with the kind help of Jay Leno and Bob Lutz that he was able to
obtain the parts to get his running.
Our club (SCIO) publication then (the "Imperial Eagle") had a story
about this car and how one member, John Lloyd, got a ride from Frank at
Bob (long ago got many rides in St. Louis' other famous jet, with 2
engines, 2 seats & Mach 2 speed) Schmitt
The Turbine Car really was a great car. I am really saddened and dismayed
that the car was never built. There is a great site about the
Turbine Car. The address is www.turbinecar.com
With Imperial Regards,
For the record: every non-operational Turbine car that was given to various
museums included an NOS turbine engine in the crate. All Turbine cars that
were donated to museums was non-operational!
Couldn't help jumping in on the turbine issue...
I got a chance to see a turbine car owned by Chrysler Corporation at the
Concours d'Elegance show at Meadowbrook Hall, north of Detroit in August
1990. The car was bearing manufacturer's plates and had been driven to the show by
a Chrysler employee (and his wife). I talked to the guy after seeing the car
sitting with the hood up. Turns out it had vapor locked and the hood was up
to cool things off. He told me they filled the tank with a 50/50 87 octane/diesel
fuel mix, I think. I had always wanted to see one of these and hear it run and I got my chance
there. My recollection is that the starter made a whining noise and then
there was a 'pop' like when you light a propane torch. Then just a low humming
noise. I was very impressed. Also, the volume of hot air coming out the tail
pipes was incredible! The outlets were about the size of shoe box tops and
almost parallel to the ground. A *lot* of air goes through that turbine.
I was equally thrilled to get the chance to see the interior of the car and
even stick my head inside. Much to my surprise, all the knobs, handles, and
other trim were totally unique to the turbine car. I expected to see
off-the-shelf window cranks, etc. but that wasn't the case. Everything seemed to have a
rocket/futuristic look and all the parts looked totally production ready.
The only thing I didn't like about the car was the tires. It was fitted
with GoodYear Arriva radials which didn't look right to me at the time.
I have 5 pictures of the car and will scan/email them to an IML
administrator for posting in the archives if anyone is interested.
I also have one of the original Turbine brochures that I can scan.
I thought I'd mention my experience with a GM (gasp!) turbine car. One of
the cool things about living in the Metro Detroit area are the occasional glimpses of
things you catch on the street. (Like all the 50s GM showcars junked out at
Warhoops, bizarre "mules" driving at odd hours, etc.).
When I was 15-years-old, ('88) I was working at a local supermarket. Around
closing time, I was outside gathering shopping carts. Out of the corner of my eye, I
spotted a '75 Buick Century sedan entering the far end of the parking lot. I noticed
the car for three reasons...
1) They are extremely ugly.
2) Kojak drove one.
3) This example was in flawless condition.
As it got closer, I noticed its strange sound, sort of like a giant vacuum
cleaner. As it passed by me, I saw the wraparound dash and full digital instrument
panel. Of course, when it parked I approached the driver. He explained that it was
a test car from an aborted GM turbine car program in the 70s. He was an engineer at
GM's Warren, MI Tech Center, and that this car had been kept in the Tech Center
fleet instead of being destroyed. It was exercised occasionally for
"doughnut-runs" such as this, but never during daylight or peak traffic hours. He answered all of
my questions, but would not permit a look under the hood.
So if you ever find yourself in the east-side suburbs of Detroit late at
night, pay special attention to any mint-condition, sky-blue Kojak-mobiles.
I had the chance to sit in Mr. Klebst's Turbine car
not long ago, and the first thing about the interior
that jumped out at me was the fact that the control
knobs were same used in the '64-66 era Imperial!
Spectacular car. And you are right about the exhaust.
It left two large brown patches of baked & dried grass
on the manicured 18th hole at Amelia Island during the
Concours. Mr. Klebst's car still had the original
tires on it, which he indicated were unique to the
Turbine car. (They had very discreet turbine vanes
moulded in.) The cars sounds like a small private jet
taking off when it accelerates. It seems to have a
rubber band kind of throttle response that must take a
little getting used to.
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