Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Chrysler’s Tequila slurping gas turbine car “The Bronze Blowtorch” with body by Ghia of Turin Italy

Chrysler experimented with turbine powered cars in the 50's and 60's, and the fleet of 55 bronze colored cars they built in 1963 were the highly publicized and easiest to recognize. The Chrysler Turbine Car was the first and only consumer test ever conducted of gas turbine-powered cars.

They lent 50 of the cars to regular people who got to test drive them for a few months. A couple were sent to the New York World's Fair where visitors could ride in them around a small track.

And one went on a whirlwind tour of the globe.

The cars which were lent to consumers for testing were often fueled by diesel and home heating oil, but the engineers tested them on a whole raft of other fuels. And whenever the press was within earshot, the multi-fuel capability of the engine was often touted.

One ended up in Mexico on that world tour and the President of Mexico, Adolfo Mateos, came out to see the car and greet the Chrysler representative who had brought it. As the president heard the typical pitch about the various things the car would run on, he was curious. Would the car run on tequila? He offered to provide them the tequila if, in fact, the car could run on it.

While the car had been tested on a variety of liquids that packed a punch, no one knew if the car had ever actually been run on tequila.

The Chrysler PR man with the car quickly called back to Detroit to ask if it would be safe to run tequila through the engine. Detroit HQ quickly sent someone to a local party story, the engineers ran a few gallons of tequila through a turbine engine and called down to Mexico and confirmed that the car would, indeed, run on tequila.

 A few gallons were dumped in the tank and the president was given a quick spin in the car–powered by the tequila he had requested.

Forty six of the fifty production cars were trialed by a total of 203 drivers. Generally drivers were positive about the cars, critical comments being made about the lazy acceleration from a standing start and comparatively lower fuel economy.

At the end of the trials in 1966 Chrysler destroyed 46 of the 55 cars not wanting them to be a potential source of bad publicity if they were poorly maintained.

Chrysler retained one operational turbine car for historical reasons and it appears at car shows around the United States from time to time.

Jay Leno owns one, and automobile collector Frank Kleptz of Terre Haute, Indiana owns the other.

A turbine car, painted white with blue racing stripes (the sole car not to be painted bronze), featured in the 1964 film The Lively Set.



  1. That was quite a thing hearing Jay tell of seeing it as a boy , and all these many years later there it is in his garage .

    I was like that long ago with Ferro . Looking at them in books , and then I just sorta ended up with one .... now what ? lol

    20 years later I guess I'm gonna have to build a boat to put it in

    1. Ferro? What's that, and yes, of course you must build a boat for whatever it is! Ha!