In 1963, Chrysler released only 55 Turbine cars for short-term loans to the public in order to test the model’s performance and functionality. While the Turbine was revolutionary in its own right with a smooth turbine engine that could be powered by different fuel types, it was ultimately pulled from the assembly line.
All but 9 of the Turbines were destroyed, making this rare car even more of a prize sought after by auto collectors. Of those 9, Chrylser kept 2 and sent 5 others to museums, which left 2 for private owners. One is owned by talk show host and comedian Jay Leno.
The other Turbine in private hands was owned by Frank Kleptz, a car collector and historian, until his death in 2010. The Kleptz family held onto his extensive classic car collection for years but finally put the Turbine up for auction in March 2021 and it sold to an unknown owner for an unknown amount—which sounds just a bit mysterious, doesn’t it?
But now we know who the owner is.
The Kleptz Turbine was bought by the Stahl family of Chesterfield, Michigan and donated to the Stahls Automotive Foundation Museum. The museum restores and preserves vintage cars and car parts to put on display.
The history of Chrysler Turbine cars
Chrysler made only 55 Turbines as a sort of experiment in 1963. Their goal was to make a car with a simpler engine (using…yep, you guessed it: turbines) that could run on various types of fuel, not just gasoline. They actually succeeded in doing so, but unfortunately the idea didn’t stick because of bad emissions and terrible fuel economy.
In 1966, all but 9 of the Chrysler Turbine cars were set on fire and crushed—most of the remaining 9 were sent to museums, Chrysler kept 2 and 2 were sold to the public.
The idea for a turbine engine was actually a great idea overall (minus the nitrous oxide let off by the engine) because it was much more durable and a very smooth ride. Not only that, but a Chrysler Turbine engine could run on just about any type of fuel—unleaded gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel, kerosene and (supposedly) even alcohol.
During the 1960s, there was a lot of experimentation going on with alternative fuel and new technology in vehicles. All of the ideas were actually pretty brilliant (despite a lot of bad experimentation going on in the 60s), but they just weren’t quite sustainable.
When and where you can see this Chrysler Turbine
Interested in seeing this rare car in person?
You can visit the museum in Chesterfield, MI and see the Chrysler Turbine on Tuesdays from 1:00-4:00 p.m. The museum is free, but donations are welcome.
The owners are also planning to take the car out for demonstration drives every so often and bring it out for their summer cruise-in nights.