That is an installment in a collection of posts wanting again on present vehicles that we really feel deserved somewhat extra consideration than they bought. When you’ve got a suggestion for a Forgotten Idea matter, please shoot us a line or go away a remark under.
Chrysler LeBaron Turbine
First Seen: 1977
Description: Turbine-powered midsize coupe
Gross sales Pitch: “Turbine idea with a brand new dramatic aerodynamic design.”
Although not an idea automotive within the typical “present automotive” sense—it was by no means seen on the auto-show circuit—the Chrysler LeBaron Turbine did characteristic an advanced-technology engine and predictive design options. The idea automotive was constructed utilizing a manufacturing “M-Physique” Chrysler LeBaron coupe that includes numerous design modifications, together with a revamped entrance finish.
Powered by the seventh era of Chrysler’s turbine engine—which mated to a 3-speed automated transmission—the LeBaron idea was stated to be able to working on any of numerous hydrocarbon fuels, together with diesel, kerosene, coal oil, and alcohol, although its powerplant was tuned for gasoline. The LeBaron’s engine was rated initially at 104 horsepower—about the identical as a Chrysler 6-cylinder engine of the day—and was later tweaked for 125 hp.
The idea automotive was made doable by a grant from the U.S. Division of Power, which can clarify why the LeBaron idea was by no means displayed at auto exhibits. Chrysler claimed that the LeBaron Turbine improved on the disappointing gas economic system noticed in earlier Chrysler turbine autos, although that wasn’t an enormous achievement–the idea’s gas economic system was nonetheless no higher than a comparable 1977 manufacturing car. Moreover, the LeBaron idea didn’t enhance on the opposite drivability points that plagued turbine engines, similar to lengthy start-up instances and pronounced throttle lag.
Chrysler bumped into critical monetary points within the late Seventies that stalled turbine-car improvement, and this system was formally retired in 1983. Sharp-eyed observers will be aware the extent to which the LeBaron idea influenced Chrysler’s 1981-1983 Imperial, an image of which may be seen under.
In crime, motive is every thing, however what about automotive engineering? The multi-decade momentum of Chrysler’s turbine program is proof that mission creep isn’t restricted to only battle and colonialism. What started within the Fifties as solution to produce quicker, smoother-running cars had morphed into an alternative-fuel, high-mileage challenge by the Seventies—this even supposing the turbine engine by no means demonstrated any critical potential as an environment friendly automotive powerplant.
Nonetheless, simply as Mazda continues to beat the Wankel-rotor drum (although much less loudly as of late), Chrysler wouldn’t surrender on the turbine engine. Fortunately for auto fanatics, the corporate’s alternative-engine program did produce two very distinctive-looking vehicles for us to look again on and luxuriate in.
Chrysler LeBaron Turbine Gallery
(Click on under for enlarged photographs)