Offering a behind-the-scenes look into the world of automotive research and development in the 1960s, this engaging narrative traces the birth of Chrysler’s alternative “jet” car and reveals the story behind its sudden and mysterious demise. Relying on extensive research and firsthand accounts from surviving members of the turbine car program—including the metallurgist who created the exotic metals for the engine and the test driver who drove it at Chrysler's proving grounds—this chronicle documents the bold development of an automobile with a jet turbine engine. In addition to running well on virtually any flammable liquid—including kerosene, vodka, heating oil, and Chanel N°5 perfume—the pioneering engines had one fifth the number of moving parts and required less maintenance than conventional engines. Despite the fleet’s amazing performance over millions of miles by test drivers, Chrysler pulled the plug on the project and crushed almost all of the cars. The reasons behind the surprising end to the jet car fleet are finally explained here.
‘Steve Lehto gives the most detailed and in-depth analysis of the men behind this amazing auto. Here is what happened to their dream of building a gas-turbine car.’
‘Extensive notes and a comprehensive bibliography contribute to a detailed, entertaining meander through the history of 'Detroit's Coolest Car.'’
-New York Times
‘A fascinating new book.’
‘The story of Chrysler’s lengthy involvement with turbine power is related with enthusiasm and in fascinating detail.’
-Globe and Mail
‘A fascinating example of engineering and product development . . . Motorheads will love it.’
Steve Lehto is an author and an adjunct professor of law and Michigan history at the University of Detroit Mercy. He is the author of Death’s Door: The Truth Behind Michigan’s Largest Mass Murder, a 2007 Michigan Notable Book, and Michigan’s Columbus: The Life of Douglass Houghton. He lives in Royal Oak, Michigan.
Jay Leno is a stand-up comedian, a television host, and a writer. He contributes a column to Popular Mechanics, which showcases his collection of more than 200 vehicles and advice about automotive topics. He lives in Beverly Hills, California.