Four cylinder Honda Civic Hatchback doesn’t have enough “get-up-and-go” for your tastes? Maybe it’s time to upgrade to a Steve Saunders-esque V8 Corvette. Or maybe you want to drop some serious cash and get the 16 cylinder Veyron (with its four turbochargers). But no matter how many cylinders it has, your car won’t ever be as cool as one powered by a turbine jet engine.
Typically thought of for airplanes, helicopters, locomotives and army tanks, turbine engines have some interesting advantages over internal combustion: lower weight, increased horsepower and torque, and you can feed them almost anything – the ones I’ve played with were filled with kerosene, diesel, and anything else highly flammable we could find in the garage. They’re reasonably simple machines, mechanically less complicated than a car’s gas engine. But they also come with an hefty thirst, and generate crazy amounts of heat.
For the past ten years, Michael Davis has been building his own turbine jets from parts that he sources online and in junkyards. Based around a standard automotive turbocharger, Davis spent about $150 and four months to get his first unit up and running. His site follows all the trials and errors of building a jet engine this way, and serves as a good guide for anyone interested in playing with loud, powerful jets in their back yard.
Combine his site with this Instructable about building your own jet engine and you should have the full recipe for putting together the ultimate noisemaker.
Now, the fun part. Back in the early 1960’s, Chrysler focused a lot of resources on creating a viable turbine jet engine car. The high point of their push was in 1963 when they released 50 cars to a group of “average” people for real world testing. The results were good, and according to the car’s wikipedia page, the cars logged 1.1million miles over the testing phase and only had 4% downtime. But, hilariously, they were described as sounding like giant vacuum cleaners, a negative point that helped kill the program. Ultimately and unfortunately, the whole program died during the government bail out in the 1970s.
Chrysler also produced a promotional video for the turbine program in classic early-60’s style. Check out the proving grounds they test their cars on – that’s an unusual amount of winding dirt trails for your “average” Chrysler driver, right? If it still exists, I would love to bring a few cars there to test out myself.
Other turbine engine cars pop up from time to time, most recently a few weeks ago on eBay when someone was unloading a Boeing T-50 powered Porsche 928. Complete with flame throwers from the hood of the car. As my pal Steve commented, you have to wonder how long you can drive that thing until the windshield melts… Regardless, it sold for $12,000 – although it was originally listed at $20k.
1982 PORSCHE 928 WITH A BOEING TURBINE ENGINE
TURBINE ENGINES RUN FINE ON DIESEL
POWER DISK BRAKES ALL 4
HEATER AND DEF….(BLEED AIR TO HEATER CORE)
NEW WHEELS 18″
JVC FM AND CD PLAYER WITH REMOTE
OVER 160 MPH
700+ FOOT POUNDS OF TORQUE
IT’S A DAILY DRIVER AND A SHOW CAR
USE TO BE NEW
AT LAST AN AIR COOLED 928