05.31.17 - Tequila

There have been many different ways that cars have been built over the years and a large number of different engines that have been created to allow vehicles to have the propulsion needed and the drive that makes a difference on the road. Companies have experimented with different engine technologies ever since the invention of the internal combustion engine and one company even took a world tour with one of their experiments that had been one of their most prideful expressions of what engine technology should be and could be for us to admire and enjoy on the road.

Chrysler experimented with a specific type of engine for a long time. This engine was a turbine engine that was used from 1953 until 1988 in pursuit of an engine that would offer more for less. This particular engine was a fascination of George Huebner who was the head of Chrysler at the time. Not only did he love what the turbine engine could do, but he also loved the fact that it took fewer moving parts to operate this engine because they spun rather than reciprocating. This engine was built in such a way that it could run on any flammable liquid.

During the time of this experimental program by Chrysler the 1963 model year offered the highlight of the time in existence. Fifty cars were built that were powered by the turbine engine, all of which were painted in a bronze color. Some of these cars were lent out to regular people who were allowed to use them for a few months, two were sent to the New York World’s Fair and one was given the distinction of being the world traveler that would eventually have the most stories to tell upon its return to the US.

Because one of the biggest selling points of this car was the fact that the turbine engine could run on any flammable liquid, and the Chrysler PR team made a point of stating this face whenever they were near a media member, the curiosity was abound for this car. This car had been powered by gasoline; diesel and even home heating oil to make sure this car would operate perfectly on the road. These all seemed safe enough choices considering their uses, but what would happen when a different type of fuel was requested and the car needed to perform in order to uphold the claim?

The challenge came when the Chrysler turbine car made its way to Mexico. This was a car that piqued the curiosity of the leaders of many nations and wherever this car went it was able to receive the red carpet treatment. When the car arrived in Mexico, the President of the country decided to greet the team and take a look at the car with one question in mind. Could the Chrysler turbine car run on Tequila? He was willing to provide the fuel if the team was willing to put it in the tank but the team wasn’t sure at first.

One call back to Huebner and the rest of the team in Detroit and the challenge was on. The team in Detroit put a few gallons of Tequila in one of the models they had in the lab and found that the engine ran perfectly. This required a call back to Mexico to confirm they could in fact put Tequila in the tank and run the car. This car then gave the President of Mexico a quick ride while being powered by Tequila and then became known as the only car that drove drunk.

Written by Blaine Traber

I enjoy Design and Architecture. This includes cars, I have always loved the design of a vehicle and it is what led me to work in the Automotive Industry at Honda. I'm also a freelance automotive journalist.

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