Curtis LeMay's Jet Car

robunos

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Reading the excellent 'From RAINBOW to GUSTO', on page 162,
I came across the following quote :-

"LeMay kept a special sports car at Offutt Air Force Base, powered
by a turbine engine provided by Boeing......."

Does anyone have anything more on this, and is this the real
reason LeMay liked Boeing bombers so much?? ;D


cheers,
Robin.
 

GeorgeA

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Yes, I saw that and was wondering about it myself. LeMay was major car guy and used to allow the SCCA to run races at SAC bases well into the 1950s. He had a few sports cars but this was the first I'd heard of a turbine car (which are extremely rare even in the hot rodding world -- although Jay Leno has one).

Google brought me this, which is a well-known hot rod, but the wrong LeMay:

http://www.lemaymuseum.org/vehicles.php?vid=593

And how good is Google? Your query is hit no. 8:

1 post - 1 author - Last post: 37 minutes ago
"LeMay kept a special sports car at Offutt Air Force Base, powered by a turbine engine provided by Boeing......." Does anyone have anything more on this, ...
www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=8499... - 37 minutes ago -

Edit: found this on the HAMB. Not exactly a "sports car" but an early Indy 500 turbine job, and yes that's Curt in the top photo (reply #12):

http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=316931
 

robunos

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Thanks for that...must have been fun driving that car, with that big exhaust out in front.... ;)

I'm also intrigued by the 'engine provided by Boeing', did Boeing do any engine development,
ie was it a Boeing prototype, or was it a 'standard' engine, they just 'happened to have lying around'.

cheers,
Robin.
 

GeorgeA

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A little extra research reveals that it was a Kurtis sprint car chassis, not an Indianapolis (or "championship") car as they were known then. LeMay was a mechanical engineer by training and frequently tinkered with cars or hung around people who did.

It also appears that the car still exists and is in the basement of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum.

To answer Robin's question, Boeing built a series of small turboshaft engines in the 1950s that were intended for helicopter applications.
 

robunos

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Boeing built a series of small turboshaft engines in the 1950s that were intended for helicopter applications.

Fascinating, that's new information for me.

It also appears that the car still exists and is in the basement of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum.

I wonder if it will ever see the light of day again...


cheers,
Robin.
 

GeorgeA

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Pretty sure it was the T50 (Boeing model 502 series) mentioned here:

http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,5819.0.html
 

bobbymike

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No mention of Curtis LeMay (my favorite general) but interesting article nonetheless:

The Jet Set
During the height of the space race, Chrysler built a car with a turbine engine—and then they had to destroy it.

4:35 PM, Sep 27, 2010 ·
BY Victorino Matus

In this past weekend's Wall Street Journal, Patrick Cooke has a fascinating review of Chrysler's Turbine Car. Yes, the automotive giant once managed to install a jet engine under a vehicle's hood. The performance results were off the charts:

As [author Steve Lehto] notes, "the cars ran on any flammable liquid. Not just gasoline but diesel, kerosene, jet fuel, peanut oil, alcohol, tequila, perfume, and many other substances fueled [designer George Huebner's] turbine cars at one time or another." (The joke went that if a driver ever ran out of fuel he could always dash into a drugstore for a bottle of aftershave.) Turbines weighed less than piston engines, had fewer moving parts and were easy to work on. What's more, they never needed a tuneup or an oil change and could cruise all day at 100 miles per hour.... By the fourth generation Huebner's engineers found that their turbine car engine could run an amazing 5,000 hours in tests, compared with 3,000 hours for a normal piston engine.

Not only that, but "the engine now ran so smoothly that one retired turbine engineer tells the author that a nickel could be placed on its edge, standing on the engine, 'and the nickel would stay there.' The engine, he said, 'was virtually vibration free.'"

The company selected 203 test drivers out of 30,000 applicants. And needless to say, the feedback was enormously positive—one driver even sent back a blank check. (The experience of merely starting the car is likened to the start sequence on a rocket ship.) But the car never took off for a variety of reasons, including the OPEC oil embargo of 1973. In the end, to prevent competitors from getting hold of this car-turbine technology, Chrysler ordered the remaining models destroyed (although a few survived—one of which is owned by Jay Leno).
 

AeroFranz

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The Rolls-Royce/Allison museum inside their facility in Indianapolis had a gas turbine powered car in it. No idea what it was, though. It looked fairly old, with the car having '60s or '70s looks.
 

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