Technical aspects of automobiles

Re: Turbine engine kits

Didn’t Foyt put a turbine engine into a car for an early 60′s indy
race?  I don’t think it ever ran at indy, but since he had a few spare
engines, one was installed into a late 70′s vette.  Required a
tremendous amount of specially fabricated components.  Front end
needed to be redesigned and built to make space.  Fuel, intake,
exhaust, etc needed to be designed and fabricated.  I remember that it
‘idled’ at 60mph.  Torque was strong enough to break the u-joints in
the rear.  Also think that it could smoke the tires most of the 1/4
mile.

Anyone else remember anything about it? Seems to me to have been
written up in one of the car mags.  Also think the engine was a small
stationary turbine.

Frank Cannavale III !uunet!ulticorp!frank   The Ultimate Corp, E.  Hanover, NJ
"The Social Democratic government on Friday began dismantling the welfare state
it built, proposing sharp cuts in benefits and state jobs to stop the country’s
economic decline." — AP Stockholm, Sweden 10/26/90
Too bad the US Congress doesn’t read the news, it could learn something.

.
posted by admin in Uncategorized and have Comments (11)

11 Responses to “Re: Turbine engine kits”

  1. admin says:

    In article <4…@ulticorp.UUCP> fr…@ulticorp.UUCP (Frank Cannavale III) writes:

    >Didn’t Foyt put a turbine engine into a car for an early 60′s indy
    >race?  I don’t think it ever ran at indy, but since he had a few spare
    >engines, one was installed into a late 70′s vette.  Required a

    The turbine not only ran (a couple times??) but it damn near won:  it
    was leading when a $.08 gasket or some such gave out near the end.  USAC
    got scared and effectively put it out of compitition by retricting the
    intake area (I think).

  2. admin says:

    Several car companies at least thought about gas turbines in the late
    Fifties and early Sixties.  Chrysler, which had an advanced skunkworks
    project in this area, went so far as to build a few hundred streetworthy
    turbine-powered sedans to sort of test the waters.  They were called
    something clever like the Chrysler Turbine Car and resembled a cross
    between a Plymouth Satellite and a T-bird.  There was an article
    on them in Car & Driver a year or so back.

    Apparently, once you got them up to speed, they were sinfully nice highway
    floatmobiles in the manner of that era, but were sluggish around town, and
    not very fuel-efficient. In the era of quarter-a-gallon premium gasoline and
    big V8s, the Turbine Car had to be declared a noble failure.  Most examples
    were destroyed by the factory after the evaluation period so as not to
    pay taxes on them, and only a very few survive today.

    I believe–gotta look it up–that a turbine-powered race car made a credible
    attempt to win at Indy in ’64 or ’65 or some such in the hands of a former
    F1 driver until something broke (not the turbine).  The reasons for aban-
    donment of turbines for race cars escape me at the moment.

    –Joe
    "Just another personal opinion from the People’s Republic of Berkeley"

  3. admin says:

    In article <4…@ulticorp.UUCP>, fr…@ulticorp.UUCP (Frank Cannavale III) writes:

    > Didn’t Foyt put a turbine engine into a car for an early 60′s indy
    > race?  I don’t think it ever ran at indy, but since he had a few spare
    > exhaust, etc needed to be designed and fabricated.  I remember that it
    > ‘idled’ at 60mph.  Torque was strong enough to break the u-joints in
    > the rear.  Also think that it could smoke the tires most of the 1/4
    > mile.
    > Anyone else remember anything about it? Seems to me to have been
    > written up in one of the car mags.  Also think the engine was a small
    > stationary turbine.

    I dont know anything about the Foyt turbine, but I recall reading about
    experiments Chrysler did with turbines in the early 60′s..  As I recall,
    the performance numbers weren’t very impressive, but the car got good
    fuel economy wether it was running on gasoline, hairspray, paint thinner,
    or a quart of Jack Daniels..  The project was scrapped since Chrysler
    feared that the average person would never accept this "brave new
    technology".

            -Jeff

  4. admin says:

            I seem to remember a 60 minutes (CBS) report on a turbine
    installed in a Corvette or a Trans-Am type car.  It might have been as
    many as ten years ago.
            Advantages cited included high reliability and the ability to
    use almost anything as fuel, including gasoline, alcohol, jet fuel,
    kerosene, diesel, propane, etc.
            Disadvantages included the whine of the turbine, and the need
    for a modified transmission to handle the high rpm of a turbine
    engine.
            They showed the thing driving around, and it didn’t "idle at
    60 m.p.h."  I don’t remember what they said about fuel economy,
    acceleration, or emissions.
            Also, recently on the "Discovery Channel" there has been a
    program called "Centenary of the Motorcar" or something like that.  It
    includes a segment showing a Mercedes-Benz test sedan with a gas
    turbine engine.

    -Allan

  5. admin says:

    In article <4…@ulticorp.UUCP> fr…@ulticorp.UUCP (Frank Cannavale III) writes:

    >Didn’t Foyt put a turbine engine into a car for an early 60′s indy
    >race?  I don’t think it ever ran at indy, but since he had a few spare

    Remember it well!!  Andy Granatelli (sp?) was the car-owner, Foyt drove them
    (yes ‘them’) for the couple years they ran at Indy.  Btw, Granatelli was a
    honcho with ‘STP’ at the time, too.

    Walt K.

  6. admin says:

    In article <8…@dog.ee.lbl.gov> jtc…@csa2.lbl.gov writes:
    >Several car companies at least thought about gas turbines in the late
    >Fifties and early Sixties.  Chrysler, which had an advanced skunkworks
    >project in this area, went so far as to build a few hundred streetworthy
    >turbine-powered sedans to sort of test the waters.  They were called
    >something clever like the Chrysler Turbine Car and resembled a cross
    >between a Plymouth Satellite and a T-bird.  There was an article
    >on them in Car & Driver a year or so back.

    There was even one of those 1950s or early 60s movies about a such a car
    in a road race, completely finctional. Don’t remember any other details though.

    >I believe–gotta look it up–that a turbine-powered race car made a credible
    >attempt to win at Indy in ’64 or ’65 or some such in the hands of a former
    >F1 driver until something broke (not the turbine).  The reasons for aban-
    >donment of turbines for race cars escape me at the moment.

    From memory, the cars were Lotuses (Lotii?) At least Lotus experimented
    with turbine propulsion sometime back then.

    The story as I heard it was that Graham Hill was driving one car and some
    American driver was driving the other (Jerry Titus springs to mind, but I
    don’t think that’s right). The powerplants that they were using had two drives
    from the turbines, either a full steel drive, or a fail-safe one with some
    softer material (compressed bread?) to allow it to break in the event of an
    accident.

    During practise, the General Electric guys there told the other car to run
    the fail-safe turbine shaft, where Colin Chapman decided to run the full
    steel shaft. In the race, Graham Hill had some problem (accident maybe, or
    suspension) and the other driver was leading comfortably, until a yellow
    flag sometime near the end, when upon lifting the yellow, he put his foot
    down again from idle and broke the fail-safe shaft.

    Anyway, he got so close that the USAC changed the rules from allowing
    turbines with 15 sq in. of annulus area, to 7.5 sq in., effectively ruling
    out turbines.

    Again, this is from memory, but I do have it written down somewhere,
    if someonw wants a reference.

    >–Joe


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  7. admin says:

    The following is an Anthony Pritchard’s version of Lotus’ involvement with
    gas-turbine cars.  It is taken from his book "Lotus: All The Cars" and    
    is reprinted without permission:

    The gas turbine four-wheel-drive Lotus 56 was sponsored by Andy Granatelli
    through his STP company and was the result of a gradual buildup of enthusiasm
    for gas turbine cars and four-wheel-drive.  From 1964-67 the P104 Novi four-
    wheel-drive car built by Ferguson had run at Indianapolis without success, but
    with considerable promise, especially so far as lack of wheel spin was
    concerned, and in 1967 the Paxton Turbocar driven by Parnelli Jones had led at
    Indianapolis until eliminated by gearbox problems of a minor nature shortly
    before the finish.

    Granatelli had a two-year exclusive agreement with United Aircraft of Canada
    for the use of their Pratt & Whitney industrial gas turbine engines.  Because
    USAC had introduced a limit of 15.999 sq in inlet annulus for Indianapolis
    cars, United Aircraft modified their engine by the removal of two of the
    three original axial compressor stages preceding the main centrifugal
    compressor.  Although the cars would face stiff opposition from the many
    2.8-litre turbocharged cars at Indianapolis, Chapman was convinced that the
    56, despite a power deficiency, would be a potential winner because of its
    speed through the corners.

    [Details of the Lotus 56 chassis deleted.]

    Four of the Lotus 56s were built, two to be entered as Team Lotus-STP entries
    and a third to be driven by an American driver for Granatelli’s team.  After
    the death of Jim Clark, and Jackie Stewart had injured his wrist in a
    Formula 2 race, Mike Spence drove alongside Graham Hill, whilst the STP entry
    was driven by Greg Weld.

    Sadly Mike Spense was killed during qualifying at the wheel of Greg Weld’s car,
    when he went off-line, hit the wall broadside on, a front wheel was torn off
    and struck his head.  Following the death of Jim Clark in April, the tragedy
    was almost too much for Lotus – and Chapman – to take.  Weld withdrew from the
    race; Jo Leonard, Art Pollard and Graham Hill drove the cars in the race.

    Leonard took pole position at 171.559 mph, whilst Hill was second fastest at
    171.208 mph.  At the start Leonard led briefly, but Hill was an early
    retirement when the front suspension failed and he hit the wall.  After
    running second for much of the race, Leonard took the lead again, and was
    all set for victory with nine laps to run when the turbine died and the car
    coasted to a halt.  Pollard’s 56 also was eliminated by turbine failure.  The
    cause in both cases was failure of the fuel pump drives; those incorporated
    phosphor bronze shafts which the manufacturers had insisted upon the cars
    being fitted with in place of the steel shafts which Lotus preferred.  Hill’s
    car had run, however, with a steel shaft in the fuel pump drive.

    Granatelli ran the 56s in a number of other races during the 1968 season, but
    the future of turbine engines at Indianapolis was damned when USAC further
    limited turbines by the introduction of an inlet annulus area of 11.99 sq in
    for 1969.  In addition it was also stated that from 1970 both four-wheel-drive
    and gas turbines would be illegal unless those items had been made solely for
    automobile use.

    alan perry


    alan perry a.k.a. al…@esprit.cts.com

  8. admin says:

    In article <3…@nosc.NOSC.MIL> kozi…@halibut.nosc.mil (Walter A. Koziarz) writes:

    >In article <4…@ulticorp.UUCP> fr…@ulticorp.UUCP (Frank Cannavale III) writes:
    >>Didn’t Foyt put a turbine engine into a car for an early 60′s indy
    >>race?  I don’t think it ever ran at indy, but since he had a few spare

    >Remember it well!!  Andy Granatelli (sp?) was the car-owner, Foyt drove them
    >(yes ‘them’) for the couple years they ran at Indy.  Btw, Granatelli was a
    >honcho with ‘STP’ at the time, too.

    >Walt K.

    Gee, I’m pretty sure A.J. never set foot in one of Andy’s STP turbines. I seem
    to recall that Joe Leonard (I think), and maybe even Mario were driving for
    him at the time. Foyt was campaigning his "Coyote" and may have even been the
    distributor for the Ford V-8 at the time (it may have even been sold with "FOYT"
    valve covers for a while).

    At any rate, the turbines were gone after (I think) the ’68 race. Since the
    rules makers were having a tough time figuring out how to "fairly" limit the
    output of the turbines (how DO you compute the "displacement" of a turbine???)
    they gave up and "unfairly" limited its input by restricting the size of its
    intake duct. Since nobody could figure out how to stuff the proverbial "ten
    pounds of s**t" thru a five-pound hole, they gave up on the idea. It was
    pretty exciting while it lasted, tho.

    As usual, my recollections may be tainted by many years spent inhaling the
    Bad Stuff that spews from my collection of junkyard dogs. Who was it that
    said "If you remember the ’60s, you weren’t there…"? I guess that goes
    for us gearheads, too. If anyone REALLY knows about the turbine cars, please
    feel free to set the rest of us straight (without flames).

    Gotta go rebuild another Q-jet,
    Craig Donath

  9. admin says:

    In article <1…@neptune.UUCP> cr…@neptune.UUCP (Craig Donath) writes:

    >Gee, I’m pretty sure A.J. never set foot in one of Andy’s STP turbines. I seem
    >to recall that Joe Leonard (I think), and maybe even Mario were driving for
    >him at the time. Foyt was campaigning his "Coyote" and may have even been the

    Yup, I erred!  I remembered the car, its promising showing and dissapointing
    failure/demise.  The ‘nifty-ness’ of the turbine (for me) overshadowed the
    identity of its driver(s); but at least I got its sponsor….

    Sorry about the miss-information!!!  Question — was I totally off, or *did*
    Granatelli, at some point in time, sponsor A.J.???

    Walt K.

    ps — what the heck, here in rec.autos.tech, the car *is* more important than
    the driver :-), rec.autos.sport would be another matter entirely :-)

  10. admin says:

    say guys the last time Isaw the indy car that Joe leonard drove to victory
    at indy  it was in Harrahs museum . it was alotus I believe 4wd and
    daglo orange. Usac banned turbines stating that they were too expensive.
    More like too quiet, too fast. Oh by the way Leonard still lives in
    San jose, at least the last time I talked to some of his friends he did.

  11. admin says:

    >>Didn’t Foyt put a turbine engine into a car for an early 60′s indy
    >>race?
    >Gee, I’m pretty sure A.J. never set foot in one of Andy’s STP turbines. I seem
    >to recall that Joe Leonard (I think), and maybe even Mario were driving for
    >him at the time.

    A.J. Foyt was the one who won the 1967 Indy 500.  Parnelli Jones was
    the one who drove the "STP Turbo Car" in that race.

    A.J. Foyt realized early in the race that he couldn’t compete with the
    Turbo Car, so he wisely drove within his car’s limits and prayed hard
    that the Turbo Car would break down somehow. A good number of cars did
    break down trying to keep up with the Turbo Car.  With luck, the Turbo
    Car did break down, 3 laps from the finish line, and A.J. went on to
    win.

    Joe Leonard, Graham Hill, and Art Pollard drove the three STP turbo
    cars in the 1968 Indy 500 race.  STP’s strategy was for one STP turbo
    car to tail the leading "piston" car; the second STP turbo car to tail
    the second "piston" car, etc., until near the end when all STP turbo
    cars would take over the lead.  However, during the race one lost a
    wheel and was damaged. Near the end of the race, about 20 laps, I think,
    the other two turbo cars took over the lead.  Then, there was a yellow
    flag and all cars slowed down. When the green flag was put up again,
    the remaining two STP turbo cars broke down at the same time, with just.
    about 10 laps to go. Apparently, both drivers stepped down on the accelerator
    pedals too hard and the torque of the gas turbine engines snapped the
    fuel pump shafts.

    Mario Andretta won the 1969 Indy 500 race in a STP car (not turbo car)
    with a lot of luck and breaks.  The red STP car (#2) is now on display
    in the lower level at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History in
    Washington, D.C.

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