video post1977 Chrysler LeBaron Turbine Test Car

Video: 1977 Chrysler LeBaron Turbine test car

Certainly not an edge-of-the-seat video but something I’d not seen before.

Click below to start the video.


Somehow I’d never before seen this test car from Chrysler. It is powered by what was considered the seventh-generation of their turbine test engines, and was reportedly smaller and lighter than its predecessors.

Chrysler’s rekindled experimentation was aided by a grant from the United States Department of Energy, the agency for whom the vehicle was built.

1977 Chrysler LeBaron Turbine test car

Despite its amazing powerplant, as usual, I am more interested in its looks and I’ve got to say that I really like it. Chrysler said it was based on a standard LeBaron.

1977 Chrysler LeBaron Turbine test car

Ford’s Edsel couldn’t pull off a grille this narrow but I think Chrysler’s application works perfectly here, particularly with its sharp nose. Very modern. You could almost say this tight, crisp theme beat Cadillac’s 1979 Eldorado to the punch.

When the headlights were exposed, things looked even sharper.

1977 Chrysler LeBaron Turbine test car

At the rear, the car is a little more standard. One thing that helps visually separate it from its 1970s heritage are the smoothly integrated bumpers at the front and rear. Notice that removable roof panels (e.g., t-tops) were also a part of the look. I read that the exhaust-type vents, on the rocker panels behind the doors, were non-functional.

1977 Chrysler LeBaron Turbine test car

Kudos to Chrysler for their historical efforts with turbine engines and ability to produce a solid design when they want to. I’m not sure how this one slipped by me all these years.