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The Fascinating True Story Behind Ford's Turbine-Powered Thunderbird

The Fascinating True Story Behind Ford's Turbine-Powered Thunderbird

The Nineteen Fifties marked the start of the gap race, and the complete global changed into interested in rockets, jet engines, UFOs, and the entirety that needed to do with the large unknown. Before the Soviet Union released Sputnik, the global`s first synthetic satellite tv for pc to go into Earth's orbit (an occasion that officially kick-began out the gap race), automakers had discovered methods to make turbine engines in shape the confines of a roadgoing automobile.

According to Goodwood, British automaker Rover changed into the primary automobile agency to create a fueloline turbine-powered automobile, the P4-primarily based totally JET1 speedster prototype, withinside the wintry weather of 1949. The idea went directly to race on the Le Mans 24 Hours among 1963 to 1965 as a non-competing invited entry. On the opposite aspect of the pond, Chrysler made headlines in 1962 with its majestic, Ghia-designed Turbine Car. Believe it or now no longer, 50 gadgets of the Turbine Ghia made it to American households for real-global checking out. It is now the "maximum collectible American automobile," in line with Jay Leno thru Carnewscafe.

But earlier than that, Ford got here up with some thing surprising for its then-newly-released Thunderbird sports activities automobile. It by no means made it to production, however it showcased what "American muscle" without a doubt supposed earlier than the appearance of Detroit muscle cars.

Ford Turbine Thunderbird: An test long gone right

American vehiclemobile pioneer Ford debuted the Thunderbird on February 20, 1954, at Detroit's first submit-strugglefare vehiclemobile show. But in December 1955, Ford engineers have been experimenting with shoehorning a Boeing T50 turboshaft engine beneathneath the Thunderbird's hood. Ford archivist Ted Ryan shared a Twitter submit of the Thunderbird Turbine idea ultimate March 31, 2022, and he changed into type sufficient to consist of the real checking out notes of the task.

According to the archives, Ford constructed the Turbine Thunderbird "to attain a usable and dependable fueloline turbine automobile for appraising" whilst reading the "unique blessings and issues related to this sort of powerplant." The engine in query is a Boeing 502-8C Series that pumped out one hundred seventy five horsepower and tipped the scales at approximately 330 pounds (a hundred and fifty kgs), stated Macs Motor City Garage.

To assist lessen costs, Ford routed huge exhaust pipes via the the front fenders, growing an aggressive, muscle automobile vibe. It additionally got here with a completely unique raised hood with scoops and louvers on the rear. Other neat layout cues consist of relocated parking lights, bespoke aspect air intakes flanking the the front grille, and aircraft-stimulated air scoops in the back of the rear fenders.

The appropriate and the bad

The concept of a turbine-powered Thunderbird appears appropriate on paper, and it is secure to mention that Ford additionally nailed the layout aspect. But in line with Ford's report, the idea's overall performance changed into a blended bag. There changed into "extreme acceleration lag in start-up" regardless of offering "appropriate medium velocity overall performance." The tremendous factors consist of a extraordinary electricity-to-weight ratio, no vibrations, and negligible habitual renovation considering jet engines have fewer shifting parts.

The downsides? Ford mentioned "the undesirability of the the front exhaust," which we reckon pumped ear-busting decibels of noise withinside the cabin, now no longer to neglect about the warmth emanating from an aggressive, effective fueloline-fed jet engine used to electricity navy tanks and antisubmarine drone helicopters. Furthermore, the task value Ford $188,000, a large amount of cash in 1955. The Thunderbird Turbine by no means made it to production (in contrast to the limited-collection Chrysler Turbine Ghia), however the wellknown Thunderbird lasted ten generations earlier than exiting the marketplace in 1997. Ford revived the Thunderbird call in 2002 with the eleventh-era variant, however it changed into canceled 3 years later in 2005 because of lagging income numbers.

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