Mair Ahmad Ahmad itibaren Texas
My favorite of her short story collections
For at least a couple of decades, from the 1950s to the 1970s, the Chrysler corporation did considerable research and development into making a jet engine a viable form of automobile engine. Unlike the jet engine on a jet plane, the cars did not move forward due to the thrust of air out the back of the engine; instead the engine turned a drive shaft attached to the wheels as in an ordinary car. The aspect of the turbine car that would interest readers in 2011 is that the engine could burn just about any liquid, carbon based fuel: unleaded gasoline, diesel, kerosene, peanut oil, alcohol, etc. The high point of the program was about 1964-1966, when Chrysler lent about 45 turbine engined cars (with excellent, 2 door bodies hand built by the Karman Ghia design studio in Italy) to about 200 American households (each household had the use of the vehicle for a few months before it was lent to another household) to find out what problems average drivers would encounter. Ironically, one of the few problems encountered was that leaded gasoline, the most available fuel at the time, was the one (due to the lead compound added to prevent knocking) that didn't agree with the turbine, so users had to show some initiative in finding an alternative fuel source. Though Chrsyler developed more advanced engines and put some of them in cars for testing within the company later on, none of these made it to the public. Chrysler blamed the lack of commercialization as a result of the Clean Air Act of 1970, which both directly caused problems directly for the turbine engine due to the difficulty in reducing one class of emissions, nitrous oxides, more abundantly than piston engines, and indirectly due to the need to reallocate research and development personnel and budgets towards emission reductions. I think that the chronology shows this complaint to be exaggerated, as it seems to me that the turbine program had already peaked by 1966 with the end of the Karman Ghia customer testing program; Chryler did do any turbine development at the same scale in the four years before the Clean Air Act was passed. I do, however, think the point about needing to have its engineers spend time on reducing emissions from 1970 onwards is a valid one, especially for a smaller car company with shaky finances at the time. The reason I only rated this book as "ok" is that I found the repeated descriptions of the experiences of the ordinary people who drove the Karman Ghia turbine cars tedious. The experiences were not generally out of the ordinary for any car user and seemed repetitious to me. Ironically, I think the lack of excitement is a tribute to Chrysler's work, as using the turbine car was only slightly different from using an ordinary car. I agree with Jay Leno, an owner of one of the roughly 9 Karman Ghia turbines still existing (Chrysler destroyed the others) that probably one of the problems with the turbine was that to a user in the mid-1960s, when gasoline was cheap, there was no obvious advantage to a turbine engine. Given the considerable expense of setting up an engine production line, in which crucial parts essentially had to be cast to extremely high tolerances one at a time, and given that the customer wouldn't have any incentive to buy a more expensive product, it seems understandable that turbine cars didn't go into mass production. I was impressed that Chrysler, a firm I don't think of as an innovator, would put so much effort into the program, and I could wish that turbine engines were available now.