Your screen name makes me think of a friends Corvette, maybe you
already know about it. It's a 1978 coupe with a Pratt & Whitney ST6-27
turbine producing 880 shaft HP. Built by Andy and Vince Granatelli
using one of the turbines from the Indy racing effort of the late
60's. It was last run at Pratt & Whitney in Montreal at their 70
anniversary celebration. He's still picking remnants of ZR1's out of
the intake the last I heard.
Go get your November 1979 issue of Motor Trend to read the full story.
It was also featured in the winter 1999 issue of Blue Bars.
Really didn't expect anyone to remember the Jet Vette as Cliff bought
it in the mid 80's soon after they put it together. It has been pretty
much stored every since then. Only twice that I know of has it been
fired up since then and once was at our club's autocross in the late
80's. Very common looking except for the longer hood, no headlight
doors, and the tires and rims that were built to take the speed and
not blow apart.
It is a big novelty and could someday bring a premium price. If I get
the ambition to do so I'll scan the article and post it.
Filler up with Jet-A -
Dad, after reading your first post in this string, I Googled, I asked
Jeeves, I Web Crawled, I Hot Bot'd, I Looked Smart, I Lycos'd and I
Yahoo'd, but I couldn't find a single picture of the Granatelli Vette.
Have I missed any search engines? *LOL* But I did find a recurring
reference to the Vette, which reads as follows:
"Vince Granatelli, Andy's son, built a turbine-powered Corvette in
1979. The engine for this conversion was originally designed to power
an oil-field generator. It developed 880 bhp and delivered 1,160
lb./ft. of torque. Rpm was so high that at idle the Corvette was
running 60 mph, and the only way it could be slowed in city traffic was
with the brakes. Needless to say, performance was a little hairy".
There is also reference, in what appears to be the original article, to
an earlier Granatelli-built turbine racer, driven by Parnelli Jones,
which apparently came within two laps of winning the 1967 Indy 500! The
"Mopar" page seems to provide a bit of a history on some of the
automotive turbines. You might find the site interesting, so I'll post
a link. Both articles are about a third of the way down the page.
Here's the link:
There was a long caution near the end of the race and they run slow to
long. Rules dictated the fuel they had to use. At the slow speed the
fuel washed bearings lost their lubricant and disintegrated when power
was re-applied. They had it in the bag until then, it was a ghostly
sound and fast, plus untouchable.
At that time in my life I was driving allot of miles and applied to
Chrysler to drive one of their test turbines. The failure at Indy plus
new government regulations hit their program hard and the test drivers
never received their cars after the first 50. I wasn't chosen so I
never did get to drive one. One of the cars looked allot like a cross
between a '60 Thunderbird and a '50 Studebaker.
I did attach a picture of the Jet Vette in this album.
Life is a sexually transmitted condition that is always fatal.
Dad, thanks for some great history! I wondered what happened with the
Indy car and now I know. I've seen pics of the one that you refer to as
a "cross between a '60 Thunderbird and a '50 Studebaker." *LOL* That
was a great description because I knew immediately which one you meant!
By the way, contrary to what you say in your next post, your first link
works fine for me.
The Granatelli / STP turbine Indy car is a fond legend in my generation.
It had a gas turbine engine mounted amidships alongside the driver - an
asymmetrical car - with 4WD, new aerodynamics, very wide future-profile
tires, and lots of other innovations. It absolutely ran away from the
entire field for the entire race, a complete shutout both on the
straights and in the corners, then fractured some minor bearing one or
two laps from finishing and DNF'd. It set a record qualifying and then
on race day it cruised the Indy oval at the same speeds it had qualified
at, and if I recall on race day it was around 8 mph faster (lap average)
than anything else on the track.
Other drivers had a lot of unkind words for it. I think it was Parnelli
Jones who complained 'that thang ain't even a car. It's a goddam airplane.'
It was so successful that for the next year the league put very
restrictive rules on turbine powerplants. There were two turbo racers in
the next Indy race but they were barely competitive because of the
unrealistic restrictions on engine configuration.
That sounds like one crazy ride! I'm not sure that I'd want to be
sitting beside a bomb! *lol* Unlike a piston engine, I'm not sure that
a jet engine would be somewhat safe in a crash situation. The things
man has done to go faster than the next guy! Thanks for some
fascinating history V.
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