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J.M. Sturm (VP/Product Planning Plymouth Div.Chrysler Corp). - my dad - my mom - me

Well, this is going to be brief. It is not the whole story; I am saving that for a book - someday.

It was a dark and stormy night! No it was just a dark and cold night! I was all-alone in the house. My parents both worked nights. I was sixteen years old and a Junior in High School so it was no big thing that I was alone. The phone rang. Should I answer it? Yeah, it might be my mom, so I did. It was some guy asking for my dad first then my mom. After I told him they would not be home till after 10:00 pm, he told me to just tell them the Mr. Brown from Chrysler Corporation would like to come out to our house in the morning and to call him if 9:00 would not work for them and arrange another time - he said it had to be tomorrow.

Rewind! Rewind! Wait! Hold on! That is when I asked him, is this about the turbine car???

Mr. Brown said yes and just left it at that.

The next day we found out that we would get the car with one stipulation - we could not "spill the beans" to anyone or it would not be our car. You mean we have to keep this quiet for almost three months??? Yike!

Three months drags by . . .

Fast forward - May 13, 1965. My dad drove the car last night and now we are waiting in the basement of one of the better motels in the Duluth area for Mr. John M. Sturm to finish talking.

Click here to read his remarks.

After a long, long time, we finally had the car and left the press and TV people in the dust.

You never think about how someone who is famous lives their lives - that is till you become famous - sort of. We had something everyone wondered about. What was it? How much does it cost? What fuel does it burn? How did you get it? Can you start it up? So the questions came in barrels full! It was a blast! I loved it! My dad loved it too! He let many, many people drive that fantastic car. I don't know how other families handled the fame and attention but I know for the three months - we liked it. Well there were a few time like when the doorbell rang during dinner and a bus of band kids were standing there asking if they could hear the car run. That was just one of many times we thought about not being famous.

My older brother (we were both like only children, because he is nine years older than me) lived with his wife in the Twin Cites. That would be about 160 miles and two hours South of where we lived. Let me tell you, we drove that stretch of road many times that summer. We would get up early in the morning on Saturday and drive down, stay overnight and drive up to Mora Minnesota where my brother was "practice preaching" at a small church. He was in seminary and almost a pastor. Then after lunch, we would head back down to Minneapolis. Later in the day we would go back to Duluth. We did that at least twice a month.

We took trips just about every evening in the summer. Remember we had the car from May to August, I would have thought that Chrysler would have given it to us in the dead of winter. I am glad they did give it to us that summer.

We visited relatives I did not know we had. We also took a long trip to Butte Montana. My mom and dad lived there on a ranch when they were first married. We were in the local paper when we visited my parents old friend.

We only had three minor problems while we had the car. First the speedometer quit working about two weeks after we got the car. They scheduled a day for my dad to bring the car in and the coordinator from Chicago would come up - the car had about 25,000 miles on it and they told us when we got it that it needed brakes and new tires. They also replaced the driver's arm rest pad that was scratched.

The second problem - I was driving and hit a bad chuckhole. The stoplight in the little town of Mora was when I found out the brakes were broke! I pumped them a bunch and got stopped. We got a mechanic out of church to come down and repair them. When I hit the hole, it knocked the adjuster wheel out of place and caused the driver's side front brake to not work.

The last problem we had - I was driving again - and it just quit! Driving along in Nebraska and all of a sudden - no power - the tachometer drops and we are dead. That took a tow truck and overnight wait for the Kansas coordinator to come up. Al Bradshaw was the guy in the know in Kansas City. He flew up late that night and had the car ready for us in the morning. Turns out that it was a broken wire on the fuel control relay. Kind of like turning the key off and not being able to turn it on. First time that Al had seen that problem.

Above is a very poor photo of Al Bradshaw taking my father for a test ride.

We made quite a commotion in that little town for the early Saturday morning crowd. A little quirk started after Al tuned the car. It would "pop" when lighting off. Kind of a small poof-boom and a cloud of white smoke. This prompted an elderly lady to dance a little jig and say "I want one of those cars!"

I have visited Al Bradshaw, he now lives only about 150 miles from me. He has shared a lot of stories and I hope to get more some day soon. He lived on the edge of chaos while he was doing double duty as a training instructor at the Kansas City Tech center and troubleshooting turbine cars. His basement was full of spare turbine parts when a tornado took his house and all that was in it and scattered it across the state. Someone probably wondered what some of that stuff was when they found it in the next county or wherever.

August came all too soon! We had to pick the guy who was going to take the car back to Chicago for prep up at the local airport. We were a small town - small airport as you can see below -that was a quarter of the parking lot then.

Why is he smiling? He is taking our car!!! He was nice enough but still he was taking our car away! It was later in the afternoon of August 13, 1965 when Ron LaPort got into car #991232 and drove off.

As he backs up and drives off across the parking lot - I am very sad.

The above was the next to last photo I took of our car.

This is the last photo I have of car #991232 as Ron LaPort drives past our house on the way South.

That was the last time I ever saw our turbine car - well maybe it is one of those being crushed in the video I have but I don't want to know for sure. I do know it was not saved. It still seems such a waste to have destroyed 46 works of art like the Ghia/Chrysler turbine cars.

My dad was disappointed when the turbine car never came out. We did buy a new Dodge Polara that fall. Too bad, we traded the 1958 Desoto we had for it - should never have done that. That Desoto was the best car we ever owned.

We only got something like $200 for it and I should have made my dad keep it. I hope it has survived and in some collection somewhere but that would be hard to prove.

So, I have spent most of my adult life waiting for Chrysler or some car company to give the public a turbine. I guess if we ever do see another turbine powered automobile, it will probably be driving a generator to charge the batteries in the car.

That is the Tale of the Olson's Turbine.

One last thing, my mom was a poet - so here is the poem she wrote - call it an ode to a turbine car if you wish.

Turbine Tune Up
By Beulah E. Olson, © 1965

No pistons or rods - -
No crankshaft or anti-freeze - -
No major repair jobs - -
Yes, the turbine's a breeze.

For heat that is instant,
For smoothness of ride,
For places far distant,
We'll turbine-wise glide.

With Chrysler as leader - -
The auto's revised.
For engines much speedier
And smoother devised.

For people with get up
And engines to match,
Dear Chrysler, don't let up,
More turbines please hatch.

It may not be the greatest poem in the world but my mom really got into the car. She was almost as excited as my father and I. She did not have a driver's license but she tried to get one while we had the car. She never did succeed - one thing she could not do. She could do so many things but was too paranoid about every other driver on the road to be able to drive.

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Last updated 2-23-2011