Even by today’s standards, the 1966 Chevy Turbo Titan III looks formidable. It was full of futuristic innovations of the day. Coupled to a 40-foot, stainless steel trailer, the Turbo Titan III was a gas turbine-powered semi that made it all the way to a rolling prototype before the project was scrapped. Turbine power was all the rage back in the 1950s and 1960s with several vehicles built by the Big Three (among others) being tested all over the country. None of them made it to production as turbine power proved to be not as well suited to land-going vehicles.
[Editor’s note: we are kicking off a new “Truck Rewind” series of articles. Let us know what you think in the comments below.]
Powered by a 280 horsepower GT-309 turbine power plant, maximum torque of 875-lbs could only be achieved at idle. An Allison 6-speed automatic transmission was connected to the power turbine gear which was connected to the turbine’s output shaft. The Gross Combined Weight (GCW) was 76,800 lbs.
The 1966 Chevrolet Turbo Titan III’s main shaft spun at 35,000 rpm and had to be gear-reduced to a more manageable 4,000 rpm.
There were many innovations aside from the turbine. The massive front intakes also housed sideways-opening popup/popout headlights. While Chevrolet used a current-day semi platform, the exterior was covered in fiberglass and many functions, like the tilting cab (for turbine access), were electrically powered. The interior had NASA-like seats and the steering system consisted of two small wheels that was connected to the power steering.
All in all, the rolling testbeds proved that General Motors was just as curious as the competition regarding turbine’s potential. A curiosity that never made it to production. Still, it’s gratifying to see Chevrolet’s creative side flourish focusing on a truck.
Chevrolet invited TFLtruck out to Las Vegas to drive their new Tahoe Custom, a new entry-level model. We not only towed the new 2018 Polaris RZR XP 1000 Turbo DYNAMIX, we got to drive the RZRs too!