Showing posts with label Chrysler Cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chrysler Cars. Show all posts

Goldenrod

Goldenrod classic land speed record car

It was in 1965 that Bob Summers drove Goldenrod to a new world land speed record of 409mph. The backdrop was the Bonneville Salt Flats - Utah's Mecca of straight-line speed. What set Goldenrod apart from many of its rivals was its relative orthodoxy. It was, quintessentially, a car ... albeit, one which pushed the automotive envelope. Whereas some of its contemporaries were borderline, at best, Goldenrod proudly declared its roadster credentials.

Key to that claim was its engine. To wit, a 6.9-litre Chrysler V8. Well, actually, four 6.9-litre Chrysler V8s! Two of them turned the front wheels - the other two, the rear. Their combined output was 2,400bhp. And they were not even supercharged. Now, that is efficient engineering! Saying that, they were fuel-injected.

But, Goldenrod was about more than pure power! Aerodynamics were just as important. The car was assembled in Ontario, California - by driver Summers, and his brother Bill. Sensibly, Bob built a mock-up, beforehand. It was this scaled-down model that first caught Chrysler's eye. Summers was sure that his dream could be realised. And - after studying the mock-up - Chrysler agreed. The green light was given - and Goldenrod began to take shape. Its length alone - all 10 missile-like metres of it - buoyed Chrysler with confidence. Summers explained that Goldenrod's weight was to its advantage. It would force its aluminium wheels - shod, as they were, in Firestone tyres - solidly into the salt, he said. He was proved right. Goldenrod duly snatched back the land speed record from Brit Donald Campbell. It was almost 40 years since the USA had made the fastest four-wheeler on Earth. Goldenrod had been shot down from hot rod heaven - expressly for the purpose. A shining example of America's need for speed!

Chrysler Airflow

Chrysler Airflow 1930s American classic car

The Chrysler Airflow was where Art met Science! Its body lines were aerodynamic - at a time when that craft was a mere glint in a boffin's eye. Indeed, the Airflow was the first production car to feature the fledgeling craft. A wind tunnel was duly constructed. Today, such systems are considered arcane ... in the early '30s, they were a black art! The Airflow wizards of engineering were Carl Breer, Fred Zeder and Owen Skelton. Breer had been first to be smitten by the new-fangled science. Zeder and Skelton soon followed suit. And it did no harm at all when pioneer pilot Orville Wright's input was added. Over 50 test cars were subsequently built. So - by a process of painstaking refinement - the Chrysler Airflow gradually took shape.

The Airflow, though, was not just aerodynamics. Weight-saving, too, was part of its brief. Its svelte frame was made from light metal - rather than heavy timber. Perched on that frame was a monocoque body. That reduced weight still further. What mass was left was optimally placed. The engine was over the front wheels - with ride and handling in mind. The seats sat neatly within the wheelbase - in the interests of balance. Thanks to all the wind-cheating work, the Airflow was well-placed to 'turn up the wick', when required. A top speed of 88mph was not to be sniffed at, in '34.

The Airflow's sales, though, were lacklustre. Walter Chrysler showed courage and commitment, in commissioning the car. But, the Airflow was the future. Buyers were not yet ready for its 'free-flowing' lines. On top of that, there were rumours of build quality faults ... on account of new welding techniques. Ultimately, though, cars like the Airflow are not about sales. Rather, they are about the legacy they leave - and the visions they engender. The Chrysler Airflow influenced automotive design for decades!