The Earl C. Lindburg Automobile Center is open during normal operating hours. It houses the automobile collection of the Museum of Transportation. Here are some of the rare and classic autos and trucks on display.
The road vehicle collection of over 200 items includes a 1901 automobile built by the St. Louis Motor Carriage Co. (oldest of only nine such cars known to still be in existence), as well as the only operational Chrysler turbine car on public display.
Some of the highlights
1901 St. Louis Motor Carriage Co. Automobile
Produced by the St. Louis Motor Carriage Co., it originally cost $1,200 and is the oldest of nine of this make known to exist today. It is powered by a one-cylinder, 7-hp engine; employed the first float carburetor; is equipped with a tilting steering wheel; and has a chain drive to the rear axle.
Bobby Darin “Dream Car”
The Bobby Darin “Dream Car” is a one-of-a-kind custom car designed by Detroit clothing designer Andy Di Dia in 1953 and completed in 1960.
The Chrysler Turbine Car
The Chrysler turbine car is one of only 55 produced by Chrysler in 1963. This is the only operational turbine car on public display.
In 1952, Ford Motor Co. began a test program to explore the use of gas turbine engines for automobiles and trucks. It initially tested a 150-horsepower regenerative turbine engine in a 1954 car, but the results were lackluster. Ford’s emphasis then shifted to trucks, and an improved version of the engine was tested in a tilt-cab truck tractor in 1956. In 1957-58, a 300-horsepower, 704-cubic-inch-displacement engine was developed, and this 1959 tilt-cab CT-1100 truck tractor was the first vehicle used to test it. The results impressed the Department of Defense enough to contract with Ford for a 600-horsepower engine which was used in 1964 in a truck tractor that made cross-country trips at costs comparable to those of diesel engines. A small fleet of improved turbine-powered trucks was then used to collect operational experience and data operating between Ford plants in Michigan and Ohio, and one engine was installed in a Continental Trailways bus. The main advantages of the turbine engine were low noise, emissions, oil consumption, and vibration; easy cold-weather starting; extended overhaul life; high torque at low speeds; and instantaneous full-power capability. But high fuel consumption at idle and costly manufacturing materials needed because of their high operating speeds and temperatures prevented successful turbine use in cars or trucks, and Ford gave up development in 1973. This truck tractor was donated by Ford in 1971.