Rare, futuristic ‘jet-age’ classic car now on display on the National Mall

A 1963 Chrysler Turbine Car is on the National Mall as part of the Cars at the Capitol display. (WTOP/John Aaron)
The car is on display between the National Air and Space Museum and the National Gallery of Art through Sunday. (WTOP/John Aaron)
The 1963 Chrysler Turbine Car is a rare sight to be seen. (WTOP/John Aaron)
This 1963 Chrysler Turbine Car can be seen on the National Mall through Sunday. (WTOP/John Aaron)

Cars at the Capital is back on the National Mall, and this time it features a futuristic, ultrarare and ultra-valuable piece of the 1960s.

A 1963 Chrysler Turbine Car is on display in D.C. between the National Air and Space Museum and the National Gallery of Art through Sunday.

The bronze-colored two-door has a revolutionary power plant, for a car.

“This was jet propulsion; it was looking for alternative fuels,” said Diane Parker, vice president of the Hagerty Drivers Foundation, which is behind the display.

The aviation-style turbine engine runs on anything from kerosene to tequila, she said.

Fifty of the cars were given to consumers to test out. And the one on the Mall is only one of three running examples that remain. A good guess at its value would be in seven-figure territory. It currently belongs to the Stahls Automotive Collection in Michigan.

“It’s gorgeous,” said Kimberly Crosby-Scott of D.C., who stopped to take a look. “Beautiful!”

“I was riding to work and it caught my attention from a distance,” said Mike Orrick of Annandale, Virginia. “It’s kind of cool the way they have it … juxtaposed with the Capitol in the background.”

The Chrysler replaced the “Fabulous Hudson Hornet” race car from 1952 at the Cars at the Capital display. That car was the inspiration for a character in the animated “Cars” movies.

“And we found that kids, as they walked up to the car, were yelling out ‘It’s Doc Hudson!’,” Parker said.

Both the Chrysler and the Hudson are part of the National Historic Vehicle Register, which documents culturally and historically significant vehicles and archives those details in the Library of Congress.

The Hudson was the 31st car put on the register and the Chrysler was the 32nd.

John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP.

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