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Blades of glory

7 months ago

Writer:

Dan Prosser | Ti co-founder

Date:

25 February 2022

‘March 25th, 1954 – an important date in the automobile industry,’ proclaims the booming voiceover. We watch as a great lump of metal, something that looks as though it belongs deep in the sooty bowels of a hulking cargo ship, is lowered into the engine bay of a Plymouth Belvedere. Two men in long white coats steadily manoeuvre the lump into position while several others dressed in dark suits watch on.

On booms the narrator: ‘Chrysler Corporation announced the development and successful road testing of the first American-built gas turbine engine in a production line automobile. Tomorrow is today!’

Those men in coats and suits must have thought they were operating decades into the future, as though they were nudging the passenger car down an entirely new path like Carl Benz or Henry Ford before them. By 1954 the Jet Age of aviation was well underway. The German Messerschmitt Me 262 and Britain’s Gloster Meteor had both flown for the first time a decade earlier, showing that the way forward for combat aircraft was turbine not piston-power, while the de Havilland Comet made the world’s first jet-powered commercial flight two years previously, flying higher, faster and further than had been possible before.

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