- Written by webmin
Another Monday, another batch of very cool old press photos from David Greenlees. Where last week’s photos followed a streamlining theme, this week’s photos depict very early alternative-fuel concept vehicles from GM. First, above, a photo from May 7, 1969, depicting a bunch of techs installing a four-cylinder engine into a 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix. Yes, four-cylinder. The caption on the back elaborates:
General Motors researchers install the combustion system-steam generator in the first modern steam car developed by the automobile industry. The experimental vehicle – called the GM SE-101 – is a modified 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix. Already mounted in the engine compartment is the 160 horsepower, 4-cylinder expander. The SE-101 is one of two steam-powered vehicles shown to the press at the GM Progress of Power show and was developed by GM Research Laboratories to permit evaluation of the vapor cycle engine under actual operating conditions.
From other resources, we see that this was allegedly the first steam-powered vehicle with a complete set of power accessories, including air conditioning, thus making it more feasible for modern vehicles. We also see that the steam engine could run on any atomized fuel, making it a multi-fuel engine capable of running on diesel, kerosene or gasoline, and that it was backed up by the experimental 250-TT toric transmission. What prevented further development of the SE-101 were the size and weight of the steam powerplant (450 pounds heavier than the V-8 engine it replaced at less than half the horsepower), less-than-ideal water consumption from a too-small water condenser, and the likelihood of freezing.
As for the other steam-powered vehicle presented with the SE-101, we believe that was the SE-124 1969 Chevelle, fitted with a Besler Developments steam engine. Both were profiled in the July 1969 issue of Popular Science by frequent SIA contributors Norbye and Dunne.
The other photo shows an uncommon view of the Firebird III as it received its 225hp Whirlfire Gas Turbine engine. The photo dates to September 14, 1958, and also shows a rare glimpse of the interior structure of the Firebird III before its titanium body panels were attached.
David’s sent us more, so stay tuned.