Listen to the Jet-Engined Howmet TX Howl Around Track
This footage shows the heyday of wild racing innovation.
Few cars were more off-the-wall than the Howmet TX. Powered by a two-stage Continental gas turbine engine, it propelled around the track with a distinct whirl that made it instantly recognizable. It was introduced in 1968 and wowed all of its competitors with its trick powerplant and futuristic demeanor, helping it to gain a reputation that has lasted for nearly 50 years. This onboard footage shows the car being lapped around the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit, living up to its fabled expectations with a noisy yet intoxicating exhaust note.
One of the things you'll notice about this video is that the driver never shifts. Thanks to the Howmet's single forward gear transmission, the car never had to change gear during a race. Its jet engine produced thrust in two stages, allowing for a unique power delivery and driving technique. It may not have played out to the car's advantage, but it certainly added to its quirky list of characteristics.
Total output of the Continental aviation engine was 350 brake horsepower and 650 lb. ft. of torque. Those are respectable figures, especially once you consider that the motor weighed only 170 pounds. Displacement couldn't be measured the same way as a traditional piston engine, but many claim that it equated to more than the three liter limit placed on cars that raced in the series.
Eventually, the Howmet Corporation decided that the TX's racing campaign was too expensive to continue. This came after several motable endurance races including the 1968 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring. The TX was then used as a promotional tool for the company with Howmet building them to set land speed records in the following years.
Despite its short-lived racing career, the Howmet TX played a major hand in motorsport innovation. Not only that, it gave us plenty of entertainment that still continues in 2017.