• Oct 31, 2006
UPDATE: Live shots from SEMA show floor added after jump


Jay Leno may have made fun of corn farmers and the Toyota Prius, but he unveiled a stunning mid-engine supercar that is environmentally friendly and hopefully an inspiration to young car enthusiasts. The covers were pulled off Leno's EcoJet on Monday at a late-night ceremony in the Wynn's Hotel in Las Vegas where the car will be displayed at the SEMA Show.

"I drive it, wait for the harvest, get some corn and drive it some more," quipped Leno, who told Autoblog that he is also converting his shop to solar power in an effort to be more environmentally conscious.

Leno said he originally wanted a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle but time constraints killed that idea. Bio-diesel was the backup plan, so Leno sought out a 650-horsepower Honeywell LT-101 turbine engine, mated to a Corvette automatic transaxle. Much of the vehicle platform is based on the C6 Corvette, including a special aluminum frame, brakes and suspension components. What was the targeted top speed for the 2,400-pound car? "How much fun can you have with it," answered Leno, noting the exhaust sounds like "a jet engine taking off."



Designer from the GM Advanced Design Studio worked with sketches Leno originally made on a napkin. Leno said there were no constraints placed on the design, like where the golf clubs would go. The idea was built to be a fast, fun vehicle with design cues pulled from Formula 1 and various aircraft. Perhaps the most eye-catching and innovative design elements are the turbine-inspired, Alcoa-built wheels (20x10 front, 22x12 rear) and the massive exhaust slots -- one for each side of the engine. The water-born paint is from BASF and the interior isn't finished, but Leno promises it will be "cruelty free," so Pam Anderson of PETA fame will take a drive with him.
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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 33 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Funny how all the lefties who are ouraged by executive compensation never seem to be bothered by guys like Leno, who make millions and have 200 cars merely for some stupid, sleezy show that isn't half as funny as when his predecessor did it. Great, Leno buys another supercar that none of us can afford. If I want to be excited with no hope of consummation, I'll look at real pr0n instead of car pr0n.
      • 8 Years Ago
      17. 12#

      I guess you are a Jay Leno fan.
      In my view, he has the cash, but he doesn't have the good taste: if you want to see how to do spend the same cash, but properly, check what Jim Glickenhaus did with his 1.5 million: the P4/5, by Pininfarina.

      Now: I'm sure he had fun! And I don't blame him!
      But you shouldn't ask ME to have fun with it... I don't agree with the turbine technology, the showing of an unfinished car, the lame ecological excuse, the cheap fiberglass, or the Z06 platform, but that's just what I think.

      Posted at 12:29PM on Oct 31st 2006 by Tiago do Vale 0 stars
      ===============================================

      There goes another fool!
      PLEASE leave Autoblog for the car enthusiasts!

      Do you even know the depth and breadth of Jay Leno's car collection?
      All his cars are usable--and he uses them regularly. From steam engines to fabricated cars with bus engines. Jay Leno is a real car enthusiast.
      He hires some of the best car mechanics and they're constantly looking at new and innovative products.

      He even fabricates his own parts ON SITE for many of his ancient or one-off cars.

      What does Glickenhaus do?
      $4 million can buy ANYTHING. It is not a reliable indicator of taste.
      You'll be lucky to ever see that car ever again (what with its $4 million price tag and all).
      Besides, what are its performance numbers?


      Secondly, if you don't know the difference between CARBON FIBER and FIBERGLASS, you're more of a joke than you appear to be.
      What do you know about how "finished" or "unfinished" the car is?
      Care to share your inside information with us?

      Then there is your peculiar statement that you don't "agree with" the turbine technology.
      Where should we start? Grammar? Or English comprehension?
      That statement makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. It makes about as much sense as:

      "Gee! It's 8:00PM and I haven't written the cheesecake yet."
      • 8 Years Ago
      if you're interested in talking to jay tonight at 6pm pst, you should head on over to his live blog, where he'll be fielding questions from his fans about cars...his cars, their cars or just cars in general.

      http://blog.nbc.com/jaysgarage/ check it out!
      • 5 Years Ago
      The hybrid Advanced Gas-turbine Engine of a variable cycle for Supercar.
      Power of engine 800 HP, 1200 HP – short time.
      Torque on the start 1431 Nm.
      Weight of engine 110 kg .
      Size of engine: width 390 mm , height 390 mm , length 800 mm .
      Air inlet – 4 pipes in diameter 98mm, the gas outlet – 4 pipes in diameter 106mm.
      The car has no a box of speeds and coupling.
      Weight of supercar –1000 kg.
      Transmission – electric, 125hp, 42000 RPM. Other power – direct transfer from the turbine.
      Acceleration of the supercar up to 100km/h – 3sec, up to 400km/h –23sec.
      Gas turbine engine for car – it is use of all kinds of the fuels, low emission of harmful substances, low consumption of the oil, the easy starting at negative temperatures, the less weight and sizes and etc.
      At the offered engine the new scheme and simple the variable gas-dynamic cycle, which gives in addition the unique properties and capabilities for the engine and for the car.
      In comparison with the usual gas-turbine engine the offered engine has in 2 times smaller nominal power and in 5 times smaller power of a transmission, the large air tapping behind the compressor and power take-off from a compressor turbine rotor without increase of the gases temperature and without decrease of the engine power.
      I suggest to create the preliminary project of the Supercar with the Advanced Gas Turbine Engine.
      Please, send your comments and question.
      Best Regards, Valentine. Engineer.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #17:

      The Pininfarina P4/5 was a rip-off of the '80s Corvette Indy. Sorry to tell you.
      • 8 Years Ago
      @#4

      Do you know why that view looks good? It is a direct copy of the new GTR. Publicity stunts like this does nothing to the environment and the auto industry. So what is it for other that free advertising?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Jay is a real car guy,in fact he was a mechanic. He works on his own cars, he buys cars to save. How many of you can say that?

      The "looks like" gets pretty old, you can make the case that anything "looks like" something else or that something else was "borrowed" from something else. Those of us who have a few miles on us have actually seen a lot of this many times before, perhaps even before many here were born. It all looks like something else.

      The car has some pretty good ideas. Good job Jay and GM.

      Love how some folks say GM should (insert choice here)then they do and you don't like that either.

      If the car Jay and GM did here inspires one up and coming engineer and stylist to follow that path and come up with someting better, he did a great job.



      • 8 Years Ago
      Reminds me a bit of the Saab Aero-X concept. Not the turbine and such of course but just the body shape. Beautiful car.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Is there a link to more pictures?

      Very creative drivetrain and styling. Jay's work is always clean! GM needs Jay to give the final green light to all their projects.
      Brad
      • 8 Years Ago
      In response to:

      24. ...I don't agree with the turbine technology applied to a car: it has some advantages (less engine parts, more reliable, runs on almost every fuel), but it's heavy, not fuel efficient, noisy, and it's exaust thrust can be a hazzard on the road for others.

      and

      31. I fly jets, and they are certainly not easy on fuel, especially at or near sea level, where this guy will be driven....so what makes it economical???...and what the hell is bio-diesel??
      Also, turbine engines have a spool up lapse between pushing the power (or foot pedal in this case) forward and actually getting the thrust out of the engine

      I think you are both writing under the assumption that Jay is using the jet engine for thrust. He's not. His turbine is shaft connected to a conventional Corvette-based drivetrain, according to the article. This changes the performance characteristics of the turbine. It's true that they would be noisy and probably dangerous to operate on the street if they were propelling the car via exhaust thrust. However, since they are not, I wouldn't doubt but what the exact opposite is true.

      I'll speak from experience. I have worked on F-15's in the Air Force which use afterburning jet engines for thrust. They, and most other jet engined aircraft are noisy under acceleration, and those thrust characteristics would indeed be impractical for a daily driven car.

      I currently work on C-130s which are turbo-prop powered, meaning the turbine engine is connected to the propeller by a driveshaft. The plane does not rely on jet thrust for its power. C-130s at ground idle are much quieter than F-15s at idle. And even under acceleration, when the volume goes up quite a bit for both planes, most of the noise a C-130 is making comes from propeller chop, not turbine exhaust. Most turbine powered helicopters are similar in that the noise you hear comes from rotor chop, not the exhaust. When a turbine has a well designed exhaust diffuser, and a muffled intake, the result can be very quiet indeed. Since the turbine in Jay's car is connected to a driveshaft which is turning the wheels, I expect that the mechanical noise wouldn't be much louder than a Corvette.

      Regarding weight, turbines are NOT heavy for the amount of power they produce. In fact they are very light, hence their popularity in aircraft where weight is absolutely critical. I should think that Jay's turbine, making over 600 hp, probably weighs 250 lbs or less. I'm pretty sure that I read a while back that the turbine in his jet bike makes around 300 hp and weighs somewhere between 100 and 130 lbs. The only automotive engines which come close to this power/weight ratio are Mazda's Wankel rotaries. What does a stock 6.0L Corvette engine weigh? Well over 450 pounds I'm sure and it makes 100-200 fewer horsepower, depending on performance level.

      It's probably true that the EcoJet is weak on torque from a standstill, but the roll-on acceleration of turbines can be truly amazing. The article said that the turbine was connected to a Corvette-style transaxle, but it didn't specify what sort of gearchange it used. A turbine hooked to a CVT which could keep the engine steady at its power peak during acceleration would make for a freakin' fast car. This would be equivalent to the prop drive on a C-130. With the engines set to ground idle and the props set to minimum thrust, each engine averages about 58 lb/ft of torque. But if the turbines are set to max power, and the props are set for max thrust, the engines can make over 1500 lb/ft of thrust at the driveshaft. A CVT in a car would work like variable props on a plane, adjusting the amount of power and torque transferred to the driveline depending on the "need for speed."

      That's my two cents. Kudos to Jay for yet another great automotive project brought to life. Jay Leno is like an automotive Howard Hughes. He has vision, he has talent, and he has money. Whatever he can't do himself he gets good people to do for him. Why? Mostly just because he can. The automotive scene is richer with him than without him.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "Jingoistic replies decrying a love for all things Japanese aren't required, it has nothing to do with euro/japan loving and everything to do with common design sense"
      "it could very well be that everyone recognizes the car looks like sh!t and that everyone is equally curious why it has to look like sh!t given all the attractive cars out there, that's all."

      Ok I went a little far with my "jingoistic" comment. But I am sick of all the negativity on these boards. Just like your comment saying that this car looks like "sh!t". Seems a little extreme to me. I get the feeling they were going for something a little "Hot-Wheelish" and weren't trying to design the next Muira or Testa Rossa. Maybe they are just having some sh!ts and giggles while letting some designers get crazy on Leno's tab. I'll bet most of you wouldn't turn down a ride in the thing.
      Ned
      • 8 Years Ago
      Wow, it must be a GREAT car to stir up this much emotion...

      As an engineer, I may be able to explain some things with the power plant. The turbine engine for a car is similar to what is used in a jet airplane and yet at the same time it is very different.

      An airplane uses the exhaust gasses of the turbine engine to produce thrust. The exhaust exits at very high speeds. When the turbine engine is used to drive a shaft, like on this car, the energy of the exhaust is absorbed by the drive turbine. The result is a much slower speed of the exhaust air. The turbo lag issue is handled through many different means. Not being familiar with this specific application, I can't comment on how they handled it.

      The downside of the turbine has always been the temperature of the exhaust and the amount of air they use. Theere are many ways to treat the hot exhaust. Military aircraft do this to limit their exposure to heat seeking missles. It's not that difficult. There would be some concern controling this very powerful vacume cleaner. The real world has stuff like trash that would totally trash this engine if allowed to enter it.

      However, the upside, and it's a big one, is the the turbine engine is much more fuel efficient than typical engines. In fact the turbine powerplant is more energy efficient and eco friendly than hybrids, all electrics and hydrogen fuelcells when you consider the energy needed creating the basic fuel.

      All in all, I think this is a very cool idea. It would sound much cooler than any hydro fuelcell ever could. As with must things in life, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My eye sees something that's very different, but no something that I really like.

      Ned
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