SEMA: Jay Leno and GM unveil turbine-powered EcoJet supercar

click on image to enlarge

Unforgettable cars associated with the Leno name include the Tank Car and the twin turbo Toronado. After Monday night, we can add the EcoJet to that list. Designed and produced in collaboration with Leno, his Big Dog team of mechanics and GM's Design Studio in North Hollywood, the EcoJet is powered by a Honeywell LT-101 turbine engine producing 650 horsepower and 400 ft-lbs. of torque on bio-diesel. It rides on a modified Corvette Z06 hydroformed aluminum frame with additional aluminum and magnesium chassis components. The skin: 100% pure carbon fiber over Kevlar. The EcoJet's shape is a mix of Cadillac's current design language and cues taken from F1 racers and aeronautical craft.

The EcoJet was introduced at a shindig thrown by GM last night in Las Vegas at the SEMA show, and Autoblog's Mike Magda was in attendance. Unfortunately his hotel lacks the wi-fi, so we'll bring you some additional shots of this shocker later today.

You can still check out GM's press release after the jump, though.

[Source: GM]


Turbine-Powered Ecojet Concept Began With Meeting, Sketches On A Napkin
Jay Leno, GM Advanced Design Studio Collaborated on 650-Horsepower Supercar That Runs on Bio-Diesel

LAS VEGAS - What would keep a group of automotive designers up all night? "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno, for starters, but not by his monologue or parade of Hollywood guests. This time it's because the late-night talk show host invited the General Motors Advanced Design Studio to help design a mid-engine, turbine-powered supercar called EcoJet. Leno and Ed Welburn, GM vice president of Global Design, introduced the car today at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show.

EcoJet's genesis goes back to a discussion between Leno, an avid car enthusiast and collector, and Bernard Juchli, the chief mechanic and caretaker of Leno's collection. Leno then turned to Welburn for design direction.

"A couple of paper napkins later, Ed had begun to capture the essence of the car," said Leno. "I've admired the work of GM's Design Studio in North Hollywood, Calif., and asked Ed if the studio's director, Frank Saucedo, and his guys could continue the design study," Welburn agreed, and a two-week sketching frenzy commenced as GM's designers began working after-hours with Leno's team on the project.

"EcoJet's esthetics were driven by aeronautical and jet-age influences," said Welburn. "It's a purpose-driven design that conveys power, capability and even danger, with a hint of Cadillac's sophisticated design vocabulary."

Borrowing design cues from jet aircraft and Formula One racecars, the supercar began to take shape under the watchful eyes of Leno and Welburn. A concurrent engineering program defined the vehicle's proportions and mechanics.

Leno relied on Juchli and the entire Big Dog team at his garage to turn the EcoJet vision into a reality.

"We thought we pushed the creative envelope with the '66 twin turbo Toronado project with GM, but this turbine-powered monster is a whole new level of complexity," said Juchli, who constructed the car at Leno's facility.

The 650-horsepower (400 lb.-ft. of torque) Leno original is powered by a Honeywell LT-101 turbine engine that runs on bio-diesel fuel. The engine sits in a modified Corvette Z06 hydroformed aluminum frame with aluminum and magnesium structural and chassis components. The vehicle's shell is an advanced construction of carbon fiber over Kevlar.

EcoJet project partners
  • GM Advanced Design Studio, North Hollywood, Calif. - conceptual and build design, engineering, digital design and fabrication support
  • Alcoa - chassis and wheel engineering
  • Metalcrafters - body engineering and construction
  • Honeywell - engine supplier
  • Intermountain Turbine - engine builders
  • Dana - chassis supplier
  • BASF - paint and finishing supplies
  • GE Plastics - Lexan windows
  • Viper Technologies - wheel construction
Vehicle description: mid-engine, turbine-powered, two-seat supercar
Wheelbase (in / mm): 110 / 2795
Engine: Honeywell LT-101
Horsepower @ % turbine speed): 650 @ 70
Torque (lb-ft @ % turbine speed): 400 @ 70
Fuel type: bio-diesel
Wheels: 20 x 10-in front_22 x 12-in rear
Tires: 255/35R20 front_305/30R22 rear
Track (in / mm): 66.9 / 1698 front_66.6 / 1692 rear
Overall length (in / mm): 184 / 4674
Overall width ( in / mm): 79.4 / 2024
Overall height (in / mm): 46.5 / 1180

Share This Photo X