Is It Possible to Power a Car With Tequila?: It Drinks and Drives

With growing global concerns about climate change, automakers are exploring alternative fuel sources for vehicles that will offer good fuel economy. Some of these alternatives were used when cars were first developed, some are in use now, and others are just starting to emerge. While there is a broad push toward electric vehicles (EVs), companies are also looking at hydrogen and other unusual fuel possibilities. What about tequila? Can a car run on tequila and get good gas mileage?

A history of unconventional vehicle fuels

Putting fuel in a car using a gas pump with a red handle.
Putting fuel in vehicle | Getty Images

According to I Drive Safely, EVs aren’t a new thing. The first automobiles ran on electricity and steam in the late 1700s. It wasn’t until the 1870s that steam became practical for smaller vehicles. Unfortunately, they had limited range and took time to start.

Earlier in the 1800s, buggies powered by electricity were developed globally. Later in the century, both England and France began designing EVs not too different from what you see today. 

The first U.S. EV seated six and traveled at 14 mph. The first hybrid, powered by electricity and gas, was designed by Ferdinand Porsche in 1898. It set the standard for hybrids developed more than a century later.

A car that can run on tequila?

There are as many as 21 different ways to power a car beyond fossil fuels, according to Visually. Many of the biofuels they explain aren’t traditional fuels like gasoline. There are many options, including ethanol, hydrogen, natural gas, and more. Vehicles powered by hydrogen are an oddity because they utilize fuel cells to produce electricity from hydrogen. 

Other biofuels on the list might be surprising to some. Waste vegetable oil, feces, chocolate, ammonia, and coffee can all be used to power a car. But would you believe that tequila can too?

The engine of the Chrysler Turbine Car could run on tequila along with Chanel No. 5, diesel, kerosene, jet fuel, and vegetable oil. It was a costly jet engine. Back in the day, lead pump gas wasn’t suitable for the unique engine, which was very loud to operate.

The Bronze Blowtorch

In the early 1960s, Chrysler Corporation made a limited-run gas turbine car that was said to run on everything from Chanel No. 5 to peanut oil. Adolfo López Mateos. The President of Mexico at the time had one of these models. According to Revivaler, he used tequila to power it. It ran beautifully.

Chrysler’s limited production gas turbine car that ran on tequila came to be known as The Bronze Blowtorch.

While Ford tried this in the 1950s by installing a Boeing gas turbine in the popular Ford Thunderbird, it stopped there. Ford didn’t try a limited production run of test cars for public testing as Chrysler did. After Chrysler made five prototypes, it made fifty “Bronze Blowtorch” cars.

The cars were powered by Chrysler’s fourth-generation A-381 regenerator gas turbine engine. It was paired with a TorqueFlite three-speed automatic transmission. Volunteer drivers received the cars so they could evaluate them for three months. The volunteers had to agree to submit a detailed report to Chrysler about their experiences and opinions on the cars.

Forty-six of the production cars were driven and evaluated by 203 volunteer drivers. The feedback was largely positive. The only criticisms were that the cars were slow to accelerate from a standing start and had lower fuel economy than vehicles they’d previously driven.

When the trials in 1966 were completed, Chrysler disposed of 46 of the cars. It was concerned that if the cars were poorly maintained, they could result in bad PR. Of the cars still in existence, Chrysler has two of them. Jay Leno owns one, and the rest are in private collections and museums.

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