Have a look at this interesting article about a book that discusses how Chrysler actually developed a jet powered car in the 1960's. It's a shame that it didn't come to fruition, as our commute/destinations times would be ridiculously fast!
Such an ugly looking beast..... Still forget that old heap of junk... Jaguar have just unveiled a hybrid / jet turbine prototype. Around town it will run on batteries alone with a range of 60 miles... however put your foot down and two small jet turbines kick in - o-60 in 3.2 and onto 210 mph.... max range with the turbines = 560 miles... so not bad.
Watched jet powered turbine engine dragsters in the early '70's at the 1/4 mile St. Louis International speedway. Basically a jet engine mounted onto a AA feul dragster. Turned 4's in the quarter like a dart down the 1/4 mile strip.
Jet engines have been used for years in various forms to provide mechanical propulsion. There are some positives and negatives to consider depending on the application.
They run on almost any kind of low grade fuel or oil and they provide a lot of power at upper throttle or wide open speeds. Turbo Prop planes, Pulling Tractors and pulling 4x4's at State Fairs all have made good use of the high speed, high horsepower output through mechanical drives transmitting power to the ground (or prop) via transmissions and traditional drive trains. The jet dragsters use the standard principle of jet propulsion to provide thrust, with the help of a large afterburner system to achieve the short, fast, powerful punch needed to move down the quarter mile. They need the "bang" from a big afterburner to this because the natural power curve of a jet engine lends its self very poorly for low end torque and acceleration.
Some of the negatives:
Sluggish power curve, no torque at all low speed, the engines must be in the upper rpm ranges to produce even, smooth, predictable power. The design characteristics that make these engines produce a lot of horsepower at top end, make the engine perform very undesirably, and uneconomically at lower speeds.
Notice on the engines you do see in use, both mechanically transmitting power to the ground or by thrust, they must hold the vehicle in place with a braking system until the engines have a chance to spool up, then it is basically hold it as long as you possible can then "let go" and push the throttle to the dash board, kind of like shooting a rubber band. The turbo prop plane uses a variable pitch prop, so the engine can get up into that high rpm range, then the pitch of the prop its self is changed to achieve the desired thrust or acceleration.
The Chrysler car performed "similar" to a traditional gas engine at highway speed, but not at low speed, or in start and stop traffic. Plus, the whine of the turbine has got to be annoying.
Did you know Ford developed a nuclear powered car? But is was quickly discarded because someone in Washington thought that making plutonium available to the public as a common fuel for their autos was really not such a great idea.