Here’s What We’re Missing …

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Best-case mileage you can get in a new car is 48 MPG – the advertised highway mileage of a 2012 Toyota Prius hybrid.

It sucks.

If, that is, you can remember… .

Back in 1981, the Dodge Omni (and several other small cars) was delivering 50 MPG. And 40-something was common. That’s gas-powered cars, too. Diesels – like the ’80 VW Rabbit – posted highway mileage pushing 60 MPG.

See here for an interesting little graph.

Mind, these cars were returning mileage better than – or at least as good as – “state-of-the-art” 2012 model hybrids, even though they were primitive in terms of their technology. Most had carburetors; none had overdrive transmissions.

But they lacked the one thing that a new hybrid – a new car, period – has too much of: curb weight.

These ’80s-era economy cars were flyweights. All weighed barely 2,000 lbs. – some, less. Since it takes less power to move less weight, they used less gas – even without modern technological advances.

And with those advances?

The results would be nothing less than spectacular.

Swap in a modern six-speed dual clutch automatic (or CVT) for the inefficient four-speed manual (or three-speed automatic) those early ’80s cars typically came with. This would drop engine RPM by 20-30 percent in top gear, during steady-state cruising. A dual-clutch (or just a modern automatic with lock-up converter) or a CVT would also dramatically reduce driveline efficiency losses. Probably good for another 5 percent improvement. Replace the original carburetors with a simple, but modern, Throttle Body (TBI) fuel injector and computer to maintain the ideal air-fuel ratio at all times. Probably another 10 percent efficiency improvement there (plus “modern car” driveability).

Finally, for the maximum effort, use modern low-friction manufacturing techniques to decrease rolling resistance. Maybe some aerodynamic tweaking of the exterior.

We’d have 55 MPG gas-burning cars. Probably 70 MPG diesels.

And it could all be done without having to resort to costly 21st century hybrid technology – which, remember, is only just barely matching the at-the-pump performance of early ’80s-era economy cars.

If, that is, the curb weight could be kept to 2,000 lbs. or so.

This is the key to efficiency.

Ever wonder why a motorcycle with a tiny 1,000 cc engine that only makes say 160 hp can out-accelerate the quickest supercars and still return 45 MPG? It’s because the bike is light.

Unfortunately, new cars are heavy.

A new Toyota Corolla sedan weighs almost 2,800 lbs. A new Honda Civic sedan weighs 2,608 lbs. A new Jetta TDI (diesel) weighs in at almost 3,200 lbs.

On average, current-year compact sedans weigh about 500 pounds more than an ’80s-era compact sedan.

If you put 500 pounds of bricks in the trunk of an ’80 Rabbit or Dodge Omni, you’d end up with circa 2012 fuel economy: low-mid 30s in city driving and maybe 40 MPG on the highway.

But if, on the other hand, you could remove 500 pounds of “bricks” from a new Corolla or Civic or TDI Jetta, the result would be fuel economy substantially better than Reagan Era economy cars.

And better than current-era hybrid cars, too.

They’d be more affordable than current-era hybrid cars too.

Adding an overdrive gear (or two) to a transmission involves orders of magnitude less expense in terms of R&D,  the physical parts themselves and manufacturing/assembly than designing (and building) a car with two powertrains, (a standard gas engine/transmission, plus an electric motor/battery pack, as in a hybrid).

How much less expense?

Well, on the retail level, one can buy a ready-to-install TBI fuel injection system for about $1,500. Let’s say $2,000 for an overdrive transmission. Call it $4,000 to add the essential technological updates to an ’80s-era compact.

The brand-new MSRP of a 1980 VW Rabbit diesel was about $5,000. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $13k today. So add $4,000 for the updates.

A 60 MPG car for less than $18,000.

That’s at least $6,000 less than the cost of a new Prius hybrid – and 10 MPG better at the pump.

And remember, the $4,000 for the updates assumes retail prices for the components – you or me buying the parts over the counter. The economies of scale a car manufacturer could exploit would likely cut the per-car cost for these improvements in half.

Imagine: a 60 MPG car you could buy for $15,000.

But, of course, you can’t. Because the car companies have been told they must build safe cars – which means, heavy cars.Those ’80s-era cars didn’t have to have four (or six or eight) air bags and didn’t have to meet the bumper impact crash standards that 2012 cars must. So, of course, they were less “safe” – if you got into a wreck – than a modern economy compact with all the Stuff that the government now requires.

Put another way, fuel economy (and low-cost) takes a back seat to “safety” – as defined by the government.

It’d be nice if the government allowed consumers to make the choice themselves.

Given the popularity of  48 MPG hybrids like the $23,520 to start Prius – which reportedly sells for full MSRP sticker and forget about haggling – it’d be interesting to see how well a 60 MPG $15,000 economy sedan would do in the marketplace.

Too bad the government has decided we’ll never get the opportunity to find out.

Throw it in the Woods?

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eric

Author of "Automotive Atrocities" and "Road Hogs" (MBI). Currently living amongst the Edentulites in rural SW Virginia. 

  202 comments for “Here’s What We’re Missing …

  1. January 12, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Weight is a big part of it, but there are other factors at work.

    Remember the 55 MPH National Speed Limit?

    Test today’s cars with 55 MPH as the highway cruising speed and watch those MPGs climb.

    Folks expect much better acceleration today. Take away a bunch of HP and you’ll get better fuel economy. But who wants to go slower? :)

    And then there’s everyone’s favorite … Ethanol. Today’s blends deliver fewer MPGs then the old days.

    We’re not going back to 55, folks won’t start buying slugs, and we’re not likely to see Ethanol go away.

    • January 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      Definitely.

      Still, I’d be willing to bet an ’80s-era platform such as those mentioned in the article, updated with an overdrive and EFI, would still be capable of much better mileage, even at current road speeds, than a current hybrid. Just imagine what a current Jetta TDI would deliver if it weighed 2,600 lbs. instead of 3,100 lbs.

      As far as slower: At least on secondary (non-highway) roads, my experience is that most people drive pretty slowly. They do about the speed limit; they accelerate gradually – using (usually) probably no more than half the potential acceleration their vehicles are capable of. I routinely pass (and am moving faster than) probably 80-plus percent of traffic when I’m out driving my four-cylinder ’98 Nissan Frontier compact pick-up. At 10-15 MPH over the limit, I’m sailing past 300 hp SmooVees and luxury sedans, plodding along in Cloverite stupor.

      I like speed/power, too. But the truth is most Americans can’t or won’t drive fast. Really, 80-something MPH is the upper limit; 70-75 is more typical (highways). And secondary roads are not moving much faster now than they were in 1975.

      So, a 2,000 lb. car capable of 0-60 in 10 seconds, with a top speed of say 110 MPH and “comfortable” at 75 is arguably plenty adequate for the real-world ways most Americans drive.

      Do you disagree?

      Such a car would be capable of of 60-plus MPG, too – no hybrid technology needed.

      • January 12, 2012 at 10:37 pm

        Cars will get lighter, more aerodynamic, and more thoughtfully geared, no doubt about that. Highway efficiency is all about aero and finding the sweet spot. The new Grand Cherokee inherited air suspension from Mercedes … it lowers itself at highway speeds, automagically. Weight doesn’t matter nearly as much on the roll as it does in town. They’ll be building rubber-band winders into the land barges, soon enough. Hydraulics might be less expensive than batteries.

    • clover
      January 13, 2012 at 10:35 pm

      MPGomatic, your are exactly right. Yes the current mpg ratings of cars today would be far better if they were tested at 55 mph rather than 65 mph with the AC on. I have done testing with my car and can beat some of those flyweight cars of the past with lower speeds. I see that some quote their high mpg in an old diesel that they have. A person can get far better than the average rating on any car if they drive it to do so. I can average about 40 mpg over all with a car rated at 35 mpg highway just by driving it right. You put another driver in the seat and it could drop to under 30 mpg overall.

      If the public wanted a lighter car then one could be easily made. Just drop out some things like power windows and AC, power brakes and a smaller alternator with less electronics in the car and a smaller battery. A lighter engine would be possible if you wanted less hp as in the high mpg of the cars in the 80s. It is not too good to compare cars of today to cars of the late 70s and early 80s that had no power or accessories and were death traps.

      • January 13, 2012 at 10:48 pm

        Yes, Clovers – and the mileage would be even better at 45! How slow shall we go?

        • clover
          January 13, 2012 at 11:11 pm

          Yes Eric mpg is better at 45 mph. About twice what it is at your 75 to 80 mph. You are looking to save every last cent out of driving but are willing to spend an extra thousand or two dollars by driving like a race car driver.

          I had one of your race car drivers almost hit me Wednesday night. I was over in Omaha following my cousin from California in town on a local 4 lane street. He took off and I told the family members in the car that I was driving that I was not going to try to keep up with him after he took off and I saw a glaze on the roadway. He was about 8 car lengths ahead or more and we were traveling up a medium grade hill. All of a sudden I had a driver coming down hill the other direction starting to lose it. I was able to pull away from him a little and he missed me by less than a foot. I looked in the mirror behind me and he was fully into the lane that I had just been in. It is not a good site seeing all those so called expert race car drivers on the highway.

          On my way home last night from the long trip the roads got pretty bad. I was going the speed limit when I noticed a slight shine on the roadway so slowed down 10 to 15 mph then I started to feel the ice and slowed down even more. A mile down the road there was a semi flipped over in the ditch and a little farther there was a minivan that had the roof crunched down to the hood level. Farther down the road there were more vehicles in the ditch. It must have been those expert fast drivers in the ditch.

          • mithrandir
            January 14, 2012 at 1:59 am

            I did not know Eric sponsored NASCAR teams. ;) I learn something new every day. :)

            If the road appeared icy to you then you reacted appropriately to road conditions. Ice is not always visible on the road, which is why the term “black ice” is used.

            Although ice might have contributed to those vehicles ending in a ditch, there is no guarantee that the vehicles were speeding. They could have lost control even if they were driving slower than the PSL.

            The driver that barely missed you could have been a clover. If he was an expert driver I am sure he would have driven in a better manner. ;)

          • BrentP
            January 14, 2012 at 2:02 am

            “mpg is better at 45 mph. About twice what it is at your 75 to 80 mph.”

            Want to know how I know you just repeat what you are told by the government and the TV news and other lying sources Clover? Because you repeat stuff like this. It’s clear you either have no real experience of your own or you put it aside for what “authority” tells you. Both are really symptoms of the same disease.

            IME Only my little mazda shows any significant difference in fuel economy between 55mph and 80mph. It drops about 10% not 50%. My V8 cars. I don’t notice any difference at all. With them what is important is maintaining speed. My theory is the little four cylinder has to suck more fuel to maintain the high rpm of FWD to go the faster speed. The V8s just lop along effortlessly at a low rpm in top gear.

          • clover
            January 14, 2012 at 3:32 am

            BrentP, I have not tested your vehicles but yes a 4 cyl car does drop a lot in mpg as speed increases. Yes an 8 cyl car does not drop as much as a percent with increased speeds but it sucks so much more gas that it does not really matter because you do not want to drive it anyway if you want to save gas. Here is a link about what speed changes can do.

            http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2011/04/fuel-economy-save-money-on-gas/index.htm

          • January 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm

            Well, Clover, the flip of this is that some 400-plus hp V-8s are capable of delivering better highway mileage (cose to 30 MPG) than 150 hp V-6s were managing in the ’80s. And some current 300-plus hp V-6s can deliver highway numbers within a few MPGs of four-cylinder engines (example, the current Mustang’s V-6).

            To a great extent, engineering advances (overdrive transmissions, variable cam/valve timing, reductions in rolling resistance) have made it possible to drive faster with a bigger engine and still get as good or better mileage than a circa 1985 Clover doing 55 in the passing lane.

          • clover
            January 14, 2012 at 3:04 pm

            Eric I dd some research on your Mustang you brought up with a V6. The sticker I looked at had a 19 city and 31 highway rating. The standard Focus with a 4 cyl which is about the same size car has a 26 city and 36 highway rating. That is 36 percent better in town and 20 percent better on the highway. Yes the V6 and V8 engines are getting better on gas but are still a lot worse than a 4 cyl unless you have the need to drive 80+ mph and then the mpg is closer. You keep forgetting that millions of added cars are being added to the highways around the world each year. 31 mpg is just not going to do it to keep enough fuel available for all those cars.

          • January 14, 2012 at 3:06 pm

            You missed the point entirely – again!

            I wasn’t arguing that V-8s get better mileage than V-6s. I was pointing out that current-year V-8s get better mileage than V-6s of the past (and so on).

            And that, accordingly, we get to drive at higher speeds (and enjoy more power) while burning about the same fuel as an ’80s-era Clover in his Clovermobile.

          • dom
            January 14, 2012 at 3:15 pm

            Clover, I did some research of my own about the facks you bring up. The sticker I looked at had ‘your opinions don’t matter’ city and ‘you’re retarded’ on the highway. According to all my research, at the rate Clovers are breeding there will not be enough oxygen available for the world population very soon. Cars/air-pumps not even included! How many are you? Why do you come here? What do you do for a living?

          • BrentP
            January 14, 2012 at 3:41 pm

            Clover, a consumer reports article that restates the same 1970s stuff from authority is just demonstrating exactly what I believed about you.

            As to which car has more fuel consumption that was not the question. The question was fuel economy vs. speed. BTW, modern V8 vs. I4 at 80mph interstate… not a big difference.

          • clover
            January 14, 2012 at 3:52 pm

            Yes brent, what does that say about the need for speed? It makes gas mileage suck.

            As for Eric comments that the same gas mileage of the 80s being OK, if we all had the same gas mileage of the 80s there would be fuel lines today or the gas price would be 6 bucks a gallon to reduce usage needed to bring it closer to supply.

          • BrentP
            January 14, 2012 at 4:17 pm

            Clover, it’s my money and I’ll spend it the way I want. Plus you couldn’t hold a candle to me or anyone interested in vehicles overall when it comes to conservation anyway.

            Just one example: Eric saving that old motorcycle alone saved more energy than your driving will in years. Manufacturing takes energy.

            BTW, fleet average fuel economy dropped below where it was in the 1980s years ago and to my knowledge has not recovered. Also there is now more oil known to exist measured in years at present rate and in volume than at any time since oil started running out in the 19th century. Those who say otherwise need to get off their butts and prosecute big oil execs for fraud because these facts come from their annual reports.

          • clover
            January 14, 2012 at 5:13 pm

            BrentP, show me some stats that the average fuel economy has dropped for the fleet? That is not true even with the changed way the calculate fuel economy that gives a more realistic number of the way most people drive. My gas mileage has tripled since the 80s on one vehicle and doubled that of the most fuel efficient car I drove in the early 80s. With my car I can get almost the same gas mileage as some of the larger motorcycles and I do that every day not just some clear days in the summer. Someone that says they need to drive 80 mph has no knowledge about conservation of energy.

            Your comments about average fleet mpg is not quite right. Yes it has slowed the past decade but most of that is because of higher speed limits and the introduction and high use of SUVs.

            http://www.energyxxi.org/sites/default/files/MetricoftheMonth-NOV11MotorVehicleMPG.pdf

          • Jacob
            January 14, 2012 at 6:30 pm

            But, as rational creatures, we must balance cost versus time. “Time is money”, they say. Time spent travelling slower due to arbitrary limits is time I would prefer to spend sleeping, reading, playing games, or a thousand other things. Why should someone have the power to say, “Thou art a child, and shall be forced to travel according to MY value scale of time versus cost!”

          • January 14, 2012 at 6:31 pm

            “Why should someone have the power to say, “Thou art a child, and shall be forced to travel according to MY value scale of time versus cost!””

            Ask a Clover!

          • clover
            January 14, 2012 at 7:54 pm

            Jacob, your time versus money is meaningless. I see cars drive every day that use 20% more fuel just to save a few seconds. People are stupid. They pass a car and feel like they are saving a lot of time but in reality if you check the arrival times of the two cars they get there withing seconds. To me spending hundreds of dollars extra in a fuel a year is not worth the few seconds a person saves in a day. You can spend more time reading the articles on here than many that speed save in a year of travel time.

          • January 14, 2012 at 8:36 pm

            “I see cars drive every day that use 20% more fuel just to save a few seconds”

            Clover is so scientific! So factual!

          • January 14, 2012 at 8:52 pm

            “Jacob, your time versus money is meaningless”

            Notice, Clover, your subjective value judgment? According to you, it’s “meaningless” to drive faster to get there sooner. You’re incapable (being a Clover) of grasping that other people not only have different values, but have a right to have different values. But pusillanimous thugs-at-a-distance such as yourself can’t abide that. Everyone must do as Clover does – or else (the else to be provided by someone else, of course).

            I yearn for the day when little shitheads like you have to face the people you bully (using proxies) on your own. When the people you refuse to leave alone have the opportunity to hit back.

            That day is coming, Clover.

            It can’t get here soon enough.

          • clover
            January 14, 2012 at 8:38 pm

            I would put my facts up against Eric’s any day of the week.

          • January 14, 2012 at 8:48 pm

            Well, Clovers, let’s take a look, shall we?

            You “see” cars that (according to your Ozymandias-like powers of perception) “use 20 percent more fuel” in order to “save a few seconds.”

            Yes, indeed. Your “facts” certainly do have a quality all their own!

          • BrentP
            January 14, 2012 at 9:08 pm

            Clover, every day people use 100% more gasoline by driving when they could have been bicycling or walking.

            BTW, your kind seems always willing to risk a bicyclist’s life to get to a red light a couple seconds sooner so save the crying over a few drops of fuel.

          • BrentP
            January 16, 2012 at 3:40 pm

            Well clover, perhaps what was reported some years ago was incorrect, however your cite doesn’t really seem to state where that figure came from. It’s difficult to comment on something that is just there. There is some difference in the figures but your cite just has them there by magic so I can’t really tell what that might be. The historical numbers seem absurdly low.

            Here is a cite that is more along the lines of what I remember:
            http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_vehicles/solutions/cleaner_cars_pickups_and_suvs/fuel-economy-basics.html It’s from 2007:

            “Still, the average fuel economy of today’s U.S. car and truck fleet is 25.3 mpg, which is lower than the 25.9 mpg fleet average peak in 1987.”

          • clover
            January 21, 2012 at 8:17 pm

            Brent I entirely agree with the web site that you posted. Did you read it all? It says exactly what I have said all along. The main reason that the efficiency did not increase much over the years that you stated is the increase in speed limits and thus the way the vehicles were rated. If the vehicles were rated as they were in 1987 then the mpg average today would be far higher. The article that you mentioned is also dated more than 4 years ago. Vehicles have improved greatly from the time that your article was written. There are now many cars that are rated at 40 mpg or more on the highway and many more midsized cars that are rated in the 30s. You also forget the huge amount of cars build in the late 70s and early 80s that had a hp rating of under 100 hp and a vast majority of cars with under 150 hp. That was fine when you only needed to go up to 55 mph. I do remember that some of those that I drove were not capable of 55 mph up steeper inclines or head winds.

            Yes the CAFE standards are a major reason I am able to average around 40 mpg with the car I have today and still fast enough to not make people like you mad for traveling too slow in front of you. It is also the major reason we have the low gas prices we have today.

          • clover
            January 21, 2012 at 9:03 pm

            Brent , this is to respond to your accusation that I “seem always willing to risk a bicyclist’s life to get to a red light a couple seconds sooner”. You know you could not be farther from the truth. For one there are almost never bicyclists on the roads that I usually travel. The other reason you forget is that I am for safety. I am not the risk taker for myself and others like you have read about here many times.

          • BrentP
            January 21, 2012 at 10:25 pm

            Clover, I stated your kind, which I have encountered many many times on the road while bicycling. The kind of driver that brush passes me and then tells me I need to wear a helmet. There was a telling piece of information I gathered from bicycle helmet debates. Some drivers wanted helmet laws so they wouldn’t feel too bad when they HIT a bicyclist with their cars.

            Most of your kind doesn’t even understand what they are doing to bicyclists puts them at risk. And when I explain it to them their answer is if I don’t like it to get off the road.

            As to fuel economy, the speed limit doesn’t change fuel economy figures. Fuel economy figures are from specific tests which are independent of what speed limits are. Speed limits are NOT mentioned in the cite I found. I word searched for ‘speed’ it’s not there.

            Why would finding a number from the 1980s need to be a recent article? I also clearly stated it was from 2007, so why are you acting as if I was trying to deceive? And fleet fuel economy has been rather stagnant the last few years anyway. Fleet average fuel economy is a moving average of the cars actually on the road. It’s not going to change significantly in four years given how long a car remains in service these days. Here: http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_04_23.html

            My ’73 six cylinder was built *BEFORE* the NMSL. In the 80s, the same engine family was still available. It was built when speed limits were 70mph. So your theory of power increase is crap.

            CAFE is the major reason passenger trucks exist in great numbers. It has nothing to do why someone can buy a car with high mpg. High mpg cars have been on the market since the 1930s or before.

            If you’re in front of me, angering me because you are going to slow, you are in the wrong lane being a control freakish jerk.

          • clover
            January 22, 2012 at 4:45 am

            Brent where do you come up with your information. Yes speed is one of the major things used in EPA ratings on vehicles. If those speeds that are used were dropped to 55 mph instead of 65 mph or more then the rating on the vehicle that I drive would be far higher than what is on the sticker and what I actually get. A few years ago the way they calculate ratings on vehicles where changed and decreased to compensate for the way people actually drive which is at least 65 mph on the highway. That is why the same car on the road was then rated 2 or 3 mpg less than the year before.

          • Boothe
            January 22, 2012 at 5:09 am

            Right Clover, the same way the government changed the way they calculate the CPI. So now they can come up with a 2-3% annual inflation rate, instead of the actual 11% rate that the pre-1980 method returns. What do you do for a living? Be honest. Failure to respond is implicit evidence that you are a bureaucratic functionary that can’t stand having your deeds exposed by the light of truth.

          • BrentP
            January 22, 2012 at 5:31 am

            Clover, nobody drove 55 ever. Secondly it didn’t change per the speed limit. The speed limit isn’t part of it. Do you see speed limit mentioned here? http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/ratings2008.shtml

            As you can see from that cite values were calculated for older cars to keep things apples to apples. So you fail on all counts as usual.

            Of course not. Because the speed limit isn’t part of it. Speed limits vary. It’s 55mph where I live. Practically nobody drives it. Nobody drove it before either. Nobody drove it in the 1970s, 80s, 90s, 00s, or now.

          • clover
            January 22, 2012 at 5:53 am

            Brent get the facts. It is your kind of person that is a danger to bicyclists. The kind of person that has been brought up many times on this site that says get the hell out of my way including bicyclist because you are impeding the speed that I want to travel no matter if it is dangerous to bicyclists or other drivers alike. The kind of person that would pass a bicyclist if there is only inches of separation rather than wait 10 seconds to pass when there is more spacing.

            The only way that you can argue that the CAFE standards increased the number of pickup trucks on the roadways is that the CAFE standards helped to decrease the cost of fuel and thus making trucks not as expensive to run than they otherwise would have.

            My bringing up the lower power vehicles of the late 70s and early 80s is a fact if you like it or not. One of my first cars I drove had a 327 4 barrel carb. One of the company vehicles that I drove in the early 80s had a 6 cyl 85 hp engine. That sized vehicle was common place in that period. I do not care what you say about an individual vehicle because there were a high percent of low powered vehicles at that time. I looked up the full sized van that I drove once in a while and it had less than 120 hp. Most compact cars have more hp than that now. In the 80s you did not need that much power because in a majority of the states the speeds driven were 10 to 20 mph less than what they are today. In the states that I drove in that time period you would likely get a ticket if you were 5 mph over the limit.

          • BrentP
            January 22, 2012 at 6:51 am

            Clover, I _AM_ a bicyclist. As to the rest of your first paragraph, it’s just a pack of lies. You can check Eric’s article on bicyclists where I argued about how to properly pass, etc and so forth. Really clover, why do you lie? The fact remains, some of the worst encounters I’ve had with drivers were you slow pokes. Why? Because I passed them on my bicycle. Properly. On the left.

            Clover, CAFE killed most of the large RWD mass market passenger cars in 1985. People didn’t change in what they wanted. I noticed there were more trucks on the road in 1987-88. I Started noticing the sales figures in “Autoweek” and other publications. I know when the sales shifted because I paid attention to it. Sure a handful of models made it to 1996… then the crown vic and it’s siblings alone until the present. Enclosed trucks filled the gap CAFE created.

            As to power, again you are argument twisting. You stated power was up because of the speed limits. It’s up because it’s up, because people buy horsepower. There is no relationship to speed limits because the lesser powered cars had about the same horsepower before the NMSL as they did in the 1980s. By the end of the 80s they had _MORE_.

            I had an 80s car just a few years ago… I still own a pre NMSL car. One that people bought for -fuel economy-. Believe me, the mid 80s car had more power. Less torque, but more power. It was a much faster car and even in its old age, with a factory clutch that would slip if I didn’t downshift out of 5th to accelerate I could drive it fast enough to keep up. When that car was newer I drove it when I was in my teens. I drove it on long trips at speeds that would make you wince. Just a plain good mpg 4 door 1986 FWD sedan.

          • clover
            January 22, 2012 at 5:44 pm

            Brent, I do not lie. Yes people did drive 55 mph in at least the states that I drove. If you didn’t you would have a dozen tickets. From all my experience from driving on the road and from the thousands of posts here I can safely state as a fact that the get the hell out of my way drivers are the safety concerns of bicyclists and drivers alike. They could care less if they cause a danger to others particularly bicyclist.

            Yes Brent it is a good thing that CAFE eliminated much of the rear wheel drive gas hogs. Like it or not if we all still drove those we would have to import billions of dollars more in oil with the huge increase of vehicles on our highways. I know that you are all for that but the fact is that is a bad thing in many ways. It increases foreign trade deficit which is a bad thing and makes us need to protect that oil flow.

            You compare two cars that you drove from two different time periods and base your facts as you say on that one case. That is far from scientific and far from the actual truth. Yes there were some cars in the early 80s with power but there was a Huge increase in lower powered better gas mileage vehicles in the late 70s and early 80s than before that period. That is why according to the chart the gas mileage increased in the charts that I presented above along with the slower speed limits and slower travel speed. Yes I am sure that certain states and certain areas the people drove well over 55 mph and I agree with that but not in the mid-western states on the interstates and rural highways that I drove.

          • Brent P
            January 22, 2012 at 9:35 pm

            Clover, the government cooked the stats on 55mph compliance from day one. The whole dishonest scheme is documented in Mark Rask’s book “American Autobahn”.

            When I was in 3rd grade I was on a field trip where the two bus drivers raced each other down I-57 at 70mph. That was well into and well before the NMSL would come to an end. Practically nobody ever obeyed this stupid speed limit. Just people like yourself and only until a faster speed was needed to block others.

            Again, imported oil is _NOT A PROBLEM_ for a _PRODUCTIVE_ society. The problem is and has never been cheaper to extract imported oil, the problem is the increasingly unproductive US economy which is due to the government and those close to it.

            Clover, I am using examples to illustrate facts. My ’73 Ford has a 250cid I6. It was one option up from the standard 200cid I6. Ford was STILL installing these engines in cars in the early 80s. The last US Ford with a 200cid I6 was a 1984 model. This engine began production as a 120cid I6 in 1959!!! the 200 was introduced in the mid 1960s. The 250 in 1969. THEY ARE THE SAME ENGINES! BEFORE AND AFTER the NMSL! It was the same story at GM and Chrysler. Same with their small block V8s. There are numerous engines that were in the mix in the late 60s that made it to the 1980s. The horsepower ratings were changed from gross to net and some power was lost to emission controls but they were not much different than they were power wise before being bumped up in the late 60s. early 80s power was about on par with early 60s power for ordinary cars.

            Oh and you did lie about with regard to bicyclists because I am on the record here on that subject.

          • clover
            January 27, 2012 at 12:45 am

            Ok Brent, funny about your car engine story. When I first started driving my car was rated at 275 hp. In 1981 I was driving an 85 hp car because they were pretty much the norm at that time. You know I can not fight the truth that one engine was around for quite a few years but I do know there were far less powerful cars on average in 1980 than in the late 60s and 70s and the average mpg ratings proved that in many reports.

            I can not help that you believe that all of the books that YOU read are all full of facts. I lived at that time and drove a couple of hundred thousand miles or more om that time. I trust my eyes better than any book of made up things. Maybe your writer lived in the sticks out west. He did not live anywhere close to where I was during that time period. I do like it how you bring up one engine or one bus trip to back up your entire thinking of what the facts were.

          • January 27, 2012 at 11:16 am

            Clover, you’ve revealed your tremendous car (and engineering) knowledge once more!

            On your referenced “275 hp” when you first started driving: That was when horsepower was measured using the old SAE gross standard – engine on a stand, no accessories, without a production exhaust. Often, “tuned” to extract the maximum possible hp.

            These numbers were much higher – and greatly exaggerated – relative to the SAE net standard that came online beginning in 1972. Your “275” hp was more like 190-210 hp in today’s terms.

            That’s point the first.

            Point the second: Your 275 hp car was probably similar to almost all the mass-market American cars of its era in that it was body-on-frame (full-frame) and thus, heavy. Thus, “275” hp in a probably 3,800 lb.-4,200 car was equivalent, power-to-weight-wise, to a current era mid-sized car with a 180-200 hp four-cylinder. Most run-of-the-mill 1960s-era cars were not fire-breathing big block muscle cars. Even though V-8s were common, most were not high-performance. And even muscle cars were not all that powerful or that quick. Most ran mid-low 15 second quarter-miles. A current year Camry V-6 can do that.

            Point the third: There were also a fair number of economy-minded small cars (and economy-minded engines) years before CAFE was even heard of. Beetles, Ford Falcons, the Chevy Corvair, Dodge Dart. Pontiac even offered an OHC inline six in the 1967-’69 Firebird. It was the first American production car to offer such an engine.

            Point the fourth: By 1980, as a result chiefly of gas price fluctuations, the average car was much smaller and lighter – and so, could get by with a much smaller, far less powerful engine. A 1980 K-Car that weighed 2,500 lbs. did not need more than 80 hp to be drivable. And it was just as driveable – in terms of acceleration/top-speed – as the average overweight/under-powered boat of the late 1960s.

            As always, Clover, your command of the Troof is something to behold.

          • BrentP
            January 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm

            Wow. Just wow. Clover, is everything you spew just based on your feelings, limited personsal experience, and mainstream media?

            Just because you decided to buy a different kind of car in 1981 than you had at some point before then doesn’t matter. It’s irrelevant.

            The 1981 Ford Mustang had the SAME 200cid inline 6 available that was available on it in 1965.
            Both made around 85hp SAE net. The ’81 had a slight decrease for emission controls but they were essentially the same engines.

            This is just one model of many from the big 3 that used the same engines before and after the NMSL.

            The real meaning of your post is that when you started driving you could afford a 275hp (SAE gross, I’m sure) car and in 1981 you couldn’t.

          • clover
            January 28, 2012 at 2:53 am

            Sorry guys. Excuuuse me. I could care less if the 275 hp rated car was actually only 190 hp or 200 hp or whatever. That is till well over twice the hp as the car I was driving in 81 so who cares? My point was that there were far many lower powered vehicles in the early 80s than in the early 70s. I could care less if you say there was some lower powered cars before the 70s. The fact is that there were far many more in the late 70s and the 80s. The average mpg across the country also showed it.

          • January 28, 2012 at 7:13 am

            Of course, Clover – because you don’t care about facts. Or logic. Or reason. 190 hp in a 3,600 lb. car is the same, in terms of power-to-weight, as your 80 hp in a 2,200 lb. car.

            Poor ol’ Clover.

          • BrentP
            January 28, 2012 at 4:20 am

            Clover, Ford made 579,000 1970 Mavericks alone. The 1970 Maverick was only available as 2dr with 170cid and 200cid inline 6 cylinder engines. (same engine in the 1981 mustang, fairmont, etc)

            Then in early 70s there were pintos, vegas, novas, darts, and countless other cars. Not to mention the datsuns, toyotas, mazdas, hondas, etc. Even most of the large sleds and intermediates came with 6cylinder 1bbl carb engines standard.

            Just because you are ignorant of something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

        • joeallen
          March 19, 2013 at 11:57 am

          Aaahhh, but if you went at 0 mph, you would get infinite fuel economy. Fill it up once in a lifetime. Clovers would love that!! The govvies would love that! What’s that? You wouldn’t get anywhere? That’s beside the point.

          And those Omni 024 and TC3s were among the sweetest looking cars ever made.

          • March 19, 2013 at 12:01 pm

            Yup!

            In re the Omni 024 and its kin: They were so light and agile relative to the blunderbusses being sold today as “compacts.” I just finished test-driving the 2013 VW Beetle and the car weighs almost 3,100 lbs. My ’76 Trans-Am with a massive 7.4 liter cast iron V-8 is not much heavier than this alleged “compact.”

  2. James
    January 12, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Two numbers-crunching articles, two days in a row. Sir, you are in the zone!

    Another acquaintenance of mine drives a 1982 VW Rabbit diesel. He inherited the car from someone who didn’t take of it. Thus, a bit of TLC was required in order to get the mechanicals back in good nick.

    This 30 year old car, pushing 300K, cramped and noisy, returns 52 – 54 mpg. Consistently.

    I don’t disagree with the prior suggestion that the market wouldn’t flock to uber-efficient slugs in large numbers. Since we don’t have the CHOICE to trade safety for efficiency, though (the point of Eric’s article) such suggestions are purely academic.

  3. swamprat
    January 12, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    The 55 mph speed limit? Ugh. The nightmares are getting down to about once every other day now. I would say that Eric’s assessment is correct. Interstates are moving about 10 mph faster than they were back in 1986. Secondary highways are moving about 5 mph faster, although in many states speed limits are around 65 mph. In Texas, many secondaries outside major metro areas are 70 mph. People seem to go about 65-70 on those.

    There is no doubt that the fuel economy would be better if cars shed weight. When I was in Europe about 25 years ago, I drove a Fiat Panda at nearly triple digit speeds (150 kph) and returned 40+ mpg after making the conversions. If I had kept to the 80 mph speed limit, it would likely have been high 40’s to low 50’s. The car weighted close to nothing and you couldn’t really feel the speed.

    We are getting shortchanged here in the states, but so might the Europeans.

    • BrentP
      January 12, 2012 at 4:09 pm

      What do you mean remember? NE Illinois is still in the Nixon era speed limit wise. Just about nobody obeys it though. It is common to see Illinois state troopers running 90-100mph for no particular reason.

      I don’t think these early 80s cars will be just a few simple mods away from incredible mpg. It can be done, it just won’t be simple.

      Fbodies, mustangs, and many other older cars have far greater parts swapping ability than these old compacts and subcompacts. Newer transmissions won’t bolt up, TBs from the junkyard will have to be home engineered because the kits were designed for more popular models to modify and so on.

      It might be easier just to replace the entire drivetrain.

    • January 12, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      55 was absurd – the current 65-70 (typical) is merely silly.

      As you know, the Interstates were laid out assuming average 70-75 MPH speeds – more than 50 years ago!

      In a modern car (assuming a competent driver) 90-100 MPH would be a reasonable limit. That is, the upper maximum speed, when conditions and so on are acceptable.

      The idea that 70 or 75 is the maximum reasonably safe speed on an Interstate highway is almost too stupid to even state out loud. As we all know, it’s the typical average speed of traffic. And a limit, properly defined, is not the same thing as the average speed of traffic.

      • January 12, 2012 at 10:40 pm

        If only we had a nation of intelligent, non-distracted, conscientious drivers. I’m about to take a round-trip into the belly of the beast. Wish me luck …

        • January 13, 2012 at 1:05 am

          DC?

          God help you, if that’s where you’re headed!

          • January 13, 2012 at 3:08 pm

            Thx! NYC/Metro. Escaped unscathed, to fight another day.

          • January 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm

            Been there/done that!

            My experience: NYC is preferable to the DC Beltway or urban/suburban Atlanta, where the drivers are addled and inept. At least Noo Yoikers seem to be awake and interested in getting there today sometime…

          • Boothe
            January 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm

            I was staying at a hotel in Queens a few years ago and the clerk asked if I’d seen Manhattan yet. I asked her if the buildings I could see on the skyline were Manhattan and she said “yeah”. I responded “Okay I’ve seen Manhattan.” Just from what my friends from NYC told me I knew better than to even try to drive over there. Glad you made it out alive, MPG. ;)

          • Boothe
            January 13, 2012 at 6:41 pm

            @Eric “At least Noo Yoikers seem to be awake and interested in getting there today sometime…”

            Hve you ever been on the Van Wyck at “rush” hour? I don’t know why they call it an expressway, in my experience it’s more like a long parking lot…..

          • January 13, 2012 at 7:47 pm

            Yeah!

            Ever tried the DC Beltway around 5:30 in the afternoon? Or I-66 eastbound around 8 in the morning?

            brrrrrrrrr!

          • mithrandir
            January 14, 2012 at 2:02 am

            In NYC you sometimes might make better time on local roads versus the expressway/parkway.

        • mithrandir
          January 13, 2012 at 2:48 pm

          The beltway is similar to an accordion (stop/go) at rush hour which lasts more than one hour.

          We can help to improve the situation one driver at a time. If you have kids or relatives learning to drive, help them become better drivers.

    • JC
      January 22, 2012 at 5:35 am

      Interesting aside….I have noticed in the last few weeks that the speed limits have been raised on most of the Austin area limited access roads. I guess the number of people bitching about the toll roads and Austin being the third most congested city in the U.S. had some effect. Of course, that changes nothing about the general level of driver competence or people obstructing traffic flow by driving like nimrods in the passing lane….

      • clover
        January 22, 2012 at 9:08 pm

        There is only one problem with increasing speeds on congested roads. Increased speeds do not help one bit and actually make congestion worse. Think about it. If you double the speed you need to at least double the distance between cars to keep your 2 or 3 second separation. That means you can have fewer cars on the road at one time and still be classified as congested with a lot of braking and acceleration which when that happens it causes stop and go traffic. If during a period when there is usually stop and go driving if they decreased the speeds in half the traffic flow would actually improve and would be far less stop and go.

        • January 22, 2012 at 9:13 pm

          Ah, Clover – you never disappoint!

          Soon we will have a special new feature on EPautos just for you.

        • Brent P
          January 22, 2012 at 9:56 pm

          Well clover, now I know you’ve never studied engineering.

          The reason we get road congestion on limited access highways is because qin > qout. Spacing between vehicles only reduces the storage term. Because as the number of vehicles on the road increases, spacing and speed decreases, spacing due to higher speeds is not a relevant factor. When qin > qout speeds decrease to store more vehicles in the system.

          What must be done is keep qout >= qin. The slower the initial speed, the more difficult and improbable maintaining this condition becomes.

          Dynamically lower speeds can reduce qin to specific choke points but run the risk of simply moving the congestion elsewhere if it drops the qout of that other section too low.

          • clover
            January 27, 2012 at 1:00 am

            brent I know more about engineering than you ever will. Why is it that all larger cities around the world have slower speed limits next to and through large cities? It is because lower speeds are better when there are more cars. A road capable of having 100 cars on it at a fast speed can have 200 cars on it at lower speeds with the same minimum distance/speed. If you have 150 people that want to be on the road at the same time and the speeds are fast, those 50 drivers would be stopped at the on ramp and when they eventually try to squeeze in, the other drivers hit their brakes and start the stop and go driving problem. Those same 50 drivers that try to get on a slower road would easily have enough room to merge on the road and slow no one. Which group gets there first? If you follow the standard 2 or 3 second travel distance then cars are still leaving a given point every 2 or 3 seconds no matter how fast they are driving. What it amounts to is that faster is not better if there are a lot of cars trying to drive on the same road.

          • January 27, 2012 at 11:01 am

            “brent I know more about engineering than you ever will”

            Oh, now you’ve gone and ruined my shirt. Please, tell us of your engineering background. You’ve already revealed such mastery of engineering concepts here. We are waiting with proverbial baited breath.

          • Tor Munkov
            January 27, 2012 at 9:13 am

            The idea that a bunch of road signs do anything useful is ridiculous. It is road engineering by private construction companies that make a difference. Signs are a state tool to extract rent and keep the public alarmed at all times that they may be caged or fined for breaking THE LAW.

            Did you know England had an effective car prohibition for 31 years?

            Here is their LAW: Locomotive act of 1865 (Red Flag Act)

            The speed limit is hereby set at 4 mph in the country and 2 mph in towns. All self propelled vehicles require a duly licensed driver, stoker, and flag man at all times. The walking flag man must carry a red flag or lantern 60 yards ahead of the vehicle and warn pedestrians and horseman of the approaching self propelled vehicle.

          • January 27, 2012 at 10:50 am

            Exactly. Take speed limit signs. Ostensibly, a speed limit refers to a maximum safe speed; that is, a physical limit, a speed that correlates to the physical limits of machine or man or road. An extreme of velocity. But in practice, speed limits are political constructs – just a number pulled out of someone’s ass and plastered on a sign. Everyone, other than Clovers, knows this. Hence, speed limit signs are almost universally ignored. Which eliminats any useful purpose they might have served as a warning about maximum velocities, etc.

          • BrentP
            January 27, 2012 at 2:32 pm

            Clover, quite simply you don’t understand engineering and can never do so because you ‘feel’ instead of using rational and logical thought. Furthermore repeating the same premise is not a rebuttal.

            The world is not static, you cannot make it static. All the guns in the world turned on your neighbors won’t make it so.

            Your restated incorrect premise is that of a rolling parking lot. So long as you cannot maintain qout >= qin you will end up with congestion. Speeds vary depending upon the number of vehicles in the storage term (st), that is on the road.

            In a simple way, ignoring how qout changes as st increases:

            st2 = st1 +(qin-qout)*t

            where st1 is the number of vehicles on the road at time = 0 and st2 is the number of vehicles on the road at time=t.

            Since speeds continually drop as st increases, the number of vehicles the road can hold in storage is not effected by the speed limit. To properly express this calculus is required. as speeds decrease qout drops. qin can be assumed to be static for a small enough time, t.

            Essentially, a higher speed increases qout. The longer qout remains above qin the later the road starts having an increasing storage of vehicles. The later a road starts storing vehicles it can actually remain moving long enough that it doesn’t saturate before qin starts falling.

            Yes, I realize this is above your head.

          • clover
            January 28, 2012 at 3:18 am

            Sorry Brent but you are wrong again. The only way to increase Q out as you call it on a road that has the limit of vehicles it can handle is to decrease the time and distance between vehicles if you keep your high speeds. Instead of having 2 or 3 seconds between vehicle you have less than one second. You can call it tailgating. Use your brain. To increase the number of vehicles leaving a highway during a time period you need to decrease the distance between vehicles. Increasing speeds do nothing on a crowded road except keep more people on the on ramp. You think of a road as one place in and one place out. During rush hour you have dozens of ins. The only way you can prevent stop and go driving when a road is overcrowded is to slow down to decrease the distance between vehicles to allow more cars on the road at once. If there is only one exit then the fastest they can leave the road is at the recommended 2 second distance or more. At high speeds that 2 seconds or more increases the distance a lot therefore decreasing the numbers of cars that are capable of being on the road at one time. When roads are crowded and drivers try to enter on ramps they need to try to merge. The only way they are able to merge on a crowded road is to have vehicles in the right lane to move over and merge with cars in the left lanes. When all this happens only one thing will eventually occur and that is stop and go driving. If cars had been driving at slower speeds to begin with then the road would be far more capable of holding more cars because there would be a decrease in distance needed between vehicles and therefore leave more room for cars to merge without interrupting traffic flow.

          • dom
            January 28, 2012 at 3:39 am

            @Clover

            I think you are plagiarizing. On a bright note, your writing style has improved and I can follow what you’re saying!

          • BrentP
            January 28, 2012 at 4:07 am

            Clover, the telling sign of a stupid person is one who is both ignorant and arrogant at the same time. As you say I am wrong and demonstrate your ignorance repeatedly… well…

            qout is determined by speed. following distance is determined by storage term. If the storage term is too high speed is lowered and qout suffers.

            If speed is sufficiently high, the storage term does not increase. Spacing remains long.

            I have explained this whole process to you repeatedly yet you still can’t grasp it.

            Of course you can take the possibility other than stupidity, dishonesty. As you have clearly decided to try and place high speed on to a road where the storage term has already gone too high. This I must say is something a dishonest person would do in a debate.

            The point is to keep the storage term such that it does not reach those levels. I made that clear previously. So clover, if you are going to persist, at least debate in an honest and intelligent manner.

          • BrentP
            January 28, 2012 at 6:06 am

            Clover, declaration is not debate. While that may work other places, it won’t work here. This is more intelligent, rational, and logical crowd. You can’t play to the cheers of the ignorant here.

            I have simplified the math as much as possible for you. I even removed the calculus. You still fail to understand.

            I have math. You have feelings and declaration. I’ll let the readers decide which is better.

          • clover
            January 28, 2012 at 2:05 pm

            Brent, I do not know how to explain things more easily. Put a bunch of pennies on the table and work it out yourself. As an example spread them out in a line from one end of the table to the other. With 5 inches apart representing a high speed 2 second interval. What happens when you try to add a penny in the middle of the pack? The answer is that you either have to decrease the distance behind that penny when it is added making the separation between them more dangerous or slow down the pennies behind the added one. The speed that the pack was traveling before the penny was added makes no difference except for the fact that if they had been traveling slower then the 5 inches of separation would then in our example represent 4 seconds in distance. When you try to add the penny with the slower speeds you can easily add the penny anywhere in the pack and still keep a 2 second minimum spacing. The penny at the end of the pack did not have to change speed and a minimum 2 second interval was kept without causing any slowing down of any of the other pennies.

          • BrentP
            January 28, 2012 at 4:45 pm

            Clover, are you just trying to wear me down by repeating the same thing over and over and over again or is that you lack the ability to understand anything more than a static condition?

            I am growing tired of finding ways to explain this to you. Imagine that the vehicles are heat. The insulation value of a building represents how fast the vehicles may travel. The building represents the road.

            Imagine you have a crappy space heater and no insulation. qin is very much smaller than qout and heat rapidly leaves the building never building up in it.

            Now imagine you have a giant blast furnace. Now even through heat can still leave quickly, heat builds up because it is coming in way faster than it can escape.

            Now insulate the building. Now you have lots of heat entering and very little leaving. It gets very hot.

            Stop insulating the road with low speeds and congestion will be less prevalent because vehicles will leave as fast as they enter. When you insulate the road you need smaller spacing and bigger roads to hold more and more vehicles on it. It’s stupid. It’s a reason making a road wider has limited success. The real problem wasn’t addressed, the road was just made to hold more vehicles. As soon as the area grows a little more the road is once again at saturation.

          • January 28, 2012 at 5:38 pm

            “Clover, are you just trying to wear me down by repeating the same thing over and over and over again.. ”

            That’s it, in a nutshell.

            Notice that he never directly addresses any factual rebuttals; he just goes off on another (emoting/feeling) tangent.

            It is not possible to have a reasonable discussion with an unreasonable person.

          • clover
            January 28, 2012 at 6:22 pm

            Brent, I will try one last time. If you are traveling down the road the minimum recommended traveling distance between vehicles is 2 seconds. Any closer than that and you are definitely tailgating which even Eric says is wrong and dangerous. With that fact the best case of qout as you say is one car every 2 seconds for each lane. At 75 mph that comes to 220 feet of space between vehicles. At 55 mph that comes to 161.33 feet between vehicles. What this says is that for a given distance of roadway it will hold a lot more cars traveling 55 mph with a 2 second distance between them than driving at 75 mph. The cars will in fact have the same qout of one car every 2 seconds. Which part of this do you not understand or disagree with? I can not debate with you as you say without knowing what fact you disagree with.

            http://youtu.be/TeTQNrXxmVA

          • methylamine
            January 28, 2012 at 6:36 pm

            brent I know more about engineering than you ever will.

            And in the ensuing discussion, reveal you know absolutely nothing about engineering, much less about primary calculus or differential equations.

            In fact that’s a problem endemic to clovers; they see the world as static. Congress-whores levy a “luxury tax” on cars, expecting (S * P) = R (S, sales, P, percent, R, revenue) to arise from this little tax. Ah–but luxury-car buyers buy fewer cars…so much so that when this was tried in the 90’s on yachts, yacht-makers went out of business and it resulted in a net tax LOSS. But the dynamics are invisible to the clover brain.

            Just so, in this argument you, clover, continually appeal to an arithmetic argument–right down to the cute pennies-on-a-table example, ignoring the dynamics of the situation.

            Guess what–the traffic situation is a rate of change problem. It’s not amenable to linear equations.

            Did you even TAKE calculus? DiffEq? Vector? Because if you did, you should review. Thoroughly.

            And yet; you rule the world with your idiot ilk for you simply outnumber…and out-vote…your betters.

          • clover
            January 28, 2012 at 6:42 pm

            methylamine, which part of this did you disagree with? I guess you want less than 2 seconds between vehicle and travel at a high speed? Can you say dangerous? How about switching lanes? You would rather have high speeds with lane changes of less than 2 seconds? Yes that is how major accidents happen.

          • BrentP
            January 28, 2012 at 7:21 pm

            Clover, I have lost patience with you.

            I understand following distance quite well, and repeating over and over and over again what your PE teacher told you between blood on the highway films in driver’s ed is -NOT- the argument here. Shove your authoritarian government childish simplifications up where the sun doesn’t shine and your head resides.

            It is not my fault you cannot understand basic engineering principles regarding rates and storage terms.

            This is not about maintaining spacing. It’s about maintaining FLOW. When your spacing declines, speed declines, flow rate declines. GET IT?

            Another analogy in hopes you can figure this out. Take two funnels. Both of the same volume. One with a bigger hole than the other. Put both in equal sized jars.

            The speed is what gravity. We are going hold this constant.

            Now take two jars filled with very small ball bearings. Poor the ball bearings in to each funnel at the rate where they fall straight through the big funnel. Note how in the big funnel there is no decrease in following distance and no congestion. Notice how in the small funnel the bearings are bunching up and storing themselves in the funnel.

            Keep pouring at the same rate. The small funnel overflows. The big one keeps flowing.

            Get it now?

            Following distance is related to the number of vehicles stored on the road. The goal is to STOP STORING VEHICLES ON THE ROAD!!!!!!!!!!! It is achieved by making qout >= qin. Free flowing so that you never have vehicles build up on the road such that spacing decreases.

            Decreased spacing is a result, not a cause!

            Dammit. with people like you no wonder this country has 8 lane highways that flow worse than a converted 17th century cart path in Germany. Stupid fetishes and phobias and control freak notions about speed you clover-americans have.

          • clover
            January 28, 2012 at 7:39 pm

            Sorry Brent but without you telling me where my facts that I present are incorrect we will agree to disagree. A road is not like a funnel. You can not increase the number of cars leaving a given point by more than one every 2 seconds unless as you say you increase the hole or in the case of a roadway that equates to more lanes.

          • clover
            January 28, 2012 at 8:19 pm

            It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again….

          • clover
            January 28, 2012 at 11:54 pm

            BrentP, I have a question. Who is the Duke of New York? Who is A Number One?

          • dom
            January 29, 2012 at 12:22 am

            @Clover

            Just give it up already mang! Dang bro. Nobody cares about what you are selling. We understand you are an expert on everything. Find somewhere else to visit on the web. Seriously, enough is enough dood!

          • clover
            January 29, 2012 at 1:21 am

            OK Dom, I get it. Some people just believe everything they read rather than using facts that are commonly available. Yes there are people that believe the moon is made of cheese because they read it somewhere. Facts are irrelevant. I will leave him alone he can keep believing what your group tells him to believe and repeat. I guess I had heard what he has been saying over and over. It does not mean it is so.

  4. swamprat
    January 12, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    I am waiting for some enterprising sort to gather a bunch of Old VIN plates at a junkyard and begin restoring some of those flyweights. There’s no economy of scale… yet.

  5. Eric_G
    January 12, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    My first enjoyable car was an ’89 Subaru XT. It had a flat four, 5 speed (5th was an overdrive gear IIRC), and manual push-button 4wd. Gas mileage was usually 45+ in the spring and fall, dropped a little when the AC was running, and went to hell when in four wheel drive.

    If I was running on empty I could lift up the back end by myself (but I was in much better shape then).

    I just ordered an Audi A3 TDI. We’ll see how it does, but I know for sure I won’t be picking up the back of this one, no matter how much fuel’s in the tank.

  6. RG
    January 12, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    The 2012 Camry has a driver airbag, passenger airbag, two curtain airbags, two knee airbags, and eight seat airbags. Total weight? Less than 12 kg (26 lbs). Are you suggesting that my fluctuating waistline is also to blame?

    C’mon Eric you’re better than this drivel.

    • January 12, 2012 at 8:48 pm

      Well, you left out all the steel that’s necessary to comply with federal crash-test standards. No small thing.

      The weight is more an issue with compact and subcompact cars – which are harder to make “safe” (meet federal standards) without making them heavier. The Camry is a mid-sized car, so it’s inherently safer (because larger/heavier) than a compact or subcompact.

      The Camry’s six air bags also fatten up the price of the car – and the cost to insure the car (because of the higher cost to repair the car if you get into a wreck).

      It’s hard to get a definitive number on the cost of all these air bags as far as how much they add to the bottom line price of a new car. But it’s pretty easy to quantify the expense of replacing them (along with the entire steering wheel and dashboard – and that’s just the front two bags) in the event of a deployment. Depending on the car, it can easily run to $2,000 just to replace the dual front air bags and steering wheel/dash/other parts that are destroyed when the bags deploy. This is before you start worrying about body damage.

      So, it’s much easier to get to the point that the cost to repair the car is too high proportionate to the value of the car.

      Screw air bags. I don’t want them, yet if I want a late model car, I’m forced to buy them.

      That’s un-American.

      If you want air bags, you should be able to buy air bags at whatever the market price happens to be.

      Those of us who don;t want air bags should similarly be free to say, No Thanks.

      That’s how it was when these damn things first appeared in the early ’70s. Of course, few people were interested in them. So naturally, government made them mandatory.

      • RG
        January 12, 2012 at 10:04 pm

        I didn’t leave out the steel – you’re article above did. You led your leaders to believe it was federally mandated airbag requirements (a 3 lb. regualtion) that added significant weight to the vehicle. I realize body panel weight increases are a majority of the crash test rating race that has led to lower MPGs, but I would guess most of your readers don’t. Just be more careful. When people read your article then go out and find out what you wrote was misleading, you’ll turn them off to the good stuff. I don’t want that to happen.
        The federal gov’t requires a driver side and passenger side airbag. The airbag preceeded federal regulation – as innovations always do – and I agree that it should be the consumer’s choice to have them or not. The cost of putting them in the vehicle is irrelevant if no one wants to pay the price for them. Right or wrong, though, consumers have consistently looked to NHTSA crash ratings, as well as independent crash ratings providers, to help make vehicle purchase decisions. I believe the safety craze that has led to increased vehicle weight IS consumer driven. There is an argument in there about what has caused consumers to be crazy about 5 star crash ratings, but the CAFE regs vs. Safety regs is a red herring.

        There are 14 total airbags on a 2012 Camry: 1 DAB, 1 PAB (as federally required), 2 CSABs, 2 KABs, and 8 SABs.

      • clover
        January 14, 2012 at 12:42 am

        I guess some are worried about the cost of replacing air bags when they deploy. One question, what is the cost of a couple of weeks of hospitalization for not having air bags? I would guess that the $2,000 would hardly be a down payment for the costs.

        • BrentP
          January 14, 2012 at 2:06 am

          Clover, airbags are something your kind has forced on everyone to protect those who don’t want to protect themselves by putting on a seatbelt.

          Seat belts and steel. That’s how you survive. Race cars don’t use airbags. Why? Race car drivers use the superior safety equipment. Airbags are complicated and expensive. I’d rather spend that money on a really good seat and a racing harness. Your government doesn’t allow for that.

          Airbags serve some purpose in a side impact where there is little crush distance, but that’s about it.

          • clover
            January 14, 2012 at 2:21 am

            OK BrentP. You say that race cars do not have air bags and are safe? How many people do you know that have roll cages and where helmets and have some very strict safety standards that they must follow? They do wear seat belts and they are far better than in any passenger car! If you got all people to do everything that race car drivers do in their race cars then air bags would not be needed. Do you know any drivers that do that in private passenger cars?

          • January 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm

            Clovers, the debate is not about seat belts vs. air bags vs. roll cages. It is simply this: Other people’s “safety” (as defined by you) is none of your damn business.

            You have every right to live your life according to whatever standard makes sense to you. If you want to drive buckled up, in a car with air bags, I would never try to interfere with your choice to do so. The problem with your type is you’re not content to live – and let live. You have an inner need to force others to live as you think they should. And you’re literally willing to have this done to others at gunpoint.

            Which makes you a thug.

          • BrentP
            January 14, 2012 at 3:33 pm

            Clover, first there’s a big difference between government standards (street cars) and private standards (race cars). Two, we are talking about occupant restraints not additional structure (roll cages). three, your kind is always trying to force helmets on people for things you feel are unsafe like bicycling. (yet bicycling is safer head injury wise than driving or climbing stairs but clovers do those things so no helmet movement there)

            And yes clover, some people do put harnesses in their cars. not allowed by the federal government. The feds forced ferrari to remove them 20 years ago. Anyway look at the optional reccaro seats for all levels of 2013 mustang. Harness ready. The point is for people to choose, not answering diversionary questions justifying each and every possible choice to you.

          • clover
            January 22, 2012 at 4:36 am

            Brent tell that one to a classmate of mine that got in a bicycle accident. I have not kept up with his progress since high school but he was mentally not capable of much after the accident. I would say it is fine for you not to have a helmet and be hit by a car. A car driven by what you say are poor drivers on our roadways. I just do not want to see a kid that knows no better to get injured as my fellow classmate.

          • BrentP
            January 22, 2012 at 5:24 am

            Clover, it is not a magic hat. It is a piece of styrofoam under a vacuum formed plastic shell. It is rated for a six foot drop. I’m over six feet tall. That means just falling over I exceed the helmet’s abilities. Hit by a car is so far over it’s capacity it is pointless. Furthermore statistically speaking I have more of a chance of a head injury while driving or climbing stairs than I do bicycling. Nobody tells me to wear a foam hat for those activities.

            That’s what happens when you feel instead of think. You get things all wrong.

          • clover
            January 22, 2012 at 9:18 pm

            So BRENT from what you just told me you would be killed if you fell off a bike, helmet or no helmet? I doubt it. I guess if we used your logic we should not wear seat belts either because if we got hit by a car head on at 65 mph it would not help. Yes safety devices never stop 100% of injuries but if they help 30% of the time or more would you say they are worthless? I do not understand your logic.

          • January 22, 2012 at 11:44 pm

            It’s not up to you to decide for others, Clover. Of course, you’d never try to decide for others on your own. You’re too much of a coward. You like to stand behind the legs of Big Brother and get him to do your bullying for you. I’d love for you to come to my house and try to make me wear my seat belt – just me and you.

            What a sad creature you are.

          • clover
            January 25, 2012 at 1:45 am

            Yes Eric it is not up to me to save you but at least we can do something to help kids that do not know anything about politics to be safe.

        • mithrandir
          January 14, 2012 at 2:14 am

          I think Eric’s point is that he would like the option to make/have the choice of putting something in his car.

          There are cost/benefit analysis made with many decisions today. The black box from an airplane is built to be practically indestructible. Why do companies not build the rest of the airplane in a similar manner? (short answer: It costs too much.)

          • January 14, 2012 at 11:45 am

            Exactly.

            I’ve got no problem with air bags. My problem is with being de facto forced to buy them because some Clovers feel insecure without them and therefore pass laws that everyone must have (and buy) them.

            My “safety” is my business. But that’s a concept no Clover will ever comprehend.

          • Gil
            January 22, 2012 at 2:24 am

            Gee mirthr is a plane supposed to be aerodyanic or something like that? You do understand why that black box anecdote is always found in the joke pages, right?

          • Gil
            January 22, 2012 at 4:35 am

            . . . aerodynamic . . .

      • joeallen
        March 19, 2013 at 12:07 pm

        My sister in Indiana is a nurse who tells me she is seeing more older people being injured severely by the exploding airbags than the actual collision would have caused. The bags themselves cause more injury than they prevent, especially on older people.

        • March 19, 2013 at 12:19 pm

          This problem is going to become more evident as the vehicle fleet ages. The first generation air bag-equipped cars (early-mid 1990s) are now 20 years old; there are millions of air bag equipped cars fifteen years or older out there. No one really knows whether age and wear and tear will result in unexpected deployments (or failure to deploy when the bags should). At least one manufacturer – Land Rover – recommends the entire SRS system be overhauled (including new bags, accelerometers and so on) after 12 years in service. But this is a job that involves several thousand dollars’ worth of parts and labor. Who is going to spend say $3,000 to rehab the SRS system in a vehicle worth maybe $7,000 by then?

          What about liability? If you’re driving along in your 15 year old car and the SRS system faults – and the bag deploys and you lose control of the car and wreck (to say nothing of any injuries directly caused by the bag’s deployment) who pays?

          • BrentP
            March 19, 2013 at 5:31 pm

            Airbag fault deployments should be very rare even with advanced age of the systems. The systems may fault to a non-operational condition hence the reccomendations for replacement, but suddenly going off should be very rare.

            The replacement of parts is probably recommended to keep the system such that it will work when needed rather than to prevent deployments in error. If the FMEA and accelerated life testing was done correctly deployments from faults should be very rare.

          • March 19, 2013 at 5:41 pm

            I’ve decided to disable the ones in my ’98. Easy enough to do – and get away with, where we live.

            Throw air bags in the woods!

  7. John
    January 12, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    I work out of a 1980 rabbit diesel pickup. I have a shell on it and loaded down with tools. Gets about 40 mpg. Converted to run on WVO. Easy to work on, parts easy to come by for the most part. I love it. I’d buy a new one for sure. I think VW still makes them in South Africa.

    John

  8. January 12, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    In your recent post, “How Not To Save Money,” you made it very clear that one’s gas expenses don’t reflect a huge annual savings at 50 mpg compared to 35mpg. It takes a lot of years of driving to add up to a significant difference.

    Thanks to the education you supplied in that column, I can make the informed statement that I will gladly pay the relatively small annual increase in gas cost in order to drive in a modern mid 30s mpg car with all the safety features and their attendant weight.

    Thanks for putting things into perspective. ;-)

    • January 13, 2012 at 1:05 am

      It does depend on what you value most – or more.

      Ideally, we’d all be free to choose what we want – as opposed to being forced to buy what some other people (in government) tell us we must have.

      • clover
        January 14, 2012 at 12:58 am

        Yes Eric ideally it would be nice to decide for yourself. We do not live an ideal world. In an ideal world we would not have accidents and thus need air bags and crash standards. Name me one car manufacturer that would boast at selling the worst car crash standards of all leading manufacturers and thus saving you one or two hundred bucks?

        • BrentP
          January 14, 2012 at 2:25 am

          Companies that have boasted about safety before federal requirements include:
          Tucker (1940s), Volvo (1950s), and Ford (1950s).

          There have been other individual inventions that automakers have advertised for safety back into the 1930s and prior.

          The buying public on the other hand often didn’t reward these efforts until Chrysler in the 1980s. Since then, they have all boasted about their safety performance. It’s been a selling point since then and now will be forever.

          As you stated, no automaker is going to boast about skimping on safety which makes government standards moot. Unnecessary.

          Would a cheap car at 1980s crash standards be sell-able? certainly. Eric isn’t asking for an unsafe car, he’s asking for one at a very reasonable balance of safety and economy. One that can no longer be sold because of the federal government. This balance point should be our personal choice and the market without interference can provide such varied choices that just about everyone can get close to what he wants.

          It is only when the market is distorted by regulation, monetary policy, trade policy and so forth that choices become severely limited.

          • January 14, 2012 at 11:42 am

            Marc’s suggestion about a light, simple, rotary-powered car is along the lines I was thinking about.

            Sure, people – Clovers – have been conditioned to worship “safety” uber alles. But economic reality is stronger than conditioning. More and more people simply can’t afford a new car. And each new mandate makes new cars more expensive. Also, usually, heavier – and thus less efficient.

            A POS like the original Yugo or the first Hyundai Excel would not sell. But a well-built, reliable – and appealing little car like the old Beetle would, I suspect.

            Imagine the old Beetle built using modern manufacturing techniques. Same body, just much better fit/finish. Same engine, just built to tighter tolerances, and instead of a Solex carburetor, a simple TBI unit. Pair the engine with a five-speed transaxle (overdrive fifth). Disc brakes, but no ABS. No air bags, either.

            Given that Nissan can sell a Versa for $10k, surely it is possible to sell a car such as the above for around $8k.

            Do you think it would sell?

            I sure as hell do!

          • clover
            January 22, 2012 at 4:29 am

            Brent you have read other posts than I have. Eric is surely for an unsafe car. Of course he would say have those pay more to get any safety devices which of course would cost more because it is cheaper to build them all the same. Eric is against seat belts, against air bags, against any crash protection added to vehicles. I guess his option would be a motorcycle which does not have any of those.

          • January 22, 2012 at 3:23 pm

            Clover, I’m against being forced to buy (and use) that which I judge I do not need. So, yes, I am “against” being forced to buy air bags (if I want a car that’s not at least 15 years old or older) and I don’t wear a seat belt because I judge my risk profile to be very low, based on the fact that I haven’t wrecked a car since 1987 (and I was unbuckled in that one and walked away from it).

            Most of all, I piss on you and those like you who have the effrontery to try to tell me (and others) what to do – but who are also pussies, because you get the government to do your bullying for you.

          • clover
            January 22, 2012 at 9:30 pm

            Eric it is not always a government law stating that cars have some of the safety devices that they do have. In fact if the government laws were removed today I would doubt if there would be any changes made to the way they build cars today. I doubt if any manufacturer would want to try to sell cars any more that are rated so poorly over other manufacturers.

          • January 22, 2012 at 10:54 pm

            Well, Clover, then why not get the government out of the business of mandating such things and let the market – that is, the people buying the cars – decide?

          • clover
            January 24, 2012 at 12:44 am

            You know Eric it is because people are stupid is why we need government minimum requirements. Again did you hear what I said, minimum requirements. Many if not all manufacturers beat those. I have heard dozens of people say they are incapable of accidents. That is not true at all. You said yourself that you have been in two accidents and your wife at least one fairly large one. That is two people that you know very well have had them. That is 100% of your family. Incapable? You are so good you can avoid some drunk coming the other way over the hill in the middle of the road or mostly on your side while you are driving your 75 mph? I would bet out of the thousands of people that got into accidents last year would have said they do not get into accidents. I bet that 100s of them that were not wearing seat belts and got killed said they did not get into accidents.

          • January 24, 2012 at 10:23 am

            “You know Eric it is because people are stupid is why we need government minimum requirements.”

            I’m not even going to try to educate someone who hasn’t yet mastered junior high level English grammar.

          • That One Guy
            January 24, 2012 at 1:42 am

            Clover-

            Intoxicated driving and excessive speed still exist despite laws against such.

            How is this possible? According to you, people should consider themselves safe from drunk and fast drivers forevermore simply because laws exist prohibiting them.

            What went wrong here?

          • dom
            January 24, 2012 at 1:49 am

            @That One Guy

            You obviously don’t understand the first thing about clover logic! Which is that it makes no damn sense whatsoever.

          • Gil
            January 24, 2012 at 2:12 am

            Or better TOG- they’re psychopaths. People are driving with callous disregard for the safety of others. If these people lost control, crashed into another car, killing the other person – would they give a toss? Nah. Their life will carry on as if nothing happened.

          • That One Guy
            January 24, 2012 at 2:18 am

            It’s part of my new drive to be optimistic. I hold out hope that one day one of these guys is going to attempt a coherent statement to explain his ideas rather than do a drive-by-shitting.

            Should know better though…optimism must take care not to become naivete.

          • That One Guy
            January 24, 2012 at 2:34 am

            Gil-

            The point is that prohibition does not lead to prevention. For further reading, see Volsted Act, War on Drugs, War on Terror…..

            It’s entirely to lose control of your vehicle and crash and kill somebody with no alcohol in your system and traveling at the posted speed limits.

            I am a licensed pilot and have driven a car on the street faster than I’ve flown a plane. Mustang Cobra. Miss that car.

            Anyways, am I more dangerous than the US government that is sabre-rattling in the MidEast trying to drive Iran to war by limiting its ability to export oil?

            There is potential for injury in so many day-to-day activities that it leads the rational to accept that there cannot be any realistic guarantee of safety.

            But when it comes to people who are living their lives in fear of their own shadows…….

          • methylamine
            January 24, 2012 at 3:13 am

            clover sez:

            You know Eric it is because people are stupid is why we need government minimum requirements.

            clover YOU may be stupid. But don’t make the collectivist mistake of lumping me in with YOU. Of course you probably consider yourself gifted; most clovers do. But with hypocritical disdain they consider anyone not in their exalted circle of clovers stupid…it’s the very nature of collectivism.

            And thus, you connive to produce regulations and ordinances to corral the poor cattle you reduce humanity to.

            But you never fucking learn from history! Can you not look up from the latest issue of The New Yorker, pick up a history book, and see the dismal, abominable failure of every collectivist society since the dawn of time?

            I’ll make it easier. Just focus on the last century. Even easier: just look back 22 years to the failure of the Soviet Union, and all their satellites. Christ man, just last month the spectacle of that God-forsaken shithole North Korea was in the news as they mourned that scrofular syphilitic Kim Jong Il! Those people are starving in a land replete with the perversity and horror of collectivism.

            But no; you never see principle. You can never make the simple algebraic leaps of logic–this little law here is emblematic of a larger problem which will come to pass when there are thousands more like it. So let it be, let’s NOT institute this one little law…because its brethren will come a-wing in a locust-swarm of hellish consequences.

            Oh god how I despise your thought process! You and your kind have created so much misery, but you remain oblivious even to your own ignorance-inflicted death.

          • BrentP
            January 24, 2012 at 4:06 am

            Clover, having government because of stupid people can be described with terms like parental, eugenics, and medieval. But worse than that, it breeds more stupid people by making stupid acceptable.

            As to eric’s attitude on seat belts, I actually agree with you here having had encounters with the stupid people your system breeds, but it’s eric’s decision to make for himself.

            There is only one reason for a seat belt law that is valid IMO and it is -never- an official reason for having one. That is as an engineering/equipment requirement to keep the driver behind the wheel after the first impact. However like all equipment requirements it doesn’t have to be a government standard.

          • clover
            January 26, 2012 at 12:06 am

            BrentP, you forget it is because of CAFE standards that we have a very large selection of 40+ mpg vehicles available today in the USA that are still capable to travel our very increased speed zones out in the sticks. Yes before the price of gas goes to 10 bucks and not after. A vast majority of people live for today. They do not study what will happen in the future if we all keep driving 20 mpg vehicles. They buy the car today that they are able to pay the gas for not even thinking that the car will last 15 to 20 years and in that time gas could easily go to 10 to 15 bucks. Yes they like paying less for gas now but those vehicles that they buy now would not have been available.

          • BrentP
            January 26, 2012 at 1:32 am

            Clover, speeds out in the sticks really aren’t all that much higher than they were before the NMSL. High mpg choices have always existed on the market. Just to give one example, the high mpg 1969 Mustang ‘E’. Yes clover, a fuel economy driven mustang model at the height of the horsepower race of the 1960s.

            CAFE is about elimination of all choices that are not high mpg because control freaks like you have decided that how they choose a vehicle must be the way everyone chooses a vehicle.

            As to short term thinking, elected government office holders are the ultimate example of short term thinkers. The next election is usually about their horizon. Looking to them for long term thinking is idiotic. And again, if the goal was to reduce fuel consumption a simple tax on fuel would achieve that. Instead there is the complex CAFE.

            Government’s attempts to manage resources for the ‘future’ fail because those in government have their own motives and a lack of information. They either cause a resource to be over used or neglected. The odds of them getting it right is approximately ZERO.

            “if we all keep driving 20 mpg vehicles” Well, there’s your problem in a nutshell. You can’t think of people as individuals. “we all” never drove the same vehicles. When Nixon’s price controls predictably resulted in a reduced supply of goods like gasoline people began making different choices immediately. The models were on the market waiting for them. Because people never ‘all’ did the same thing.

          • clover
            January 26, 2012 at 3:40 am

            BrentP, where it the heck did you live in the 80s? I know I got a warning ticket for 3 mph over the limit. You either lived out west where there was no enforcement or you have very poor memory. A guy told me he went across Missouri and Kansas back in those days and it took a very long day to do it. I know in the mid-west the 55 mph limit was enforced. I do remember hearing that in a few states out west it was not. I guess we are both partially right depending on where you lived.

            Yes maybe CAFE is not the best way to handle the need to decrease fuel usage. Some countries take care of it by adding a couple of bucks in taxes. That also works but is an added tax for someone that needs to drive a large vehicle to do his job.

            The fact is that if we were getting the same gas mileage as we were in the early 70s then we would not have to worry about it. Gas price would be over 6 bucks a gallon and usage would then decrease. The problem with that solution is that when price increases in a short amount of time you are stuck driving a vehicle with poor mileage for many years after that.

            You can make things up all you want but I look at facts. When millions of cars are added to the world highways then you can not keep using the same amount of fuel in each vehicle. Production can not keep doubling of oil because it is a limited supply if you believe it or not.

          • January 26, 2012 at 2:15 pm

            Clover, Brent didn’t say the 55 MPH limit wasn’t enforced. It was, often viciously. What he did say – and what you ignore (because it blows your argument out of the water) was that it was routinely, almost universally, ignored.

            The fact, Clover, is that average highway speeds are about the same today as they were during the NMSL era. About 70 MPH. The only difference is it’s once again legal (or nearly legal) to drive 70. Back in the Day, people slowed when there was a cop around – and sped right back up as soon as the coast was clear. Drive 55 didn’t save gas – it just created a new pretext for Cloverite traffic laws – and “revenue collection.”

            On CAFE:

            There are only a handful of new cars that get 40 MPG on the highway. And there are also a great many large vehicles that get less than 25 MPG on the highway.

            The fact is, Clover, that the fuel economy capability of the average new vehicle has improved only slightly. And it’s a fact that there were more cars circa 1980 that could get 40 MPG or more on the highway than there are today, 32 years down the road and after multiple CAFE upticks during that time.

            Poor ol’ Clover… life’s just not the same since he retired from the DMV.

          • BrentP
            January 26, 2012 at 6:03 am

            Same county I live in now. Speed limits haven’t changed here since Nixon was in office. So a cop used 3 over a pretext to check your papers… wooptie do da day. Such crap has happened to many of in this forum. You aren’t special and it doesn’t mean there was strict speed limit enforcement.

            Anyway, here:
            http://americanautobahn.piratenews.org/americanautobahng1.jpg

            The 55mph speed limit was always a farce. If it was obeyed in any significant way both lines would be below 55mph.

            “The fact is that if we were getting the same gas mileage as we were in the early 70s” Could I argue how things would be if we still used vacuum tubes? This argument has no merit because it assumes stagnation only achievable via the state.

            “You can make things up all you want but I look at facts.” Stop projecting clover.

            “When millions of cars are added to the world highways then you can not keep using the same amount of fuel in each vehicle. Production can not keep doubling of oil because it is a limited supply if you believe it or not.”

            Clover, repeating what I already knocked down is irritating. Deal with the argument I presented already with regards to this or STFU.

          • clover
            January 26, 2012 at 12:01 pm

            Thanks BrentP. I do not have to worry about libertarianism taking over when I have you to keep preventing it. I like you man. you prove that libertarians use no facts and even make ones up. I am just glad we do not have people like you in charge. We would either be broke and not afford to buy gas or we would be blown up by any enemy you want to allow to do it. You must live by a larger city because that is where speed limits have not changed. I am lucky I do not live by a large city like you do. The kind of people that live there cut in front of you if there is 16 feet of space traveling 65 mph or whatever just to prove they are drivers like you prefer. My insurance rates are far cheaper than where you live because of all of your aggressive drivers in your area. I used to drive more in larger cities in the 80s and they did drive slower than today at least in cities like Chicago.

          • January 26, 2012 at 12:05 pm

            Poor ol’ Clover’s gonna just love Clover Cam….

          • BrentP
            January 26, 2012 at 2:43 pm

            Clover, I am not taking the bait. Let me know when you actually present a fact instead of your feelings based on fuzzy memories. In the last post I presented data that clearly shows that the 55mph was never obeyed in any meaningful way. I have also addressed all your other arguments and knocked them down with facts.

            With people ‘like me’ in charge clover, there would be an abundance of fuel and fuels on the market. It is your kind that regulates us into confined choices and then cartels that provide those choices. Any problems past and present with oil or gasoline supply can be directly traced back to the sort of command and control system you want.

            As far as insurance rates go clover, we have already established that I pay less for a mustang than you do for your driving appliance.

            But you are correct, a big metro area is full of people like you, that use government for their advantage. People who are rude and control freakish. The mass numbers brings them out of the woodwork because they lose some of the fear to act personally.

          • clover
            January 27, 2012 at 4:32 am

            You know I now give up. If you agree to post a libertarian sticker on the back of your bumper then I will try to help you get laws passed so that anyone with that sticker on their car is not required to wear any safety devices if the driver is at least 21. Sounds like a winner. I also think that anyone with that sticker on their car if found weaving or in an accident and is found to be drunk or on drugs that they need to be thrown in jail for at least 10 years.

          • January 27, 2012 at 10:59 am

            Why Clover! You are learning. All but the sticker part. Yes, indeed. The concept is: Leave others free to make their own choices – and if they make poor ones, hold them (but only them) responsible. I am in agreement with you that a person who causes serious harm – say, someone who drives impaired and causes an accident – should be held to account, severely and seriously. But if he does not cause any actual harm, he gets left alone – free to go about his life.

            Can you agree to that?

          • BrentP
            January 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm

            A sticker… how nazi like of you.

          • clover
            January 28, 2012 at 4:39 am

            Eric, this is to respond to your response that speeds have not changed in what, 50 years or whatever? Wrong. I drove across Iowa a couple of weeks ago. The speed limit was 70 mph. The speeds traveled were very close to 70 mph because there were police every few miles to hold people to that speed and I do not remember seeing anyone pulled over. Back in the 80s if you drove at 60 mph, there was a very good chance you would be sitting along the side of the road for 10 minutes. There was also a very low percentage of people pulled over in the 80s because they were smart enough to know they would be stopped for 60 mph. The facts are the facts. yes there were times and places I am sure where certain people drove up to 70 mph but it is about the same amount of people that now drive once in a while up to 90. You forget that I was there and saw that. Facts that you see day after day for more than a decade means more than someone’s statement that they make to try to prove some kind of point.

          • BrentP
            January 28, 2012 at 6:02 am

            Clover, you are simply full of crap.

            Here’s a book for you:
            http://www.amazon.com/Cannonball-Worlds-Greatest-Outlaw-Road/dp/0760316333

        • StanTheMan
          January 17, 2012 at 12:02 am

          “A POS like the original Yugo or the first Hyundai Excel would not sell. But a well-built, reliable – and appealing little car like the old Beetle would, I suspect.”

          Come on, Eric, you know better than that. I owned them all and they are all POS. In fact, design wise, the Yugo and the Excel beat the hell out of the old Beetle. I stand by that statement too. I’m not making excuses here but I owed both a ’56 and ’66 Beetle and there were no significant differences between all the years in design, or later than ’66 for that matter. The design SUCKS! Nobody in their right mind would buy one today. Well, maybe if they did not want any trunk space, or reliable heat and air conditioning or four doors or…

          Modern cars are way better by far. I would NEVER want to go back. Yes, maybe lighter, but not the old designs. The VW Beetle DESERVED to die, just like the ’57 Chevy…

          StanTheMan

          • January 17, 2012 at 10:26 am

            I’ve owned old Beetles, too – and the difference was this: Yes, the Beetle was a primitive car, but it was generally reliable (the Yugo and Excel were not), easy to fix when something went wrong (again, the Yugo and Excel weren’t) and could be driven for decades, with occasional rebuilds in between. It it still common to see 40 year old Beetles in service as daily drivers. When was the last time you even saw an Excel or Yugo (running or not)?

          • Boothe
            January 17, 2012 at 1:58 pm

            A young couple we knew had an Excel and the timing belt broke on it. They didn’t have much money and asked me to help them change it. It was a bear to say the least, but we finally got it done. I’d dealt with two other similar cars of the day – a Toyota Tercel and Mazda GLC – they weren’t too bad to work on. So I asked one of my gearhead buddies about the Excel. He said look at an Excel like a disposable cigarette lighter; at 100K, throw it away.

  9. Marc
    January 13, 2012 at 2:17 am

    My dream car? This would take a little doing as a joint venture between Mazda and VW but it’s definitely doable. Make an exact replica of the old bug. Don’t change anything, not a single thing. Power it instead with a single rotor rotary engine (currently unavailable) mounted in the same rear location as the old air cooled four cylinder.

    • January 13, 2012 at 10:52 am

      I like the idea – but would prefer the (simpler) air-cooled engine.

      I have several air-cooled bikes and it’s nice not to have to worry about radiators, hoses, fans, etc.

      Also, the engine is much more accessible without those items – and the car is lighter, too.

      • mithrandir
        January 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm

        Are air cooled engines not used in autos since there are issues with emissions and overheating in (hot weather or stop/go traffic)?

        • January 13, 2012 at 4:29 pm

          That’s my understanding.Porsche was the last – and had to abandon the air-cooled layout (circa late ’90s?) to meet new/projected emissions standards

      • Marc
        January 14, 2012 at 6:38 am

        True enough but the rotary is smaller and lighter than a piston engine to begin with. In my mind’s eye a one rotor engine would be even lighter and more compact allowing plenty of room for a radiator if needed. Perhaps the radiator could have a narrow enough profile to be attached to the door and lift up with the door along with the electric fan. I might be imagining things but rotaries don’t seem to get very hot. The old Hercules 2000 Wankel motorcycle, for example, had no cooling fins, water cooling, or oil cooler. If a rotary could be made with cooling fins and no water jacket perhaps only a fan would be needed for cooling much like the old bug. I know, that’s a big if.

        • January 14, 2012 at 11:21 am

          It is an interesting concept – wouldn’t it be great if an automaker (no, even better, a start-up) could legally build such a machine and offer it for sale?

          Too bad they can’t.

          • Marc
            January 14, 2012 at 10:35 pm

            I could never understand why aluminum wasn’t used more. I haven’t looked at prices recently but is it a lot more expensive than steel? Perhaps it has physical attributes that the auto manufacturers detest for some reason. I just don’t know.

            As far as the legal thing goes the whole idea is to create so many though shalt nots that we all become criminals. Only corporations with millions at their disposal (plus corporatist subsidies and favorable regulations designed to protect their interests) can manufacture things that are fully in compliance with the environmental, safety, and gas mileage concerns of the moment. In short, we have become ossified. The mundances have accepted an existence somewhere between children and zoo animals. The matrix is really a bureaucratic mindset.

          • BrentP
            January 14, 2012 at 11:33 pm

            Aluminum compared to steel is more expensive, more difficult to form, requires more care to weld, doesn’t have a fatigue limit, and other misc issues.

            I think the ruling class sees us mostly as farm animals. The clovers think everyone needs to be treated like children.

          • Marc
            January 15, 2012 at 4:50 pm

            To name just a few uses aluminum is used to make airplanes, some rail passenger coaches, and pots and pans. I think that it could be at least used for auto hoods, trunk lids, doors, and stuff underneath the car like control arms that rot in the northern climate. It’s not only lighter but stronger than steel.

          • Fritz
            January 15, 2012 at 5:39 pm

            A lot of car bodies contain aluminum now. Audi even uses it in chassis. As do, I’m sure, other manufacturers.

            In fact, speaking of rotaries the S5 Turbo RX7 used an aluminum hood, AND control arms, back in 89. But even the 300SL Gullwing could be had with an entirely aluminum body. It actually is quite common to find aluminum used on cars.

            I think the reason steel is used in most parts of a car is that stamping is cheaper than casting, or certainly, tubular parts. Which lends itself to steel.

          • January 16, 2012 at 11:15 am

            My old (1964) Corvair had an all-alloy engine; so did the VW Beetle. A reasonably strong man could pick up and carry the entire engine by himself.

            Both cars were also unibodies, which further helped cut down on weight.

            The Old Beetle weighed about 1,800 ,lbs, as I recall.

            Use of aluminum bodywork could probably have cut that down by 200 pounds or even more. Of course, that would have added to the expense.

            The balance VW struck was damn near perfect: Light, economical to operate, simple, inexpensive to buy.

          • Marc
            January 16, 2012 at 3:58 am

            You are right about the 300 SL being available in an all aluminum body. I guess that version was very expensive. The others had aluminum hoods, doors, and trunk lids. Crap, every time I think I have an original idea I find out it’s already been done. The 160 MPH top speed is impressive. Fuel injection was in its infancy then and had far from perfect. What are collectors paying for one these days?

          • Fritz
            January 16, 2012 at 6:04 am

            A bunch. Every time I hear about one it’s at auction above $500’000. Pretty cool beans, I was walking around town and saw one in my neighborhood at the light. Silver on red.

          • Marc
            January 17, 2012 at 1:49 am

            That’s not a bad return on an investment of $10,000 in the 1950s – even in inflation adjusted dollars.

  10. Werner
    January 13, 2012 at 2:55 am

    Here’s another thing we are missing: An explanation WHY we as customers must pay for the delivery of the new car to the dealer’s lot! I bought a new flat screen TV, a new washer and dryer, a new whatever – I was never asked to pay the cost of having the item delivered to the store where I purchased it!

    If I had the option of picking it up at the manufacturer’s plant and thereby saving this added on charge, I could see some justification! But to take delivery at the dealer’s lot is the only option!

    On a new car it’s an enormous surcharge, plus in Canada the dreaded GST (Goods and Services Tax) and a cool 1 1/2 to 2 grand is the usual total bill extracted from the hapless and defenseless purchaser!

    Once I offered the dealer (who was sending two guys to pick up the new Pontiac Firefly from the dock where it was unloaded from the Japanese carrier) but was told that I would not be admitted.

    Ah, plus another 200 to 300 for a pre-delivery inspection – as if the new chariot left the factory in a suspected disfunctional state!

    • Boothe
      January 13, 2012 at 4:24 am

      Actually Werner, you do pay for the delivery of any item to the retailer. It’s just rolled into the cost of that item (along with any excise taxes, duties, packaging, etc.). Say for instance you buy a washing machine. The manufacturer didn’t build the drive motor. Every piece of material that went into that motor, the labor, the income tax, social security, medicare, unemployment insurance, property taxes are all rolled into the cost of that motor, plus packaging and shipping to get it to the OEM purchaser. The OEM tacks a bit of margin onto their cost for the motor, then installs it in the appliance adding in all those same aforementioned costs of their own. Then the retailer ends up paying to have it shipped to the point of sale. He rolls that cost, along with his overhead and profit, into the final price.

      The car dealers are merely doing the same thing, only they itemize it out to keep the advertised price of the vehicle lower and make it more attractive to you. The solution is to let someone else pick up the initial tab, devalue the vehicle for a few years and then buy it from them used.

      • Werner
        January 13, 2012 at 5:36 pm

        Thanks Boothe, I know that shipping is included in the price of everything I am buying, but my point is why car dealers get away with NOT rolling the delivery charges for the new vehicle into the final advertised price.

        Plainly it’s a way to make the price look unrealistally low!

        Recently we purchased a vehicle which had a sticker price of 29,995.95

        After adding pre-delivery inspection, delivery charge, A/C surcharge, battery recycling fee, tires recycling fee, Goods and Services tax, provincial sales tax, documentation fee, undercoating, mudflaps – the out the door actual price to take possession was closer to 36 grand!

        We don’t see big ticket items for sale in Sears or Walmart or other stores which exclude delivery charges to the store from the advertised price.

        The dealers also get away with promising gas mileage claims which are unattainable no matter how carefully one drives the car or truck.

        Personally I would be much happier if I could just pick up the new chariot directly from the factory and cut out all the standard dealer posturing and ancient rituals altogether!

        Just my opinion, of course!

        • Boothe
          January 13, 2012 at 6:32 pm

          Werner, in all fairness, I have ordered big ticket items like woodworking equipment that carried a delivery surcharge (just to get the item to the retail store). So it’s not completely unheard of. But I do agree with you on cars (as I stated before); the shipping, inspection, etc. fees are left off to make the costs look lower. What I’ve done in the past (the last new vehicle I bought was in 1987) was tell the dealer no, we start talking at the sticker price (or “invoice”) and negotiate from there. Most of them will deal and if not, there are other dealers that will. Taxes, obviously, are not something the dealer can do anything about but I have been able to successfully negotiate lower prices on various things to “pay the sales tax”. Always, always, always haggle!

          As far as I know unless you work for an automobile manufacturer (or are closely related to an employee) they don’t let you pick your car up at the factory or rail yard. You’re right, it sure would be nice if they did. I’d also like to be able to pick up the actual bill of sale at the point of origin and tell the state to piss off (i.e. no registration, certificate of title, plates, inspection or sales tax either). As far as I’m concerned my car is private property and the state has no business insinuating itself into my right to own property of any kind.

          In regard to gas mileage and safety claims; that’s government bullshit as much or more than it is the manufacturers’. I put a lot more stock in independent reviews like what Eric does here, or Consumer Reports or private owner reviews, rather than anything a bunch of tax feeding bureaucrats comes up with. Trust me, I’m on board with your opinion.

          • clover
            January 14, 2012 at 1:35 am

            Boothe, explain why you would take the word of someone that does no testing themselves? At least the government testing has standards that you can actually compare one vehicle with another. Yes the mpg is also controlled by the driver but at least it gives you a very good starting point to compare vehicles since you can not test them all yourself before you buy them unless you are able to rent them. As far as safety testing how is a person supposed to determine that if they never do any testing?

          • January 14, 2012 at 11:50 am

            Here’s why Clovers:

            The government routinely provides false/misleading/politicized “facts” – do you really need me to explain that to you?

            As regards gas mileage tests: They are based on a set of parameters arbitrarily selected by the government. Hence, your mileage will vary. Some people do manage to surpass the government’s reported mileage; others find they get nowhere near the advertised mileage.

            The reason? Drum roll, please:

            People drive differently – and conditions where they drive often differ markedly.

            Poor ol’ Clovers

          • Boothe
            January 14, 2012 at 5:06 pm

            Actually Clover, Consumer Reports performs safety testing as well as the Insurance Institute. You should have seen by the bailouts of Chrysler and GM that the automotive industry is highly politicized. If there is a need or desire for a particular good or service the free market will provide it…efficiently. That includes independent testing for gas mileage, safety, reliability, etc. I don’t feel the need to force my neighbors to pay for studies and evaluations for products they may never buy. I don’t need government to do very much at all for me in fact.

            It’s people like you that feel the need for the government to do all these un-Constitutional things (with your fellow countrymen’s money of course) that have turned this once prosperous and free nation into a bankrupt fascist nanny state. You need to wake up and accept that much of our government is now merged with, owned and operated by huge transnational corporations whose officers are only interested in things that profit them by stifling innovation and eliminating competition.

            This is the same government that routinely discards study results that go against the political flavor of the day. The trouble is when we try to use government to control snake oil salesmen, charlatans and other crooks, they merely migrate into government and ply their trades with official sanction. This is the reason you must rely on private enterprise for everything you can, including safety studies, because when there is competition and innovation you get good results. When there is a monopoly on research and information (e.g. North Korea, Cuba, et al) you get politicized and poor results. Hence as Eric pointed out “your mileage may vary”.

          • clover
            January 14, 2012 at 11:20 pm

            Boothe, why don’t you provide us with examples of what you say the government does. You know it is pretty easy to say this guy is a crook and that guy is a crook without any evidence. I guess you can live without any government testing but I would prefer someone to see that things are safe and stats on cars are correct and so on. You sound like Ron Paul. Do not have any food safety testing. Let the people decide if they want to eat something or not after a few hundred people are killed and a couple of weeks after the fact. The government may not be perfect but I would trust that over the public sector that is only in something for the money. How do you know there are no payoffs on the public sector?

          • January 15, 2012 at 12:28 am

            “The government may not be perfect but I would trust that over the public sector”

            Poor ol’ Clover – he doesn’t even understand what public sector means!

            It means, the government!

          • dom
            January 15, 2012 at 12:33 am

            How the hell is Clover able to post so many comments? I think she is outnumbering Eric two to one! How come her writing style has completely changed? Why won’t she state what she does for a living?

          • clover
            January 15, 2012 at 1:40 am

            Yes, tell us what Eric and Dom do for a living? Must get paid from donations from other libertarians. Oh, that’s right, from ads on the site. I am paying them.

          • January 15, 2012 at 2:25 am

            Clovers, you’re the one(s) who won’t say what he/she does for a living. But we can be pretty sure he’she’s not someone who earns a living. If he/she turns out to be someone other than a government drone, or in some way leech off people via some government-connected “business,” I’ll be shocked.

            Please, Clovers – tell us: What do you (all) do for a living?

          • dom
            January 15, 2012 at 2:01 am

            I have no problem saying what I do for a living. I work in IT as a quality assurance analyst. You know what Eric does already!

          • Gil
            January 22, 2012 at 2:26 am

            Libertarians don’t have provide proof of anything. Non-Libertarians are all crooks and marauders. Libertarians are the only honest folk and wealth creators in existence.

          • January 22, 2012 at 3:26 pm

            You’ve descended into gibberish again. More of it, and it’ll be trashed.

            To answer your statement: People who live by violence are, indeed, crooks and marauders. Whether they do it personally, or via the ballot box makes not an iota of difference. If you steal my money yourself, threatening me with your fists or a weapon, you’re a thug. If you get the government to do the same thing for you, you’re a thug – and also, a coward.

          • Boothe
            January 22, 2012 at 4:56 am

            Gil, what exactly would you and Clover like proof of? Police brutality? The video evidence on the Net alone is plethoric, but tasering a mom in a minivan comes immediately to mind. How about fraud on the environmental front? We could start with the East Anglia emails on Wiki Leaks. Would you prefer U.S. military war crimes? Perhaps video from some happy-go-lucky chopper jocks shooting up some Iraqi journalists and some children in a minivan? Maybe a few galant marines pissing on some malnourished dead civilians armed with a wheelbarrow?

            Maybe you prefer “gun control” corruption. How about operation “Fast and Furious”? Nothing quite like the very people tasked with preventing gun crime running a few guns over the border to create gun crime, huh? Or we could go back a few years and bring up the late Senator Kennedy’s little bastard stepchild, the Wright-Rossi study that he had to try to bury because it proved that gun control was not only ineffective, but downright immoral.

            There is so much proof of government corruption available to us now, it’s no wonder they want an Internet kill switch. Be careful what you (and Clover) ask for, because proof of government corruption is overwhelming. If you don’t believe me, just ask Jon Corzine…..

          • Gil
            January 23, 2012 at 3:07 am

            And if you saw a video of private individuals getting in a fight? That’s perfectly okay if they fight and kill one another and onlooker piss on their corpses as none of my money has been stolen from to pay for it? Likewise Saddam or Gaddafi never harmed me so why should I have the right to harm them? No harm to me, no foul to me.

          • January 23, 2012 at 10:32 am

            Really, Clover, how many times does the principle of non-aggression have to be explained to you? You are either incredibly dense or just trying to wear people down by regurgitating the same imbecile objections over and over and over… I prefer to assume it’s the latter, because I have a hard time conceiving that anyone can be that stupid.

            One last time:

            No one has the right to beat anyone else, much less kill them. That is assault – and murder (respectively). Libertarians oppose the first use of violence or force. That is, the only acceptable use of force is in self-defense.

            So, it’s both right and obligatory to intercede when one person is assaulting another – and to punish them appropriately. “Privacy” has no relevance here.

            Ok? Got it?

            I’m not explaining it to you again. Future posts of yours that don’t take cognizance of the above, which go on (and on and on) about how Libertarians favor leaving people to commit mayhem and all that crap will never see the light of day. They’ll just be flushed. And so will you.

          • clover
            January 28, 2012 at 4:51 am

            Yes Eric I have to laugh. I have seen your videos of aggression by the police. 98 percent of the time you do not have video of what happened in the preceding one or two minutes that is often edited out because it would have show what the so called victim did to the policeman before the start of your video. I would say that true aggression is when a driver drives drunk or a driver drives in such a manner as significantly increasing the chance that they will kill or injure or cause loss of property of others.

        • January 13, 2012 at 8:23 pm

          Hi Werner,

          It’s all about marketing psychology (as Booth explained). By leaving off “destination and delivery” charges, they can tout a lower price in their advertising. It’s disingenuous, of course, because they are going to add the D&D. Plus also “advertising and promotion” costs, “prep” and other things besides…if you let them.

          The good news is that provided you’re not trying to buy a very trendy/popular model, you can almost always haggle down these costs. Start with the dealer invoice price as your baseline. It is typically 10 percent higher than the MSRP “sticker price.”
          Negotiate up from invoice, not down from sticker.

          • Doug
            January 27, 2012 at 10:49 pm

            Wait a minute! This payaso may piss you off but at least he keeps your Blogs interesting. A while back, the National Motorists Association had some jerk posting stupid, unproven, incorrect stuff and he was eventually banned – but this pretty-much dried up posts by others as well. What’s the point of a discussion if everyone is in total agreement?

          • ThatOneGuy
            January 27, 2012 at 11:08 pm

            Interesting point, Doug.

            Hey Eric and Dom, Clover and Gil aren’t your own cynical inventions to increase traffic are they?:)

          • January 28, 2012 at 12:19 am

            Hey, I’d ‘fess up if it were true – if only so that folks here could admire my seamless conjuring of the archetypical government Tool!

            Clover is at least two people – one noticeably more articulate than the other. I suspect an old couple, with the wife doing most of “Clover’s” posting.

            Gil is harder to plumb. Several IPs. He (they?) could be phishers – or whatever the term is for people who come to web sites like this one on behalf of the government, in order to disrupt it and to try to get people to leave posts that could be construed as incitements to violence by TPTB.

          • dom
            January 27, 2012 at 11:14 pm

            I knew that question was coming! Personally, I am not smart enough to do such a thing. Eric on the other hand is smart enough to do just about anything, but I am good with IT stuff and know for sure it ain’t him. We have nothing to do with any accounts other than dom, eric, and clover’s evil brother. I am pretty much 100% sure clover is a government terminal sitting open to anyone in the office to use (like Boothe said).

          • ThatOneGuy
            January 27, 2012 at 11:18 pm

            I didn’t really think so, just said it in jest.

            Who is Clover’s evil brother? Did I miss something?

          • dom
            January 27, 2012 at 11:24 pm

            When clover first popped up Eric messed around posting things under that handle. I failed to mention Gil. I am not sure what his deal is but his IP always hails from Australia. In the beginning it came from a Cafe near a law school down there. I have not looked it up in a long time though. Things may have changed. I do know both Clover and Gil have a super hard on for this site for some reason. We’ve blocked them, moderated the hell out of there posts, and have even banned their ip addresses and they still keep coming back. My next step will be to ban all ip address from their network. Not just yet though.

          • ThatOneGuy
            January 27, 2012 at 11:27 pm

            Eric, why did you stop? I’ve thought about doppelganging the Clovers on more than one occasion, it seems like it would be positively evil fun.

          • January 28, 2012 at 12:17 am

            It was fun for awhile – but it’s just the same thing over and over and over. He’s so thick gamma rays can’t penetrate, let alone my sarcasm!

  11. RebelKnightCSA
    January 16, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Clover’s fantasies vs. Eric’s facts? You might as well race a 1981 Corvette against a 1962 Aston-Martin. Guess who is getting smoked?

  12. January 18, 2012 at 6:55 am

    I’ve got a 1988 Honda CRX SI with 541,000 miles on it (the odometer is showing that number and the cable was broken for a couple of years, so there’s no telling)that gets around 35 to 38 mpg. It has gotten over 40 on a few occasions, but that is an anomaly.
    The HF models did much better, but they’re hard to find now and aren’t as peppy.

    Years ago, I worked as a wrecker driver for a guy who had been a CPA before going in the wrecker business. He kept meticulous records on his cost per mile for each truck and would give lectures on how fuel economy was not much of a factor in the cost per mile, which was all he cared about. He would talk about tire wear, clutch wear, brakes, cost of insurance, overall life of the truck and on and on.

    Here http://www.autoblog.com/2010/10/05/vw-sets-single-tank-distance-record-with-1-527-mile-passat-bluem/ is an article from 2010 on a VW diesel that got 90 mpg. I don’t know how difficult it is to get one of these, but the numbers are impressive even if they are exaggerated, which they don’t seem to be. This clobbers any of the hybrids without resorting to unconventional design.

    • January 18, 2012 at 10:17 am

      Hi Chris,

      That wrecker driver sounds like my kind of guy!

      He’s right (and you’re right) about factoring in the total picture, not just mileage. I’ve posted several examples, including one of my own, using my ’98 Nissan pick-up as the subject. So far, it has cost me appx. $36 a month to own it. By next year, it will have cost me nothing to own it. It’s not glamorous, or fast – and doesn’t get particularly great (but not terrible, either) gas mileage. But ti didn’t cost much to buy (used) and costs me almost nothing to maintain or keep (low taxes/insurance) so gas mileage is much less relevant.

      Of course, not everyone wants to drive an older vehicle. I understand that, nothing wrong with that. But then, you’re primary motivation is no longer saving money!

  13. Allen
    January 18, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Eric,
    I am glad to hear you talk about Dodge Omni. It is funny ’cause that’s my first car. I paid $1800 in 1992 (car was 1988) with only 35K miles on it, and sold it the next year. Nothing wrong, I used to change cars every year at that time. Too bad I did not pay attention on mpg at all, since the gas was only 99c a gallon, and a typical fill up was $16.

    • January 18, 2012 at 10:11 am

      Hi Allen,

      We don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone… cars like the Omni may not have been quick or slick or anything more than basic transportation at a reasonable cost. But these days, reasonable anything is getting hard to come by!

  14. Matt in Korea
    January 18, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Eric, where did you come up with the term “clover”? I like it. I live in a country full of drivers that make clovers seem like ideal drivers.

    No one mentioned it, so I will: many states tax a vehicle based on its weight. So they not only increase revenue through higher sales tax because of all thenshit they force manufacturers to put into the car, but also they get you with a higher registration tax because of the higher curb weight. Win-win: government wins twice!

    As for me, I have a POS 1995 Hyundai Avante station wagon, that despite its lackluster reputation, is one of my favorite cars ever. I’m trying to decide between throwing it in the woods and fixing it up right. Even in the poor condition it is in (thanks to a series of negligent owners) I’m getting about 25 mpg in very hilly city driving, where the traffic is bumper-to-bumper from about 5 am to 10 am and again from 11 am until 2 am. Merciless conditions because of the millions of superclovers clogging up the streets. Think: green light, go; red light, go faster so that the people going through the green will have to stop or risk hitting you.

    It’s probably going in the woods within a year. Or two. I love it like a dog you know needs to be put to sleep but you can’t bring yourself to go tothe vet’s. I think it will take something cataclysmic for me to give it hope.

  15. Matt in Korea
    January 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Never mind the clover question. I just saw your answer on another page. Great stuff.

    • January 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm

      Thanks, Matt!

      Good to have you with us…

  16. Houseward
    January 18, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    What we really need is someone with $14K to burn that’s willing to buy a Toyota Yaris and strip out 500 lbs of unnecessary electronics, seats, airbags, and soundproofing. Run it around the track at 45mph, 55mph, and 65mph, and see how it performs.

    Any volunteers?

    • January 18, 2012 at 7:04 pm

      That is a capital idea!

      Maybe I can get Toyota to donate one…

  17. Clell Adams
    January 19, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Safety would still be better on a newer car. And with the light weight materials now in use, maybe the cars would only be 200 lbs heavier.

    But like you say, we’ll probably never get the chance to find out in the USA.

    But what about India, are they building cars like the old Honda Civic high mileage CRX? 54mpg at least.

    C Adams in Alabama

    • January 19, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      It would probably be possible to build a very lightweight car using carbon fiber and other materials that would also be “safe” (that is, comparably crashworthy) but use of these materials (even aluminum) makes the resultant car more expensive.

      My opinion on this:

      To a very great extent, “accidents” are avoidable. For an alert, competent driver, it’s not an unreasonable risk to drive a very lightweight, high-efficiency vehicle that might not offer as much protection if you get into a crash (largely avoidable) vs. a heavier, not so-efficient vehicle that will get poor mileage every time you drive it.

      The problem is, we’re not allowed to make these calculations – and decide for ourselves.

      Clovers demand the authority to decide for us – even when it’s against our will and against our interests.

      • Doug
        January 19, 2012 at 5:33 pm

        There are ways to import and drive a non-DOT approved car in the States if you don’t mind not having a US Title – I did it twice. You just need to be careful, cover all your bases and don’t tell anyone what you did.

    • Mark W. Marasch
      January 20, 2012 at 12:34 am

      Speaking of choices, where’s my 30 mpg family hauler?!

      The big 3 were all working on smaller diesel engines for their 1/2 ton pickups back before their failures and bailouts. Their lack of forward-thinking killed them. They only really wanted to build huge pickups designed to pull houses down the road at 80 mph. What about those of us who simply want a larger vehicle with some efficiency? The government shouldn’t have bailed them out. Let the dinosaurs die, so that some more intelligent mammals can take their place!

      Mahindra & Mahindra almost filled this void with their mid-sized pickups with 2.2 liter turbodiesels that were promising 30+ mpg. Seeing how the big 3 dropped the ball, I was excited to see somebody pick it up. Lawsuits over Global Vehicles’ delays in working out details with the EPA and Mahindra’s failure to deliver trucks ended this possibility, too.

      The hybrid trucks will only get lower 20 mpg figures.

      Finally, tired of waiting for a product that won’t arrive, I bought a Suburban and I’m installing a 3.9 liter Isuzu turbodiesel from an NPR truck and a 5-speed manual transmission. I saw some guys who put this engine into a full-sized Chevy pickup and got 32 mpg on the highway. The Suburban is heavy, but I’m sure I’ll easily make upper 20s.

    • Mark W. Marasch
      January 20, 2012 at 12:36 am

      “Lightweight materials now in use?” Like steel? Last time I checked, they are still pretty much steel. We have plastic bumpers, though…

  18. Michael Ray
    January 23, 2012 at 5:21 am

    I tried to find a 1981 Dodge Omni for sale but I couldn’t find one even on ebay. What other cars might I look for that would be as good?

    • January 23, 2012 at 10:15 am

      Hi Michael,

      I referenced the Omni as an example, but there are many other cars from that period you might consider. The main thing is finding a good one – and they are out there. Friends of ours just down the road recently (this month) found at an auction a very nice mid ’87s Pontiac 6000 SE station wagon for $2,100. Now it’s not a 40 MPG’er, but it’s a low miles (74k) 5-passenger (seven, if you count the rear-facing and fold-flat rumble seat third row) wagon that could be used every day for the next ten years or longer probably. The 2.8 V-6 is a great engine that delivers decent gas mileage, too.

  19. Matt
    January 23, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Enjoyed this article because I’ve been saying the same thing myself. I was a kid when my mom had one of those VW diesel Rabbits (‘79 I believe). I learned to drive in that car and then she got either an ‘85 or ‘86 VW diesel Golf. I forget what the tank held on that car, but I took a mostly highway road trip in that car and was over 700 miles on a tank of gas at one point (not by choice – I was probably on fumes looking for a gas station selling diesel). Those cars had near zero get-up-and-go, but they sure went a long way on a gallon of fuel. I look at all these car commercials today making noise about 40 mpg and wonder what the excitement is about. As you note, it would be interesting to see what cars would be available in a truly free market for autos.

    • January 23, 2012 at 9:12 pm

      Hey Matt,

      I’m hoping that as the site grows, we’ll be able to do things like buy a car from that period, make a few updates to it as mentioned in the story and then report on the mileage/performance.

      I can tell you this much:

      I have an old muscle car, a 1976 Trans Am. It has a 455, mildly hopped-up. A few years ago, I installed an overdrive transmission because with 3.90 rear gears, the thing was running 3,300 RPM at 60, which limited my driving and made driving less fun – in addition to just drinking gas.

      With the OD transmission, the engine now turns about 2,200 at 70. It is not only much more highway friendly, I have reduced the wear and tear on the engine and get much better gas mileage.

      I’m not sure exactly how much better, but I estimate the thing averages high-teens overall, which is excellent for what it is.

      I’ll find out what the actual MPGs are as soon as the weather clears and I can do a few experimental runs. I’ll keep everyone posted!

  20. PJ
    December 7, 2012 at 1:54 am

    There are multiple factors working here. Weight as Eric mentioned is a big one. Size is also – I was looking at my ’97 VW Passat diesel next to my wife’s new Honda Accord; I was amazed at how much larger the Accord was. This translates into a larger cross-section and more wind drag. Speed limits are higher now. People are probably driving harder now, than they did when they had to sit in lines at the pump in the seventies. Ethanol in fuel.

    Other factors favor modern cars, compensating somewhat. Better technology, better fuel mixtures, better transmissions, better aerodynamics (usually) and so forth. But they don’t compensate enough for the speed and weight increase, apparently. Or maybe the older cars were just carbureted a lot leaner – maybe they could get away with that using leaded fuel.

    FWIW my Passat at cruising speed drops about 1 mpg per additional 1 mph. At 65mph I get 45mpg, at 60mph I get 50mpg. It is about 3300 lb.

    BTW the name-calling in some of the comments is pretty childish.

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