Souped Down 1959 Opel T-1 Gets 376.59 mpg
Photos by Cosmopolitan Motors
Modified for Extremely High MPG
Could you believe that the car above made the 1975 Guiness World Record book? Its claim to fame is getting an amazing 376.59 miles per gallon of gasoline, and that in a 1973 contest sponsored by Shell Oil (now Royal Dutch Shell).
As you can see from the photo above and others further down this article, the car is pretty far from our modern "manta ray-shaped, wind tunnel-vetted carbon fiber space car", as the SeattlePI reporter puts it. How did it achieve such high fuel economy when even our modern hybrids are orders of magnitude less efficient? What can we learn from it? Read on.
The first thing the team that built the car did is make it as light as possible: They completely stripped the interior except for a seat. They also chopped the top to lower wind resistance.
The Opel's rear axle was narrowed and super-hard low-friction tires were used. To save even more weight, a chain drive was used. The engine was pretty much the stock 4-cylinder that came with the car, but the fuel line was insulated and heated so the gasoline entered the combustion chambers as lean vapor.
The record was achieve by driving the car at a steady 30 mph (48 kph).
Now of course this isn't exactly a practical car. But even if you changed it enough to reduce its performance by 250 mpg, that still leaves you with 126 mpg! With modern technology, we should be able to do much better than what we're doing now.
Common sense wins again: Make cars lighter, more aerodynamic, and use smaller engines.
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