A Lesson From The Past . . . About the Rip-Off Of Today

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By 2016, per federal mandate, all new cars will be required to average 35.5 miles per gallon. This sounds like a big deal. It isn’t – except in terms of how much we’ll all be paying for this grand achievement. Either directly – in the form of “gas guzzler” penalties tacked onto the MSRPs of new cars that don’t make the cut. Or indirectly – in the form of elaborate technologies such as automatic engine stop (like hybrids, but for non-hybrid cars), smaller displacement engines fitted with turbochargers, gas direct injection, etc. – for those that do make the cut.

The real big deal is that it’s perfectly possible to build cars that achieve an average of 35.5 MPG – or more – without federal mandates,  without elaborate technology and without the suffocating expense that comes with both.  Hell, it’s already been done.

More than 40 years ago, in fact.

Friends of ours own a 1970 Morris Minor, which I keep up for them. For those not familiar with the Morris Minor, it was Britain’s answer to the VW Beetle (original model). Though differently laid out (it’s got a water-cooled and front-mounted engine vs. the Beetle’s rear-mounted and air-cooled engine) it was very similar in concept. It was designed to be simple, economical transportation. Thus, above all else, it was light.  The 1970 Morris sedan weighed just under 1,700 lbs. – which made it slightly heavier than the Beetle. But both cars weighed about 600-800 pounds less than their contemporary equivalents. A 2012 Mazda2 sedan, for instance, weighs 2,306 lbs. Even the tiny Fiat 500 – which is nearly a foot shorter overall than the Morris Minor – tips the scales at 2,363 lbs. (It actually weighs more than the physically larger, four-door Mazda!)

The point being, they’re both beefy.

The Morris – and the Beetle – were not. As a result, they were capable of posting gas mileage numbers almost as good as a current-era Prius hybrid, but without all the folderol.  And far better than non-hybrid cars like the Mazda2 and Fiat 500.

Here’s some factory data about the Morris Minor’s fuel consumption:

At 60 MPH it is capable of returning 40.1 MPG. Around town, at speeds below 40 MPH, the Morris is capable of 53-54 MPG.

Now, the Morris was not a speedy car. About 75 MPH is as fast as it goes.  So it would not be the ticket for sustained highway driving today. However, as a city car or commuter car, it – or something like it – would certainly be viable. People already buy far less viable cars – like the (so-called) Smart car, for instance. It maxes out at 38 MPG on the highway – and 34 in city driving – both numbers lower than the Morris Minor’s. In the case of the city-driving numbers, much lower. And the not-so-Smart car is barely more viable on the highway than the Morris. Its top speed of 90 MPH is only nominally higher  than the Morris’ – and its extremely short wheelbase and tall profile make it much more susceptible to being knocked around – or off the road – by crosswinds.

Meanwhile, the Morris is arguably more suitable as a city car. It’s a sedan, for openers – so it can seat four people – vs. just two in the Smart. And by dint of having a back seat area – and a trunk – it has more usable room to carry groceries and so on than the not-so-Smart car.

The larger point being: The 40-something-year-old Morris makes more sense – and costs a lot less – than a modern micro-car like the Smart. Which, by the way, also weighs more than 2,300 lbs.

This is absurd – but it’s also an inevitable consequence of the conflict between building cars that meet ever-higher federal crashworthiness requirements that are also expected to meet ever-upticking federal fuel economy requirements. The two objects are to a great extent mutually exclusive. You can either build a lightweight, very economical to operate car that’s more vulnerable to the physics of an impact – or you can build a car that insulates the occupants from these forces, but at the cost of building it heavier and so less economical to operate.

There’s really no way around this. Or rather, no way to get both things  in the same car. At least, not at a price point within the range of economic reason.

I suppose one could build a 50 MPG compact car that was also as crashworthy as a mid-sized Mercedes E-Class … provided cost was no object and you could build the thing using exotic, high-strength but also lightweight materials like carbon fiber. But then you’d have a super crashworthy, 50 MPG compact car that also costs $50,000 .. which isn’t very economical.

But the government continues to insist on both things anyhow.

It has gotten “safety” – because new cars are much more sturdily built than the cars of the past. No question, a car like the Smart car would do better – that is, its occupants would fare better – in a crash than our friends’ old Morris.

But modern cars are all much heavier than the Morris – and thus, thirstier – as a result.  To get the mileage demanded by Uncle, the automakers have turned to technology – including (latest thing) a system that shuts off the engine when the car’s not moving, just like a hybrid. I recently tested a new BMW 3 series – a luxury-sport sedan – that had this feature. I expect to see this sort of equipment become standard equipment in more and more new cars, including even basic transportation cars. Only they’ll be increasingly less basic in terms of their sticker price – as well as the cost to maintain/repair them as they age.

Meanwhile, there’s our friends’ little Morris. It gets about the same gas mileage knocking around town as a new Prius hybrid. But the Morris only cost our friends $3,000 – the cost of a few options in a new Prius, which starts at $24,000.

And mind: The Morris is capable of 40-50 MPG with 1970s-era (1960s-era, actually)  technology. It does not have an overdrive transmission, like all modern cars.  It has a carburetor – controlled by a pull-cable attached to the gas pedal. Not direct gas-injection and drive-by-wire. I’d love to see what a car like the Morris could do, MPG-wise, with a few well-chosen updates. Maybe goose the performance of the engine a little to make the car highway viable. Fit it with a throttle body fuel-injection system (much more efficient than a carburetor but still simple and inexpensive and doesn’t require a computer-controlled engine) and an overdrive transmission. None of these things would add appreciably to the curb weight of the Morris – but would probably result in 50-plus MPG, average – which would be 15 MPG better than the 2016 “Obama car.”

And a helluva lot less hassle, too.

Throw it in the Woods?


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  1. I wonder how the Crosly, the Henry J, the Nash Metropolitan, the Rambler,( was there a small studebaker ?), would compare on gas mileage??

    • Somewhere in my pile I have a reference guide that would tell me!

      The other day, I was scanning through one of these – and found an article about the last US-available Dodge Dart (before the new one). It was in 1976, IIRC – and they sold a variant capable of 34 MPG. That’s outstanding, given the ’76 Dart – by modern standards – would be considered mid-sized, had a six-cylinder, carbureted engine and no overdrive gearing.

    • Well, Clover, I sold the Corvair in ’04 because at the time I needed the space in the garage. Of course, that has nothing whatever to do with the points made earlier – points which (as usual) destroyed your original “argument” and which, accordingly, you’ve studiously avoided dealing with.

      I’d love to have another Corvair – and plan to, at some point.

      • Ok Eric, since you are a believer in low hp cars, why do you ever in your revies say that 150 hp+ cars are under powered?

        • Dear clover,

          I’m relatively new to Eric’s website, but even I know that’s hardly an accurate characterization of anybody’s views on this site.

          Consistency hardly equates with maximizing any one isolated quantifier such as HP or gas mileage. That is an obvious straw man.

          Speaking for myself, I like both low powered cars and high powered cars.

          Any car that has character, I find appealing. Typically that character comes from the ingenious way it solves a particular problem.

          For example, the Honda Fit solves the problem of making a tiny car “fit” an astonishing number of passengers or astonishing volume of cargo in such a subcompact body shell.

          By contrast, the Plymouth Road Runner solved the problem of how to make a high performance car cheap and affordable. Its approach was unsubtle, but equally ingenious. Drop a huge Chrysler Hemi in a no frills mid sized sedan.

          Both the modern Fit and the classic Road Runner have character even though they are at opposite ends of the spectrum according to other criteria.

          Liking both is totally consistent.

          The only thing it is inconsistent with, is the “we must make one size fit all” from the top down clover mentality.

        • Because they’re too heavy, Clover.

          And to be clear: I am not a “believer in low hp cars.” That is your confection. I merely pointed out that it is not necessary to have a 300-plus (or even 150 hp) engine to have a viable A to B transportation unit. Provided the owner knows how to drive, provided he doesn’t have to deal with ubiquitous Clovers.

          • “I merely pointed out that it is not necessary to have a 300-plus (or even 150 hp) engine to have a viable A to B transportation”

            You’re right about that – I owned a 67 model Ghia right after high school, and though it only had 50 or 60 horses tops, it’s agile handling made it feel like a much abler car. I bet the same could be said of the old time Mini Coopers and old 2 seat MG.

            • Yup!

              I mentioned in a previous post addressed to Clover that back in the early ’90s, I drove a Beetle (old model) to work and back every day. And work was located in downtown DC. I drove that Beetle from the Northern Va. suburbs (Fairfax) into DC… easily among the toughest/most stressful commutes in the country – in an old Beetle. It did just fine. In fact, it served me well. The thing was light, agile and so perfect for dealing with heavy traffic. In the winter, the rear-mounted engine and tall/skinny tires handled snow as well as some 4×4 trucks. It never got stuck. It was first cheap to buy – and maintain. Gas mileage was just ok – lows 20s average – but when an oil change costs $5 (three quarts of oil, no filter – just a screen to clean) and a tuneup means four plugs, a set of points, an air filter and a can of Gumout – well, who cares?

              But Clover’s mind boggles at such things.

          • Clover
            OK Eric, so you say it only takes someone that knows how to drive a low powered vehicle? I have driven them, I am able to drive them. Would I take one out for an extended period on a 75 mph interstate with two lanes? No. Would you get road rage if I were out there? Yes. When speed limits were in fact 55 mph you flat out did not need a 150 hp car.

          • Clover,

            Can you tell me which interstate highway only has two lanes?

            Most, if not all, of the interstate highways (that I am aware of) are at least 4 lanes (2 lanes in each direction) and depending on the state have minimum speed limits as well.

            I agree with you that one does not need a 150HP car to drive 55mph.

          • mithrandir, I know of at least two of the major interstates across the country that have the majority of the distance as only two lanes going each direction. I-80, and I-70. If you put 55 mph vehicles on those roads where the speed limit is at a minimum of 65 mph outside of major cities and up to 75 mph in some states then you have a road block on one lane in the opinion of particularly road rage drivers. If you have semis passing these vehicles at 60 to 65 mph you then have a road block on both lanes in even your opinion. That is why we do not sell very many 60 to 80 hp cars in this country any more.CloverCloverCloverClover

            • Clover, there have been (and still are) numerous 60-80 hp cars perfectly capable of comfortably being driven at a steady 70 MPH. The old Beetle was one. The Corvair I owned was another. The early ’80s K cars could handle sustained 70 MPH driving, too.

              The numerous small cars currently sold in Europe provide a modern example.

              This was the point made originally – which of course, you’ve ignored.

              But the real issue here is not the speed capability of cars. It is the Cloveronian refusal to practice courteous driving by staying to the right and yielding to faster-moving traffic.

              Poor ol’ Clover!

              Is your mom yelling at you about getting off the computer?

          • Clover,

            From the words you wrote:

            mithrandir, I know of at least two of the major interstates across the country that have the majority of the distance as only two lanes going each direction. I-80, and I-70.

            It appears that you are saying that these roads are 4 lanes (2 lanes in each direction) in width. Is this what you mean to say? If yes, then do you have any examples of 2 lane interstate highways?

            On multi-lane interstates one can drive 55 mph (in 55mph zone) in the right lane while letting the traffic pass you. I have and still do this, on occasion, on interstates with a 55 PSL.

            On a two lane road (not an interstate; 1 lane each direction) I have pulled over to let cars pass me when I was driving slower than them. It cost me about 10 seconds in time. The benefit was the other cars were gone and were not behind me. It was less stressful for all involved.

          • re: clover on July 31, 2012 at 11:24 am

            Clover, the rural autobahn is two lanes in each direction. Bugs and 2CVs get along fine in traffic. Why? Lane discipline that north american drivers lack.

            Americans keep adding lanes and keeps not doing much of anything for congestion. Why? Because it only requires one additional clover per lane to return to the previously congested state. Sure it’s slightly more difficult for three clovers to align than two, but that’s all the extra lane does besides providing more parking space on the road. There’s no way to build out of road congestion without lane discipline.

            • I drove the DC Beltway (and I-95) in a ’73 Beetle. More challenging, to be sure, than in a new G37 or 3 Series. But certainly doable.

              The main problem – as you’ve pointed out – is not the car. It’s the Clovers!

              Here’s a saying I’m fond of:

              It only takes a spoonful of shit to ruin a gallon of ice cream….

          • mithrandi if you are arguing what a two lane or 4 lane interstate is then you have mental problems. If the lanes in each direction are separated by a hundred feet which does occur, would you classify the section of interstate that you are on to be 4 lanes or 2 lanes? It does not matter to me what you would say that it is but the only thing that might be important is that you know what the other person is saying.

            I still have to laugh at the idiots that think it is a fine thing that on a two lane in one direction interstate has cars on it that can only drive 55 mph or even 60 mph. It is only about lane discipline. So says the guys with road rage that get furious when they are slowed down by even 2 mph. I was on a vacation in March driving those two lanes in one direction interstates for well over a thousand miles one way. There were trucks passing each other with the one passing not even keeping up to the speed limit. Would you outlaw such vehicles or get your gun out? The exact same thing would happen a lot more if cars are not capable of keeping up to the speed limit. It really does not matter to me though. I am the one capable of driving under the speed limit when there are cars or trucks in front of me. I just can not believe that the road rage drivers are fine with it.

          • Clover,

            There is no argument just clarification on my part.

            Language is important. Words have meaning, even if people do not use them properly. Law is one area where words and their meaning are very important.

            People need to be sure they are talking about the same thing. From your response, I wanted to be sure we were speaking about the same type of road.

            I still have to laugh at the idiots that think it is a fine thing that on a two lane in one direction interstate has cars on it that can only drive 55 mph or even 60 mph.

            I thought you did not want people to travel faster than the PSL.

            There were trucks passing each other with the one passing not even keeping up to the speed limit. Would you outlaw such vehicles or get your gun out?

            Why the call for violence? It seems that you quickly escalate to the violent option.

            As long as the vehicles do not form a rolling road block, I do not see a problem with all vehicles sharing the road. If you travel along any interstate with heavy semi-tractor trailer traffic you can see the majority of truck drivers driving in a professional and safe manner. They need to drive safely.

            On many interstates with 3+ lanes of travel in one direction tractor trailers (and other heavy vehicles) are banned from traveling in the left most lane.

            The exact same thing would happen a lot more if cars are not capable of keeping up to the speed limit.

            Only if cars do not maintain lane discipline and Keep Right Pass Left.

            LE need to give a ticket to (Slow Bob / Discourteous Richard) staying in the left lane without passing anyone equally as much as they give tickets to anyone for speeding.

            This would help reinforce the notion of lane discipline and Keeping to the Right except when passing.

          • I love all the fury you are giving me on lane discipline. I think it is a correct thing to do. What I do disagree with you about lane discipline is when you tell me I can not pass because there are faster drivers driving illegally well behind me and you say that you go into a rage when I would slow you down for a couple of seconds by passing but at the same time it is fine to force me to stay in the right lane and cost me 30 seconds to save you two seconds. What is the justification of that? What is the justification that illegal drivers can control the road?

            • “I think it is a correct thing to do. What I do disagree with you about lane discipline is when you tell me I can not pass because there are faster drivers driving illegally well behind me and you say that you go into a rage when I would slow you down for a couple of seconds by passing but at the same time it is fine to force me to stay in the right lane and cost me 30 seconds to save you two seconds.”

              Er… what?

              This post cannot be parsed.

          • Clover
            One more comment on lane discipline. When there is heavy traffic, interstates are no longer keep left only to pass. In heavy traffic all lanes are the same. Yes you do not want the drivers under the speed limitClover in the left lane unless that is all they can do because of traffic in front of them. During heavy traffic it is better not to have some trying to drive 80 mph in a 55 mph limit. The best traffic flow and safest driving is when all drivers drive close to the same speed. This has been proven by statistics and studies.Clover

            • Clover… (sigh) the main reason there is “heavy traffic” is precisely because so many people – people like you – refuse to practice lane discipline. All it takes is one Clover who won’t move over to utterly congeal traffic for miles. Add a dozen – as is typical on a busy highway – and, presto: A multi-lane moving roadblock.

          • @Clover on August 1, 2012 at 11:10 pm

            What fury?

            What is difficult about Keep Right Pass Left? You do know how to follow the law?
            At least you claim to follow the law or should I say some of the laws.

            I usually make my pass as safely and quickly as possible, then get back in the right lane. I try not to hang out in the left lane as a moving roadblock.

            I would rather briefly increase my speed to safely & quickly pass a vehicle in front of me than take 5 miles to pass another vehicle.

            @Clover on August 1, 2012 at 11:17 pm

            You are speaking in absurdities.

            I find you boring and immature.

            You do not add anything constructive to this discussion.

            Your use of violence and lack of facts towards others does not strengthen your position.

            You need to go back under the bridge.

          • Clover

            Mith.. I know the law. The law states that during heavy traffic there no such thing of left lane only to pass.

            Tell that to you mirror image Brent that you are supposed to keep right and pass left. In his latest video it is more like keep right and pass as fast as possible and cause an accident if possible and blame someone else.

            Now for Eric saying it is the people that are not flying in the left lane that causes traffic congestion. The fact is that studies have been done that prove that a consistent speed across all vehicles increases better traffic flow. The aggressive drivers cause more acceleration and braking and what they call the accordion affect that slows down traffic and causes traffic jams.

            • “…there no such thing of left lane only to pass. ”

              Another Cloverite gem!

              I’ll leave aside the tortured English and merely point out that in most states, it is the law to yield to faster moving traffic.

              Clover clearly does not “know the law”!

              Then Clover eructs:

              “Now for Eric saying it is the people that are not flying in the left lane that causes traffic congestion. ”

              Italics mine.

              Clover, did I ever use the term flying? I said faster moving traffic. Which you conflate with flying. Because to you, anyone driving faster than you is flying.

          • Dear clover, I don’t know the law regarding staying in the left lane and frankly speaking I don’t give a shit.

            If you are one of those people who don’t know how to pass or have enough brains to get over then you are a douche bag.

            You can bust out the law in your state or bullshit statistics all you like. In the end everyone knows that it’s people like you who hold up traffic and cause accidents.

            Honestly, who hasn’t been held up by a clover who takes his time to pass and won’t get over, either forcing you to slow down or pass on the right. Half the time the dipspit is on his cellphone with the cruise control on. Mirrors? What are those?

            Totally oblivious, doesn’t care about others or their safety, that is typical clover behavior.

            • That’s him, Brad – you nailed it!

              Clover is the measure of everything, you see. Of course, we are all are. But the difference between us – and Clover – is that Clover labor under the delusion that what he feels to be right for himself is therefore right for everyone else, too.

              Thus, “x” speed is the “safe” speed. Any faster, and you are a road-raging reckless driver.

              And so on.

          • re: clover on August 3, 2012 at 2:12 am

            I was passing the vehicle to my right. The lane I was in was clear to the horizon. Just because your kind is driving too far left imposes no obligation on my part to change lanes.

            The fact is you oppose any and all passing unless you’re doing the passing. You want to sit in the left lane and set the pace. You’re a control freak.

          • I know Brent, you make up your own rules. Because there is a car on your right it does not matter that you were passing two other lanes full of traffic on your left. Clover

            Go get some mental help! If you are incapable of deciding what laws are safe to not follow then follow all laws. Your breaking of the laws that you are choosing is endangering hundreds of people.

            I could care less if people pass if it is done safely. You have shown you are incapable of that.

            • “Go get some mental help! If you are incapable of deciding what laws are safe to not follow then follow all laws. Your breaking of the laws that you are choosing is endangering hundreds of people.”

              Another one!

              This is what we’re up against, folks.

              This is what has managed to gain control of most of the world….

          • Clover,

            RE: on August 3, 2012 at 2:12 am

            Please cite the law regarding:

            Mith.. I know the law. The law states that during heavy traffic there no such thing of left lane only to pass.

            Here is the statute for keeping to the right in New Jersey.

            NJ 39:4-82. Keeping to right

            The rest of your post (on August 3, 2012 at 2:12 am) is not on point.

            RE: clover on August 3, 2012 at 11:54 am

            I know Brent, you make up your own rules.

            Based on your writings: You not only make up your own rules, you change your rules to suit your whim.

            You are speaking in absurdities again.

            I find you boring and immature.

            You do not add anything constructive to this discussion.

            Your use of violence and lack of facts towards others does not strengthen your position.

            You need to go back under the bridge.

          • One more comment on lane discipline. When there is heavy traffic, interstates are no longer keep left only to pass. In heavy traffic all lanes are the same.


            There is a law that covers the situation you describe. Although from your writings it appears that you do not let the facts stop you from spouting your demands and/or opinions.

            39:4-85. Passing to left when overtaking; passing when in lines; signalling to pass; passing upon right

            … If vehicles on the roadway are moving in two or more substantially continuous lines, the provisions of this paragraph and section 39:4-87 of this Title shall not be considered as prohibiting the vehicles in one line overtaking and passing the vehicles in another line either upon the right or left, …

          • re:clover on August 3, 2012 at 11:54 am

            Clover’s Idol:

            None Shall Pass!

            BTW, and once again:

            (625 ILCS 5/11-704) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-704)
            Sec. 11-704. When overtaking on the right is permitted. (a) The driver of a vehicle with 3 or more wheels may overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle only under the following conditions:
            1. When the vehicle overtaken is making or about to make a left turn;
            2. Upon a roadway with unobstructed pavement of sufficient width for two or more lines of vehicles moving lawfully in the direction being traveled by the overtaking vehicle.

            Only in Clover’s world is someone driving in a single lane that is clear to the horizon at fault for being cut off.

    • Ah C’mon Eric… Why don’t you have one of every car you consider “wonderful?”

      Now if you could only get that one wish that every time you pulled a bill out of your pocket it was a 100 spot.

  2. By the way, I looked it up for the car with the 200 cu in 85 hp engine that I drove for a while as a company car and it is listed with a top speed of 92 mph. So much for the car with an 80 hp engine doing 110 mph.


    • Poor ol’ Clover! He’s shown to be wrong (and dishonest) yet again – yet won’t admit it and tries to change the subject….

      My Corvair – a car, a lightweight car, with a favorable aerodynamic profile – could easily achieve 100-plus MPH with an 80 hp (110 under the old, less accurate measure) engine. And cruise comfortably at 70. So also a car like the K-car.

      Neither of which are big, heavy – and underpowered – vans.

      • My 2001 VW Golf TDI (90hp 2.0L ) could drive at 110 mph.

        This was done once on I-70 between Baltimore and Hagerstown.

        • So mithrandir, did you have the 1.9L 90hp version or the 2.0L 115 hp version?

          PS: I am a troll! I do this for fun because I have erectile dysfunction and can’t get my jollies any other way.


          • Clover assures us that

            “I am a troll! I do this for fun because I have erectile dysfunction and can’t get my jollies any other way.”

            I tend to discount most of what clover says.

            But this particular statement has the ring of truth about it, so I’ll take him at his word.

          • Clover,

            Your question is answered in my post.

            For fun, I would recommend going outside and look at the beauty of nature.

          • Clover, actually that should be 1.9 L engine, not 2.0. the HP was correct though.

            the 115 HP 2.0L TDI PD engine was not offered in the US in 2001 IIRC. I do not know if it ever was offered in North America.

          • Bevin,

            Regarding Clover’s statements: Even a broken clock is right twice a day. 😉

            I guess I now know why Clover has not been able to keep his end up in the discussions on this site and clovercam.

    • Clover, you’re full of crap. I have personal experience with Ford straight sixes (200 and 250cid) that says so. The engines, rated at 85hp give or take, were still pulling at speeds in excess of 92mph. However the cars being shaped like airfoils was the problem.

      If you’re talking 92mph, its because you’re talking of installation into one of the bigger sedans. And then it’s not much off the mark even pulling all the extra weight.

          • Brent have you went for that mental help yet?

            “even pulling all the extra weight.” Mental problems I guess. The last I understood was extra weight is heavier. Clover

            You still miss the point. It is not really about top speed but cruising speed at decent gas mileage and to not destroy an engine after a few hours. If you run even close to the max speed of most vehicles your gas mileage sucks and rpms are way too high and acceleration is poor.Clover

            • “Brent have you went for that mental help yet? ”

              Clover, first take a course in remedial English grammar. Then we can address basic engineering and physics.

          • Yes Clover, I stated heavier and bigger. Do you have trouble with the english language?

            My ’73 Mav with a 250cid 6 and standard 3spd cruises just fine at 70-75mph. (although in modern traffic driving it this fast isn’t advisable because the brakes are decades behind everything else on the road, but the engine has no trouble with it) It was built before Nixon’s speed limit. And with 200ft-lbs of torque at 1600rpm and relatively flat curve of an inline 6 it accelerates just fine for what it is.

            Your babble simply makes no sense. The apparent reality is that you can’t control freak a limited access highway with a significant horsepower disadvantage and your animal tendencies cause you not to want to be one of the weaker animals on the road.

          • CloverI agree with you Brent. Do not drive an older car with less than perfect brakes because the way you drive you would be through the trunk of another car in less than a half a second. Are you still tailgating at 80 mph at about 15 feet? Did you ever seek out that mental help that you badly need?


            • Hey Clover,

              I bet when you’re out walking, you don’t use your body to obstruct other pedestrians. I bet you give way, and move over – because you don’t have a car cocooning your passive-aggressive self and would have to deal directly with the people you’re trying to impede.

              But in car, you feel safe – immune from retribution. Now you can show them! Now you can make them drive as you think they ought to be driving.

              Now, you have power!

              You know this to be the case. You know you would never dawdle down a busy street, with people piling up behind you. You’d very quickly step aside and let them by. So you do know better. You know it’s obnoxious and rude to block foot traffic. But in a car, the same thing becomes Clover’s prime directive.

              Why not just move over, Clover? Just as you would do – as I know you do – for people on the street?

          • Clover writes:

            “Did you ever seek out that mental help that you badly need?”

            Apparently he sought out the grammatical help he so badly needed.

            Alas, he has not “went for that mental help” that he still badly needs.

          • re: eric on August 1, 2012 at 10:25 am

            I bet Clover does impede people when walking, when in the grocery store, when anywhere. Not as violently but the same disregard for others and ass-backwards courtesy seems to be the norm everywhere. These people will block the way while walking and then demand other people politely ask to get past. It’s the same basic power trip.

            A bicycle trail is another place to see clover behavior outside the driving element. These people will walk or ride side by side blocking the trail for anyone faster. They fall into the unaware and the intentional blockers. At times I’ll go into the grass to get around them and they’ll get offended. See, I have to beg them for passage or something. It’s just a social power trip.

  3. I’m curious about the Citroen 2CV. I saw quite a few of them in France in the ’90s, and they looked like you could fold them up and take them home in the overhead luggage compartment. And contrary to popular belief, French engineering is excellent. Yes, I know the 2CV is a rough ride, but it was designed for farmers to drive across their fields and unimproved country roads. The suspension was not intended for highway driving. (Historical aside: the 1992 movie “Last of the Mohicans” used a 2CV as the film car for sequences in the woods…its suspension is that good for rough terrain.)

    I did a bit of searching on the web, but haven’t found out what gas mileage they got. Anyone have any idea? I’m guessing it was pretty good.

    • Dear Mike,

      The 2CV looked like it was cobbled up in some guy’s garage using flat metal panels. I’ve always liked that sort of “ghetto tech.”

      Actually the first generation Land Rovers looked kind of like that too.

        • Dear Tinsley,

          I never saw this vehicle before.

          But actually a lot of homemade vehicles similar to this can still be found on Taiwan.

          They’re three wheel motorcycles welded up from tubular steel, with a bed in the back. They’re slow as hell but carry a lot. Junk collectors drive them around town scavenging for recyclables.

    • mpg was not bad. IIRC, it was at least 50-60 mpg. My cousin owns 1 in Europe.

      A 0.6L engine that could drive 75mph if given enough time and a flat road. It could comfortably drive at 55-60mph for many hours at a time.

      It was a decent ride, although I would have a some difficulty driving the car due to short leg room. (seats could not move to adjust leg room)

      • Funny, so the car topped out at 75 mph and could only be driven at 55 to 60 mph for an extended period of time. So how do you determine the gas mileage? At what speed? What size is the gallon, imperial? If you designed cars in the USA with a maximum speed of 75 mph and could cruise only at 55 mph then you could easily see vehicles in the 50+ mpg range in the USA. How many of those would you sell in the states west of the Mississippi where speed limits are all 70 mph or more? Maybe city commuter cars where you never take them out on the interstate? On two lane interstates with 70 to 75 mph speed limits how do you think the road rage guys would handle such cars when they are basically a road block for half the lanes?

        • Clover, crunchy Clover… it’s just too easy to chew you up!

          The Autobahn example was mentioned earlier. Vehicles with 60 hp and top speeds of less than 100 MPH co-exist in harmony with 400 hp vehicles capable of (and which are driven) 150-plus MPH. Why? Lane discipline, paying attention to overtaking traffic before it overtakes you, etc.

          You know, behaviors foreign to people such as yourself.

          People who expect other drivers to defer to their dumbed-down, slow-moving, lane-blocking selves.

          • I have to laugh at your lane discipline Eric. What a joke. How would you like driving on a two lane interstate with a bunch of cars that can only travel 55 mph and the speed limit is 70? Would you chalk that up to lane discipline. I happen to have talked with people that exhibit road rage recently and if things like that occurred on a common basis they would either stroke out or start carrying guns to threaten the drivers to get off the road because a few drivers would then control one lane. I guess it is no different than today where the guys that say the left lane is only for people driving 25 mph over the limit or whatever. Everyone else stay the hell in the right lane.

            • And meanwhile, Clover, everyone else is laughing at you!

              If slower-moving traffic yields right – and stays right – there is no issue. This is exactly the situation on the German Autobahn.

              There is no reason – from a functional/design/engineering point of view – that it can’t be the situation here. Only it isn’t – because of Clovers!

          • Clover, you and the other road trolls drive with the purpose of angering other drivers. Stop complaining that you get the result you desire.

            Meanwhile in Germany people co-exist because there isn’t a speed limit for control freaks and trolls to exploit to play their little games.

            As to threatening other drivers, that’s what your kind does. You demand other people yield, you threaten them with collision if they don’t.

          • Dear Brent,

            “Clover, you and the other road trolls drive with the purpose of angering other drivers. Stop complaining that you get the result you desire.”


            I scanned some of your comments at clovercam pertaining to road etiquette.

            I agree. Clovers don’t realize how social and economic forces would impose greater order on society, including roadways, than top down clover laws such as speed limits.

            I am totally convinced that market based arrangements would lead to a far more efficient physical infrastructure and far greater social harmony.

            • Clovers expect other drivers to defer to them – the classic example being the slow-poke Clover with a conga line of cars stacked up behind him who absolutely will not either increase his speed or just pull off (or over) and let the cars behind him get past. He expects everyone else to drive at his speed – and be content.

              The Clover actually regards the drivers of the cars stacked behind him as “aggressive” and “full of rage.”

              The fact that they (Clovers) typically defend such conduct – and adamantly refuse to yield – tells us a great deal about their psychological make-up. They are the ones full of rage – passive aggressive rage.

              Why not just move right – or pull off for a moment and let the cars get by? What skin is it off the Clover’s nose?

              The answer is simply this: The Clover is the arbiter of all things. He insists that others drive as he drives. He is enraged by drivers who drive faster than he does – and which he looks upon as proof of “recklessness.” He cannot abide the idea that perhaps other drivers are higher skilled (or have more capable vehicles) and therefore wish to drive at a faster pace. Or that perhaps they have somewhere they need to be.

              His single goal is to impose his will on others.

              Rather startling when you think about it a bit!

          • I like that conga line statement. Tell us one thing, If people like Brent drive a maximum of 9 miles to work How much of a delay is it going to be if someone that drives 55 to 60 mph in front of him for a mile or two in a 55 mph zone? I was passed again today on my way home many miles out of town. When I and the driver that passed me got into town he was 25 seconds in front of me. Tell me how that is an economic benefit to the world except he used a lot more gas.


          • This last post by Clover, ( clover on July 30, 2012 at 10:51 pm ) sums up the control freak position quite nicely. The imposition of what they think is best, the imposition of their value system on other people.

            Bicycling I have had many a driver risk my life to get to a red signal first, or otherwise do something to where I caught up anyway. In many cases they expressed to me how I didn’t belong on the road, how I should drive a car, etc and so forth. In other words, this isn’t about speed at all. Because when the speed falls below the clover’s desires, the clover’s true agenda becomes more apparent. It’s about control and conformity.

            Fast drivers just pass me and go about their way. I don’t catch back up to them. It’s the clover who has to harass me while bicycling. Show me who’s boss. Teach me a lesson. The fast driver doesn’t pass me just to stop. The clover does.

            Also, something you don’t realize Clover, is just because a driver passes you and is then slowed down by another driver like yourself is not justification for your behavior.

            • Yup!

              A further elaboration of Clover control-freak-ism occurs when you try to pass a slow-moving Clover. The Clover will then speed up! It’s almost a mathematical axiom. The Clover will mope along at, say, 53 in a 55 (where traffic flow is 60-plus). You follow at a reasonable distance, waiting for a passing zone. When you get to the passing zone and begin to execute your pass, the Clover accelerates. A good (courteous) driver who is merely uncomfortable traveling any faster will tap his brakes and ease right as much as he can to facilitate your pass. The Clover will try to prevent you from passing. If he succeeds, he will then resume the previous (slow) speed. I’ve had Clovers in situations such as the above described run up to 75 MPH in an effort to prevent me from getting past.

              I’d bet our Clover is an avid practitioner of this art!

          • Clover,

            Nice attempt at diverting the issue of letting cars pass (when you have a line of ≥ 5 cars behind you) you or pick up the pace of your driving. Why should you be a jerk and hold up a line of cars when you could safely and easily pull over and let them by you? How much time would you add to your 16 mile trip if you pulled over to let the conga line pass you? If done twice during your trip that would be about 30-45 seconds in my opinion.

            Are 30 seconds of time and courtesy towards your fellow driver that difficult for you or any other driver?

            Tell us one thing, If people like Brent drive a maximum of 9 miles to work How much of a delay is it going to be if someone that drives 55 to 60 mph in front of him for a mile or two in a 55 mph zone?

            What speed are you saying that Brent is driving in the 55 mph zone? I cannot give an reasonable answer without all the necessary facts.

            At 100mph, 1 mile is about 36 seconds.
            At 80mph, 1 mile is about 45 seconds.
            At 70mph, 1 mile is about 51 seconds.
            At 60mph, 1 mile is about 60 seconds.

            Tell me how that is an economic benefit to the world except he used a lot more gas.

            Why do you get to decide how if another person uses his resources wisely or not.

            If he does not use his resources wisely he will suffer the consequences of his actions.

            If you use your resources wisely, then good for you.

            I will say that I have observed what you observed. Some one passing me and then I meet the same car at a later time or visa-versa. I did not know someone’s driving could contribute to the economic benefit (or detriment) of the world.

          • mithrandir, you are a mental case also. What gives me the right to determine how fast you drive? The law.

            Do trucks get to decide for themselves that they can go way over the weight limit of roads at whatever speed they feel like and tear up the road causing millions in damages?Clover

            Do drunks have the right to drive plastered and endanger hundreds of people?

            Do people with road rage have the right to endanger others?

            Does a blind person have the right to drive 65 mph down the interstate without help?

            Where does the rights that you say you have stop?

          • Dear Eric,

            “I’ve had Clovers in situations such as the above described run up to 75 MPH in an effort to prevent me from getting past.”

            We have all been there. I know I have. And that is the dead giveaway.

            If the clover was really about obeying “the rules,” if he was really a stickler for “obeying the law” he would never violate the rules or the law himself.

            If he was really all about “public safety” he would never endanger other peoples’ lives by pulling stunts like that.

            The fact that he feels justified in violating the very rules and laws he asserts are so sacrosanct, betrays his real motivation — the imposition of his will over others, by force if necessary.

            This is the mindset behind “champions of universal values” who have no qualms about bombing other countries into the stone age if they don’t adopt “liberal democracy.”

          • Eric, I’ve seen these drivers get up to 90-110mph to prevent someone from passing. If they had just been doing 70-75mph in the first place there wouldn’t have been anyone desiring to pass.

            There are no 55mph zones in my typical weekday driving. fastest is a 50mph zone. Many drivers do 35-45mph. There used to be a passing zone. When I used it the driver being passed would almost always accelerate and on one occasion freak out and attack. (woman, minivan)

            • Ditto, Brent.

              I actually once had a Clover physically block me with his car. He’d jerk over to the left lane to prevent me from getting past. It probably never entered his pea brain that his actions were infinitely more reckless than my “speeding.”

          • @clover on July 31, 2012 at 2:59 am,

            So your position is that of local a dictator. You proclaim “I am the Law” and everyone else mus bow to your every whim.

            You need to go back under the bridge.

            What gives me the right to determine how fast you drive? The law.

            You are mistaken. It is not your responsibility to enforce the law. For better or worse, LEOs have the job of enforcing the law.

        • Clover,

          Did you read and comprehend what I wrote?

          Funny, so the car topped out at 75 mph and could only be driven at 55 to 60 mph for an extended period of time.

          I could use a laugh instead of the normal drivel you type. What is funny about what I wrote?

          So how do you determine the gas mileage?

          I asked my cousin.
          He gave me a L/100km number. IIRC the number converted to the 50-60 mpg range.

          As a passenger, I observed the car to travel often @ 90-100kph with no straining of the engine. (level road, no traffic) When he told me that the car could travel at 120kph I was incredulous. He took the car up to 120kph with me in the car. It did take some time to get there on a level road and the engine was straining according to my ear.

          I almost never see road rage on the roads I drive. I often see clovers on the roads I drive.
          I doubt they (clovers) could handle:

          “. . .such cars when they are basically a road block for half the lanes?”

          Clovers, in general, appear to have difficulty with the road as it is today in the USA.

          Are you familiar with the 2CV? It was designed in the 1930s or 1940s. A 2CV was used in the film “For Your Eyes Only“.

          How many of those would you sell in the states west of the Mississippi where speed limits are all 70 mph or more?

          Does it matter? The car is popular and still used in Europe.

    • On the contrary, the 2CV’s ride quality is legendary for such a light car: and its handling is not to be sneezed at, either. This is due to an extremely clever suspension system in which front leading arms and rear trailing arms are linked by floating spring canisters located in pitch relative to the (very simple) frame via secondary springs. The principle is similar to that of the 1955-56 Packard “Torsion Level” system and the BMC Hydrolastic/Hydragas system, though those used torsion bars and hydraulic circuits, respectively, to achieve the same result.

      It is a principle in which I see a lot of potential, especially if like me one wants to have really good handling, a decent ride on roads that don’t enjoy a lot of public infrastructure investment, and simple separate ladder frames built by myriad small independent constructors, on which myriad small independent coachbuilders might build whatever bodies they think might be a good idea. Consequently I find all my automotive fantasies moving in that direction, including the Subaru-powered Minor.

      Minor pick-ups and vans had separate frames, the front part of which followed the detail of the passenger models’ unibodies. I see something slightly different, though; a straight-through parallel affair with an underslung DeDion axle at the back. One day.

      • Thanks for the info, Ned. I have no experience with the “deux chevaux”, and got my information from a person who was working at a business that imported parts for French cars. Amazing that there is a market for French auto parts, but there are apparently some die hard fans of French cars. I could become one of them, and would probably be shopping for a 2CV to tinker with, if I weren’t going to be getting out of this country in the next couple of years.

  4. They already have a safe fuel efficient car. It is the VW diesel in Germany. Youtube has a clip of an American who went to Europe and rented a VW diesel and the thing got 65 MPG with a car loaded with people and luggage. Came back to the states and asked VW dealers why the car he rented in Europe is not here. NOT ALLOWED. We even make those diesel engines here in America but they are shipped out to South America. It has to do with money/Taxes. Better gas mileage mean less gas tax revenue. Just watch the video clip on YOUTUBE.

    • Exactly right! “We” are like a sponge that is drying out. They want to wring out every last bit of good moisture left in it only to then dip it (saturate it) with toxins. The well is drying for the takers and they need to capitalize on whatever possible at this point. Using regulations is the trumpest of all trump cards.

      • Historically “They” always push until it becomes necessary to kill them. You’d think that “They” would have learned by now. Or maybe it’s just the sad truth that “They” manage to let the young Nobodys do the hands on dirty work and the dying for them. A few hangings could never atone for the slaughter and murder of millions anyhow.

        And by the way, who was hanged for the Katyn Forest Massacre? *GASP!* Nobody!?

        How many judges were sentenced to hang at Nuremberg?

  5. What about the Honda 600 Coupe Eric?

    A friend had one back in the late 70s/early 80s and it got 55 MPG at 55 MPH with 4 passengers and on gasoline not diesel.

    • Yup – there’s another one! Also the Renault LeCar – and probably a dozen others. Small, light – minimalist cars – that were great on gas and which delivered excellent value for the dollar.

  6. My 1990 base model Civic regularly returns 38-40 mpg in mixed driving. Has 315,000 miles on it and shows no sign of stopping any time soon. Even if it does, I’ll rebuild it. My car and I are often the butt of jokes since it is small and (by todays’ standards) crudely basic. It seems that an affordable, purposeful machine is not in style.

    This car far exceeds the CAFE standards of 1990, yet it was built anyway. It was built for people who wanted a quality car that got good economy. At the time, a lot of people bought these small hatchbacks. Those who wanted something else, bought something else.

    It makes no sense to impose higher CAFE standards if that is not what people want to buy. It is very clear that even in times of high fuel prices, consumers still opt for automobiles that use more fuel. From this, I see only two conclusions: 1. The legislators create laws contrary to those who voted for their representation or.. 2. The voting public is two-faced and through their votes attempt to force auto manufacturers to invest in product lines contrary to what is actually purchased. Neither possibility is very encouraging, is it?

    • I came to the conclusion that most americans believe laws are made for those other people, those problem people, over there, not themselves. Largely it is enforced that way.

      Take a generic american. He can have an SUV because he tows a pair of jet skis once a year or has three kids. Now those people down the block, they shouldn’t have an SUV because they only have one kid and nothing to tow. So he supports higher CAFE. For his neighbor. But not himself.

      Seems to work that way for every law.

      • Make the accusers – especially the confidential informers – perform the hands on arresting and punishing and see how quickly things change.

        Get government to do your dirty work for you and you can assure yourself that you are not responsible. But of course with a representative government, you are.

  7. I used to have a 1986 Honda CRX Si. This was the sporty model of Honda’s 2 seater CRX.
    I think the car had 110 hp. It needed about 150hp to really be sporty but it handled like a go-cart so I forgave the lack of power.
    On road trips driving 70 to 80mph this car got 38mpg. One trip included about an hour at 100mph and I still got 35 mph on that tank. Of course it was a light car with out 500 lbs of air bags and other stuff.

  8. VW has a car that gets 78mpg in europe,
    but NObama wont let it be sold in the USSA.
    The cancer (gov) wants their gas taxes to
    keep feeding the monster. The system
    doesnt want u to spend less on oil/gas,
    its all a charade. The system stifles
    any new technologies outside their
    controlled agenda, just ask Tesla why
    JP Morgan pulled funding on his ideas.
    We’ve been driving cars on pure water
    for 30yrs, but the system wont allow
    its growth.
    wiki BlueMotion

  9. I always recall the early Honda Civic and the remarkable mileage numbers it posted. If I recall correctly, they achieved it with a very lean burn, which had an emissions side-effect (high NOx?) that was eventually outlawed via regulation. So those high mileage numbers came down as the super-lean approach could no longer be used.

    Of course, the early Hondas were also very light. And the mileage came down as those cars got heavier too.

    • The transition period from carbs to electronic metering was a nightmare for the Mechtechs. I was a Mechtec from 4/61 until I retired in 1998. Had I actually been paid for my time I’d be a rich man today.

      The manufacturers simply had to be aware of some of the serious problems that still existed when the product was delivered. Mechtecs hate warranty work.

  10. New cars may be heavier but they have better aero dynamics, increased drivetrain efficiency and decreased rolling resistance. Direct injected engines, variable valve timing and turbo chargers are incredible. My Duramax Diesel, which is a 403 Cubic Inch Turbo Charged, Direct Inject Diesel, crosses the scales at 7200 LBS and achieves 22MPG on the highway at 80MPH. I tuned the computer myself.

    The real problem is the EPA. They tune cars to get poor fuel mileage. It is a conspiracy.

  11. This article made me sentimental for the old Datsun B-210s and Toyota Corollas from the 1970’s. They were fun (not too safe in a wreck, but hey—learn to drive), economical and very fuel efficient.

    • I remember those cars, too – which is a large part of the reason why the current situation seems so appalling to me. Today’s cars should be cheaper – and more fuel-efficient – than the cars of circa 1979. But, they’re not.

      Today’s cars are safer – if you crash. If you don’t, well, who cares how “safe” it is? I haven’t had an accident in 25 years. The “safety” of a car is thus irrelevant (or less relevant) to me than gas mileage, which is an every day, can’t avoid it reality. Give me the 45 MPG 1,800 lb. car that costs $8,000 over the 30 MPG 2,300 lb. car that costs $17,500!

      New cars are also more reliable – for the first several years of ownership. However, once you get to about 12 years out and 150,000 miles they start to become throw-aways because the cost to fix them becomes prohibitive relative to the value of the car itself. The old stuff required more frequent maintenance/tuning – however, the upside was you could keep such a car going almost indefinitely… economically.

      New cars perform much better than the old stuff. Which matters hardly at all – because we can’t use all that performance. Not legally, not practically.

      Drive much faster than about 80 MPH for any length of time – or frequently – and you will lose you license, or pay usurious insurance. Probably both. That’s if you live in an area where it’s even possible to drive that fast for more the occasional short burst – because of omnipresent Clovers blocking your path.

      The truth is that for real-world A to B driving in this country, something with the power/performance of a circa early ’80s K-Car is plenty sufficient.

      And at least the K-Car got 45 MPG – and cost a fraction of what a typical new car costs today.

      • Eric forget it. You do not remember the old days. I guess you never drive west of Virginia? Here is a quote I found about your K car ” By 1980-81, it was imperative to have small, efficient cars in the ….. had a top speed of about 70mph (1600cc motor screaming like a banshee!).”

        Try driving that car where the speed limit is 70 to 75 mph! Try driving that car up your local mountain. You would have a hard time keeping up to that fully loaded semi ahead of you.

        • Clover I own a 1700cc turbocharged 4 door sedan that does just fine running up mountains and doing 80 on the freeway.

          I don’t get the comment.

          • Scott, you’re not going to get the comment! That is clover’s nature. I remember being at the races back in Okinawa and watching a turbo charged 660cc car with a live rear killing everything that pulled up next to it.

          • Scott, your 1700 cc is about 600 to 700 more ccs than what Eric’s article was about. Your 1700 cc engine probably has about 2 to 3 times the hp that the 1980 1700cc motor would have had. If you read more closely Eric is against the modern engine. I wish you would have read what I wrote before complaining about what I wrote.

            • Here we go again, Clover!

              The 1980 Aries K car had a standard 2.2 liter, 84 hp engine (increased to 94 hp in 1983). Scott’s Porsche (about 80 hp) would have to produce 160-240 hp to be “2-3 times the hp” of the K-Car’s engine.

              You really ought to at least try to get your info straight before you display your wares…

              Here’s a good place to learn some more about the K car:


            • Hey Clover –

              As usual, you choose to evade the point made – and try to argue against something not claimed. I guess that’s what a Clover has to do when it knows it has no argument!

              I specifically noted that the Morris is not suitable for highway driving – but that it would (and did) make a for an economical – and fun – “city” car.

              I doubt you’ve ever owned or even driven one, so of course, you’re just pulling your Cloverite opinions out of your chocolate starfish again.

              I, meanwhile, have owned – and driven – cars like the Morris. Including several old VWs and a first generation Corvair.

              The Corvair easily maintained 75 MPH. I owned mine until 2004, incidentally – so yes, I did drive it in the modern driving environment. And specifically, in the Northern Virginia driving environment. It was as comfortable to drive – more so, actually – than some modern economy cars. Because it had very light steering, was extremely agile and had superb visibility all around, due to the low-back seats and extensive glass area.

              Of course, such facts don’t penetrate the skull of Homo Cloveronious.

          • Thinking about it Scott, your 1700 cc engine probably has more like 5 times or more hp than a 1700 cc engine in 1980.


            • Clover, it’s clear – as usual – that you didn’t think about it. Scott’s 914 produces around 80 hp. The 1980 K car actually made more hp – 84.

              The K car weighed about 2,300 lbs. The Porsche about 2,000.

              Both cars had decent power to weight ratios.

              The Porsche, of course, was a sports car – so it was quicker.

              But the point remains: Both cars had sufficient power – ample for the driving conditions back then, when there was less traffic and you could drive faster more often than you can today.


          • Clover, I wasn’t talking about what Eric wrote. You wrote: “1600cc motor screaming like a banshee!” then suggested it wouldn’t be happy where speed limits were 70 to 75 mph.

            I owned a 1972 1700cc 914 that I ran up and down the very same mountain I drive today without problems. It had a top speed of 110 mph. It was an air cooled type 4 VW bus engine, they made millions of them and quite a few are still on the road today.

        • Clover, why can’t you make a proper cite? BTW I found it, it was just some guy commenting with his own memories. The dodge aries K had 85hp, enough to hit 100mph at its weight.

        • Thinking about it Clover, the ’72 914 in a normally aspirated 1700cc flat four produced about 80 hp and had a top speed of 115 mph. The ’98 Audi A4 turbo at 1700+cc produces about 140 hp and has a top speed of about 135 mph.

          So no, a factor of 5 would not be in the ballpark. Even a factor of 2 would be a significant overstatement. You can look this stuff up on Wikipedia.

        • Clover, you’re wrong again!

          The K car’s top speed was not “70-75 mph.” I mentioned already the car’s hp (84) and curb weight (2,300 lbs.) This is a pretty decent power to weight ratio and if you knew anything about cars, you’d know it was plenty sufficient to get to 100 MPH-plus and comfortably sustain 70 mph on the highway. These cars had very favorable gearing (even without overdrive transmissions) and because they were light and had not much rolling resistance, their performance was actually quite solid.

          In fact, the K car could get to 60 MPH in about 11 seconds with the manual transmission – same range as a new Prius hybrid.

          You’re the Sergeant Schultz of EPautos, Clover. You know nothing! Nothing!

          • OK Eric you win. I used to drive car with a 200 cc engine that if I remember right was 85 hp. It was capable I guess of 100 mph down hill. Up your normal mountain it would not have kept up to 55 mph.

            Yes Scott says his 1972 1700cc engine got up to 110 mph. I know that is not possible for a 1700 cc engine in its day unless it had multiple carbs. Not what you would find on a vehicle that gets 50 mpg. I know an 80 hp car is not capable of that unless it is an aerodynamic car like a Prius and takes a minute more getting there. One thing that Eric does not understand is that weight of a vehicle has little to do with max speed on a flat course. Wind resistance is the main drag on top speed.

            • Ah, Clover… such a treat you are!

              A 200 cc engine that made 85 hp? Now that would be something! Where can I obtain such a miracle engine? (For reference, a two-stroke engine of 250 CCs can make about 35-40 hp if “built.”)

              And while I can’t speak directly, with authority, on the issue of the top speed of Scott’s Porsche, I can speak directly – and with authority – on the top speed of my 1964 Corvair coupe. It had the 110 hp (old standard, SAE “gross” – so probably about 80-90 actual SAE net hp) engine and 4-speed manual and would do every bit of 100 MPH. I expect Scott’s similarly powerful but lighter and more aerodynamic Porsche would do at least as well.

              On weight/top speed: Ok, let’s take a Bugatti Veyron and remove its 1,500 hp engine. Replace it with a K-car engine. Will the Veyron still reach 240 MPH? Do you really think so? Will it even reach 100 MPH? (The Veyron weighs about twice what a K-car weighed, FYI.) Want to guess? Want to bet?

              Clover, who the fuck are you to even be discussing these issues? Issues you’ve demonstrated you know nothing about?

              You’re a joke. A laughingstock. We keep you around because you amuse us.

          • My daily transport is a VW Golf Mk1 with a bog-standard 1781cc single-2bbl EA827 engine in it. Ages ago it was claimed to make 92bhp: it has since served many years as a heavily-pressed workhorse. I would count myself lucky to have a real 75bhp at the flywheel. I’ve nevertheless had it up to an honest 125mph several times in the past year. It really isn’t that difficult!

          • re: clover on July 27, 2012 at 6:50 pm

            200 CID Clover. Inches, not centimeters.

            I’ve had experience with three ford small block straight 6s of 200 and 250 cid. All could get the cars they were in up to 100mph, and one was driven through the rocky and big horn mountains with out issue.

            You’re full of crap as always Clover.

          • Eric says “On weight/top speed: Ok, let’s take a Bugatti Veyron and remove its 1,500 hp engine. Replace it with a K-car engine. Will the Veyron still reach 240 MPH? Do you really think so? Will it even reach 100 MPH?”

            That is not what weight affect on top speed means at all. Take a Prius or whatever car you want and check the top speed with one driver. Add a couple of people and the top speed of that car will be very very close to the same as with one driver. That is the effect of weight on top speed. There would be a minimal affect on rolling resistance which may drop the speed a couple of mph or whatever but the wind resistance which is the major problem for increasing speed would not change. The top speed difference would be very little. I would think a car expert would know that.

          • Clover, F=ma, Ff=mu*N, Fd=0.5pv^2CdA, T=rF

            No I am not going to explain it to you. Doing so is like arguing with a pig.

            Your inability to understand even basic science while having strong opinions of things where it matters reminds me of rothbard quote:
            “It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.”

        • Cloveroni –

          I lived in the DC metro area for 20-plus years – and drove daily from the Northern Virginia suburbs into DC and back for years in an air-cooled 60 hp VW Beetle. It was not out of its depth dealing with what is without question one of the most hectic, fast-paced and traffic dense driving environments in the country. As comfortable as a current-era car? No, of course not. But it was competent, capable A to B transpo.

          A K-car – which was more powerful, quicker and faster than the Beetle – would have no trouble dealing with this environment. Hell, they did deal with it.

          I grew up in the DC area. I was there when K-cars were abundant. And DC area traffic in the mid-late 1980s was already a nightmare. Don’t tell me otherwise, Clover – because I lived it. Unless you did, too – you have nothing more to say on the subject.

          I drive more cars in six months than you’ve probably driven in your entire life, Clover.

          I’ve test-driven thousands of cars.Everything from a WWI-era La France fire engine to a brand-new Bentley.

          And you’re telling me about cars?

          • Dear Eric,

            I can confirm that. Not that it’s necessary of course.

            I lived in the greater DC area for four to five years back in the early 60s. First in NW, then in Silver Spring, Maryland. I began driving about that time.

            My dad had an early 60s VW Beetle. I learned to drive on his car. Once you became adept at moving up and down through the gears, and didn’t miss any shifts, you really had no problem keeping up with traffic.

            Years later I owned my own Beetle in Houston, Texas, which is a lot like LA. People drove everywhere on the freeways. Not having a car there was like not having legs. The Beetle had no problem keeping up there either.

            And this was way before the idiotic 55 mile national speed limit.

            Besides, if you think about it, Germans were driving Beetles on the AutoBahn, with NO upper speed limit. They managed fine.

          • When I was in Germany for work for a couple weeks I saw 2CV’s and I think a few bugs (it’s been too long) on the rural autobahn. They didn’t really ‘keep up’ with what was a 90-100mph pace speed but the lane discipline meant it did not matter. Because everybody drove in a disciplined manner, all vehicles could co-exist easily.

            Remember our dear Clover isn’t a keep right except to pass disciplined driver. Clover is a ‘right lane is the ramp lane, I-have-a-right to do the way under posted speed limit in the left lane north american driver. For someone like Clover these cars are a nightmare. Imagine trying to control freak a limited access highway with 200+ hp disadvantage.

            Plus there’s another thing, american driving is about might makes right now more than ever. There’s a huge social animal thing going on. Clovers are social animals. Social animals gravitate towards vehicles which symbolize their animal side.

            People like Eric, Dom, myself, and others here all have a set of wildly different vehicles. Simply because we are about the machines not sending a social animal message. But the masses… they are sending a message to the other animals. I can see it by how people react to me depending on what I take out on the road. I’m the same, I drive or ride everything I have much the same way. But the way the other people treat me is way different for each depending upon the social animal message that vehicle sends to them.

            So imagine what a tiny 60-95hp car is to someone who uses their vehicle to send a social animal message. To a clover it means being that old or very young animal at the back of the herd that gets eaten by a predator.

            • Hey Brent!

              “Clovers are social animals. Social animals gravitate towards vehicles which symbolize their animal side. ”

              Truer words were never spoken. I’ve noticed this – deal with this – constantly. For me, it’s even more exaggerated – because I have these new cars coming and going each week, in addition to my own small fleet of vehicles. I’m the same guy – but what a difference the vehicle makes!

              And, addendum: The phenomenon is even more noticeable in an area such as Washington DC – Clover Capital, USA. I bet Dom can amen me on this one…

          • I have no problem with 60 to 90 hp vehicles on the road. It is the road rage people that keep in the right lane driving 80 to 85 mph that expect you to get the hell out of their way that we worry about. Try to merge with people like that with road rage when your vehicle maxes out at 80 mph and takes you a minute getting there.


            • Clover, it’s people such as yourself who are afflicted with rage. Passive-aggressive rage. Rage at those who drive faster than you think appropriate.

          • Clover:
            1) low hp cars should never have an AT.
            2) Learn to start accelerating while on the ramp.

            I only car I ever had a problem merging with was a Ford Tempo with an AT.

  12. “I’m on serious painkillers.”

    And to get them you either had to get permission from a licensed agent of the State called “Doctor” or purchase them on the Black Market.

    I contend that interfering with an Individual’s natural right to relieve his own suffering is a crime of force. An adult human being should be able to purchase his drugs of choice without interference and punishment.

    No Power that contravenes the Principles underpinning the non-amendable Unanimous Declaration has lawful authority.

    • It is incredibly obnoxious, isn’t it?

      Most of us grew up with the system this way, so we tend not to think of it as bizarre – let alone vicious – that “the law” makes it a crime for an individual to self-medicate in whatever way he sees fit. Or forces him to pay an intermediary a high mark-up to obtain what he needs/wants and could otherwise obtain cheaply and with far less hassle.

      • Not only is it obnoxious, it is criminal. Forcibly withholding the means to relieve suffering is morally equivalent to inflicting the suffering.

        • Absolutely.

          What kind of sick, soul-less bastard would point a gun at a fellow human being merely for trying to ameliorate his pain?

          It is an inconceivable thing to me.

          • Eric, I just don’t think that many Individuals apply the Critical Thinking necessary to see it. Amazingly, many remain unaffected by it after it has been pointed out.

            • Agreed –

              However, what sets a human being apart from a mere animal is his capacity to think. A person who fails to use this capacity chooses to remain an animal.

              It is not a question of high intelligence. Any person who is not sub-normal has the capacity to reason. To think.

              The tragedy of humanity is that probably not more than 1 out of a 100 actually do choose to think.

              They prefer to have others do their thinking for them; to feel.

              Clover is the archetype.

          • eric, people who choose not to think and reason do what you have written before, they emote.
            Einstein had 2 greate quotes that apply to lack of critical thinking:
            “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the the universe.”
            “He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.”

      • You have to pay the gatekeeper fee. Many illnesses, which require an anti-biotic, which are easy to diagnose and quick to treat require you to go to the doctor–going through the whole dog and pony show. It’s amazing how the internet (or experience) has made it much easier to self-diagnose… and the medical system has made it all but impossible to treat yourself.

  13. 2 Friends bought a brand new LUV 4WD diesel pickup around 1980. It got 45mpg+. They drove it flat out to the drilling rig and back every day. Sold it with well over 100,000 miles, got a good price. Drilling company didn’t even care they used diesel they got at the rig since it used so little. They’d haul the crew coming off or going on to a decent road when it was too muddy for anything else, made money doing that too. I’d LUV to have one in good shape and put a turbo and an old radiator for an aftercooler on it with that cheap tuneable Holly fuel injection or similar straight throttle body type FI. No telling how many mgp it would get.

    • I remember the Luv, too!

      Also, the Rabbit (diesel) pickup. So slow it made a Prius look quick – but the little SOB got as good or better mileage without all the hybrid complexity/cost.

  14. I learned my “wrenching” on British iron. I often reminisce on the fuel economy, and downright FUN, those cars delivered. I had a Morris Minor, sold the 850 cc engine to fit a customer’s dead Sprite. Later I scrapped a sprite and took back the 1098 cc engine, same block casting. I dropped this into the Morris with the old 948 head from the blown Sprite I had repaired… using the single 1 1/8 inch SU carburetter from the original Morris. That silly thing would cruise at what I gathered was 80 mph (it read 3/4 full on the fuel guage at the bottom of the dial) and deliver 42 mpg. TOday, were I to “tune” one in build, mild cam changes, the Pertronix electronc ignition system, mild compression increase, larger tube exhaust, and change the final drive gearing to slow down the larger, healthier engine about twenty percent, I’ve no doubt I could cruise at 80 and find about 45 mpg in so doing. HOWEVER, the tiny drum brakes, single circuit, would tend toward the white knuckle end of the driving continuum.

    Sprites would regularly get 46-8 mpg at illegal speeds. MGA, and the later MGB, came in at just over 40 mpg stock, and had brakes and handling down well.

    The most amszing ones, though, were the Volvos, a marriage of English power and solid european suspension, safety, coachwork, and brakes. A number of them I owned or drove, or worked on, from the late 1950’s 544 through the early 70’s 142/4/5 cars, would, when properly tuned (stock, but put “on point” well) cruise at 85 mph all day long, plenty of reserve power, and consistently deliver 42 mpg on cheap regular, and last a quarter million miles. Excellent brakes, handling, interior and comfort, they could press anything out there for road handling, and just keep on taking it. I believe their secret comprised the perfect blend of open breathing, those wonderful SU carburetters, Bosch electricals, four wheel disc brakes (starting in 1967 with the 142/4/5 cars). Those engines, stock, would rev to 7500 pulling, and hold it indefinitely.

    One more amazing car from those days is the Mini, same coachwork but branded by Morris, Austin, and MG. The original 1959 model carried the tiny 850 cc BMC “B” engine, single 1 1/4 SU, transverse front mount, front drive. I had a couple, friends had more… they would all turn 65-60 MPH all day, and deliver 55 mpg. More back seat head and hip room than in a Mustang, they handled better than anything else on the planet. Larger and more pophisticated engines, up to the 1275 cc Cooper version, all on the same block, would deliver the same mileage at the same speed…. yet when one pressed them, particularly the “stage 3 Cooper S state of tune, they would out accelerate most anything on the road, and corner on their inside line at ten miles an hour faster. The worst mileage I ever observed was a mere 42 MPG in the 1275 Cooper S Stage Two, pressed to the limits on windy two lane country roads….. gobbling up anything in its path, pedal all the way “loud”… and they call those heavy, gutless, boxes with styling slightly reminiscent of that wondercar the new “mini”… sorry, lads, it is wanting quite a bit to wear that title. I’d far rather pay ten thousand for the pre-1964 Mini with that 1275 engine, front disc brake conversion, perhaps the “countryman” coach option, than have one of the new “minis” given me tax paid.

    • Tionico,

      These cars were a little before my time but I’ve been lucky enough to get to play with a couple, including our neighbor’s ’70 Morris. As you’ve said: Great little cars! Fun to work on – and fun to drive. They reward your senses – and gratify your intelligence – in a way that modern cars just don’t. Because they make sense. Cars like these, people could actually use – and afford. And keep up with themselves, too.

      I miss them.

  15. I had never even heard of a Morris Minor until I came on this site. I have to say it looks like a great car. I have re-built several VW’s so I am wondering what the learning curve is like on these. If I could find one, what am I looking for? Is it even possible to find parts? I showed some pics to my wife and she loved it. I love a challenge and something new, plus I kinda promised my wife that this winter’s car project would be something for her. Summer is already slipping away and I still haven’t found the right “one” yet.

    It’s cold up here in the winter and I like having something to keep me motivated. (I take winters off and tend to pack on the pounds if I don’t have something to do) So any advice would be very much appreciated.

    • Brad, very simple mechanically, and almost all spares are freely available (in the UK at least). Because it’s got a tall engine in a bay designed for a wide engine, service access is very good indeed.

      Problem areas are rust to the underside of the unibody, especially the front “chassis legs” and the areas of floor around the forward rear spring perches. Patch panels and replacement assemblies are available.

      Watch out for the 803/early 948 gearboxes. The cases are made of a kind of photo-sensitive plaster of Paris that BMC developed specially, which spontaneously cracks when you look at it. Later, ribbed cases are much stronger.

      Conversions and kits abound for the Minor: Fiat twin-cam swaps, Ford T9 gearboxes, disc brake kits, telescopic damper kits, Ford Escort Mk1/2 rear axles, etc. etc. etc.

      Likewise there are many clubs and internet forums. Here are two in which I participate:

      See also:

    • I’ve been working on the ’70 owned by our friends down the road and have found it to be among the easiest cars to work on that I have ever worked on. As Ned says, access to the little engine is outstanding. The ’70 I work on has a few modifications, including electronic ignition (no points), oil filter adapter (so you can use modern spin-ons) and a “performance” exhaust.

      Really fun little buggy! Very easy to drive, too. Light clutch, steering, etc. Not a beast like a lot of cars from that era were. The one owned by our friends is mostly “her” car. She gets a lot of attention as it’s an unusual sight – probably the first Morris Minor most people around here have ever seen in the flesh.

      The right hand drive is something you don’t see in the US too often outside of Postal vehicles.

  16. A few things from a Morris Minor owner:

    I still maintain that the SU constant-vacuum carb is as good as TBI for all conditions except perhaps stop-go traffic, given the right needle profile. And that is a matter of analysing data from an O2 sensor and cutting a needle. I like the idea of using computing for what it’s good for and then ceasing to be dependent on it.

    The Minor was developed during WWII, initially around a flat-four engine (which is why I can’t stop myself dreaming of a Subaru EJ swap – with SUs!) The first series (MM) appeared in 1948 with the old 918cc flathead four. The A-series engine was fitted after Austin and Morris merger of 1952, by which time it had been in production for a year for the Austin A30. Fitted with the 803cc A-series, the Series II was probably slightly more economical, if slightly slower still, than later models. My 1958 1000 has a 948cc A-series. Eric’s friends’ one will have the 1098cc unit introduced for 1962.

    The point is, the Minor embodies technology that was already conservative in 1962. But the remarkable thing about cars of this kind is, as Eric mentions, their low density. The Minor is well over twelve feet long but weighs a mere 1750lbs. This is the opposite of the modern small car, which might more appropriately be called a “city car” because it capitalizes on shortness rather than lightness – and as I’ve said before, a city car is not something that is consistent with any kind of sanity. The Minor and its ilk are rather suited to extra-urban use in a context that lacks the high-speed infrastructure and consequent weight of traffic we have today: in other words, the British countryside of 1950 or so.

    The Minor in particular is heaps of fun at 45mph, being extremely responsive in all its movements, if not very capable in absolute terms. It wants to be driven the way one would drive a Lotus 7, only not as fast. Absent the need to keep up with 80mph traffic on wide, boring roads built to a 120mph design speed, something like that is just the thing.

  17. How about the 1962 Renault Dauphine? Now there was a funky little car. I spent the my early childhood in the back seat of one of those. I can still remember the smell of it, something about the vinyl seats was unique. Anyway, it got about 40 mpg and they started making it in the fifties.

    And what about the Austin Healey Sprite? 36 mpg and fun to drive! built back in 1962! I saw a ’67 on the market for $2500 just last year, looked like it was in great condition.

    • Please excuse my composition and spelling today, I just had a tooth pulled and a titanium screw sunk in my lower jaw. I’m on serious painkillers. I was supposed to have two screws installed but the dentist accidentally drilled to deep on the upper one and ended up punching through to my sinuses. Talk about the mother of all headaches…

        • PS: Needless to say, I’ve decided to go to Buenos Aires to have the screw put in after the wound heals, which I’m told should take about 6 months. Believe it or not, this was the *best* dentist I could find in the area of the US I’m in…

          • Ah, we can all look forward to increasingly incompetent medical care henceforth.

            What happened in the Soviet Union will come here. Anybody with a brain will steer clear of medicine as a career; it’s a loser’s game now unless you’re really an altruist.

            To fill the rolls, the Soviets graduated doctors that a generation before wouldn’t have made it as nurses. Even when I was in school twenty years ago, I was a bit disappointed; lots of affirmative action. Patients be damned! We’ve got politics!

            The doctor scene in “Idiocracy” comes to mind.

            • The affirmative action thing is especially troubling. And not just for the would-be patient.

              Black doc comes in. Patient – rightly – worries that doc may be an affirmative action case.

              Doc, meanwhile, will probably never get the same respect a white doc receives almost automatically.

              For exactly the same reason.

          • The way I see it is that doctoring is now only a profession for those who are good at school. Those who are institutionalized. Those who do as they are told. Those who do not rock the boat. Those who cannot think for themselves but are merely good at passing tests and getting licenses.

            There are still some doctors who don’t fit this mold but they are hunted and run out of the profession should they get off the program either medically or economically. The harassment for doctors who go outside the hassle free zone is considerable.

            It’s going to get much worse, but it’s already a profession where competency and thinking for one’s self is not appreciated.

          • Dear Scott,

            “Believe it or not, this was the *best* dentist I could find in the area of the US I’m in… ”

            To quote Geena Davis in “The Fly,”

            “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

          • Dear Methyl, Bevin and Eric –

            First, thanks to all of you for the condolences. Strange that I’ve never met any of you but still find some comfort in sharing the pain 🙂

            Methyl I appreciate your analysis and I think you’ve got a good point. Medicine, like engineering and the other applied sciences involves risk on the part of the practitioner, whatever discipline it might be. I think engineers in general suffer quite a bit for their mistakes, and I include medical doctors and dentists in that category. People just expect things to work the first time every time and of course you and I both know that doesn’t always happen.

            Having a whole bunch of people stand behind you and kibitz is no incentive. I would not, in today’s society, practice software engineering for profit. It truly amazes me there are MD’s and DDS’s who’re willing to do so since their burden is more direct.

            If I sounded ungrateful it was only because I was in pain and things didn’t work out as expected. My dentist is in fact a fine man and did a very good job under difficult circumstances. I hope that doesn’t make me sound like I suffer from Stockholm Syndrome; I really do appreciate the fact that some things are complicated, there are unknowns; and of course, shit happens 🙂

            As an engineer and scientist I would make a fool of myself saying anything else.

      • Dear Scott,

        I loved the old “Spridgets.” They were basically Morris Minors with roadster bodies.

        Also the Triumph Spitfire. It was basically a Triumph Herald with a roadster body.

        Car makers did that a lot back then. The Mustang was basically a Ford Falcon with a 2+2 GT car body.

        I wish some of the carmakers today would the same thing with their subcompact three and five door hatchbacks. Turn them into two seater roadsters for rock bottom prices.

        But chances are gubmint “safety regulations” would get in the way.

          • Scott,

            The folks here are opposed to forcing things down people’s throats – things like “safety” (or “fuel efficiency”). We advocate letting people decide for themselves – and exchanging freely among themselves.

            So, for example, we’d like people to be able to choose high-economy affordable cars that might be a bit less theoretically “safe” as opposed to being forced to buy much less economical (but “safer”) cars that cost a small fortune.

            A car like the old Beetle (and the Morris Minor) cannot legally be sold here anymore – because it doesn’t meet government “safety” requirements.

            That sucks.

            Granted, the old Beetle was not as crashworthy as any modern car with air bags and crumple zones. But some people would probably prefer the simple, low-cost, high-efficiency 1,600 lb. car over the complex, costly and not so efficient car. Why should they be denied the choice? Why should government – that is, people who control the machinery of state violence – make the choice for them?


          • Dear scottindallas,

            To address your second point first: In case you came in late, libertarians believe in liberty. That’s why they’re called “libertarians.” We don’t believe in violating the non-aggression axiom.

            LewRockwell.com Podcast #11 – The Non-Aggression Axiom

            This lies at the very heart of libertarianism.

            Re: little roadsters

            The Mazda Miata has long been one of my favorite cars, ever since I rode in a first generation model belonging to a woman friend of mine in the 80s.

            The Miata is a terrific value at only 25K retail.

            What I was getting at was that if car makers weren’t bound hand and foot by gubmint regulations, they could probably make three and five door hatchbacks for under 10k, and two seater roadster versions for roughly the same price.

        • They were also built on a chassis. It was fairly easy to remove the body and bolt on whatever you wanted.

          Hence the 1970s DIY dune buggies made from a VW Beetle.

          • Dear Eric G,

            I miss the old body on frame vehicles.

            They made a lot of sense in their own way.

            One idea that has floated around in my head for years is to take a mechanically sound but boring old sedan with body on frame construction, cut the top off and have yourself an instant el cheapo topless cruiser.

            There’s something about not having a top that instantly gives even some old beater extra class. Sort of “cheap chic.”

            I remember seeing some old “slob comedy” in which the protagonist drove just such a vehicle. I was some old full sized American sedan which clearly had the top sawed off with a sabre saw or welding torch. Wish I could remember the name.

            • I’m also a full-frame guy!

              Among the advantages: Easy replacement of most body panels relative to a unibody. Also, much sturdier – it takes more to hurt one seriously and they are usually less expensive to fix because it’s harder to hurt the structural elements of the car.

              My ’70s-era ‘Bird is a hybrid of sorts. It has a conventional bolt-on from subframe that holds the engine, transmission and front suspension. But from the cowl area back, the car is a unibody!

        • I drove a Midget for years, and my (future) wife had a Spitfire. They had the same 1500 cc motor in them (that was the *big* motor!) , but the Spitfire was so much easier to work on! It had the swing-up front end, so you just lifted the whole front up and out of the way, then sat on the tire and got to work with your feet in the engine compartment. Working on the Midget was like doing laproscopic surgery through it tiny little hood (bonnet, sorry) opening 🙂

          As hard as I tried, I couldn’t get my Midget past 99,000 miles before I gave up on it. My Miata looks like it might last forever, though.

          • Dear Derek,

            Good for you. A real classic two seater roadster afficionado!

            The Miata is basically an updated, reliable version of the old British two seater roadsters, without the godawful Lucas electrics.

            Speaking only for myself, I like all sorts of cars. If the car has “character” then I like it. I like everything from Spitfires to Road Runners.

            It doesn’t matter that the Spitfire did 0-60 in 15.5 seconds, whereas the Road Runner did 0-60 in 5.6 seconds. Both had character.

            I even like some of the current batch of tiny hatchbacks, such as the Honda Fit and the Mazda 2. These sell for 15k. Without crippling gubmint regulation, you just know they could sell for well under 10k.

          • Ahhh, dear Bevin. Your post reminds me of my old Triumph TR-6. I loved that car, except for the Lucas electrical system. The biggest problem was the headlight switch, which kept breaking. (Loads of fun driving home from the bar at night when you can’t turn on your headlights. lol) I finally replaced it with a simple generic toggle switch. It looked really tacky but it got the job done. And it never broke.

          • Dear Mike,

            You had a TR-6? The bigger Triumphs were actually fairly gutsy in the power department.

            If memory serves me, they had considerably larger, torquier engines than their rivals at MG. Inline sixes instead of fours.

            I’m sure you know the old joke about the British and warm beer. That always gets a laugh no matter how many times I hear it.

          • Dear Mike,

            So Lucas couldn’t even get a simple toggle switch to work reliably.

            A simply “either/or” click it’s on, click it’s off device to work as well as a generic toggle switch purchased from Radio Shack or Pep Boys.

            That takes some doing!

          • Yes, Bevin, I had a TR-6. And inside the switch, the workings were made of cheap plastic that kept breaking. Other than that, the car was fantastic. It was loads of fun to drive on the back roads of North Carolina. And yes, it had an in line 6. Quite zippy, and it handled great.

    • I bought a suzuki swift from a guy for $800.00 once (< 60K), it wouldn't start for him and I'd found it needed a $50.00 pickup coil by myself. Wow was I thrilled I got a great car for a simple electronics fix, lord does love me I don't even have to get my hands greasy I thought. Man did I think I had won the jackpot with this killer of deal, as it had a dual overhead cam and it was a rocket compared to the GEO its cousin. The first day I brought this to work I was showing a fellow co-worker my deal, he closed the passenger door and the back window fell out hanging by a cord (I kid you not). Then about a month after driving the thing I find the starter motor just fell out, I tried all kinds of crap to that starter motor to get it to stick, locktite on the threads, cheater wrenches (almost to stripping the loose threads). Hell I'd even thought if they did cross strip I might get the starter motor to stay in place for a week. The best I got about two weeks interval to go in and retighten all the nuts and bolts on this thing. There would good times in that go-cart, travel and people would look at envy at my gas bill. It was good on gas, it was a rice rocket! Man that thing ripped. A go cart with a jet engine strapped on it, through that cardboard frame I could hear the gravel like my feet were about to drag like the flinstones. The unforgivable sin of it however, one time on a lonely highway it blew the major fuse. Not sure what the hell caused that. There I was like McGyver 2:00 am on a desolate road (looking for a bubble gum wrapper or spare high Amp fuse) with my flashlight, searching for the problem nearly getting rammed in the ass by a trucker because I had no functioning tailights –no power (yes I know I should've had flares I was young and dumb) and to beat all hell when it lost battery power, the entire auto transmission was locked in driving gear by a solenoid that would not allow me to go to neutral to push it off the road. Dark and stuck in the middle of the F road…without a flare, without tail lights, without a fuse, what is a know it all man supposed to do? That dark hellish road a nightmare and still living to tell the story I sold my light love rocket. I was kinda sad to let it go…kinda glad I got to tell my story without dying…I still admire the small size and small gas bill…sigh…where art thou suzuki love???

      • Previous poster mentioned:

        The premise was simple, you could only acheive 2 of the 3 because those 3 criteria couldn’t occupy the same space.

        Good+Inexpensive=Not Fast
        Fast+Inexpensive=Not Good”

        Given the intersection of these points makes a nice triangle…Id advocate you don’t forget to include the extra space coordinate of safety (based on my previous story…smile).

        • Dear Rod,

          Fortunately “not good” is broad enough a definition that many car buffs can live with it.

          For example, some of the old muscle cars were

          fast+inexpensive=not good

          To wit, the Plymouth Road Runner.

          But “not good” meant vinyl bench seats, rubber floor mats, and an AM radio, as opposed to the “good” hand crafted leather buckets in a Mercedes, wool carpeting, and a state of the art sound system.

          That kind of “not good” is perfectly fine with me! As long as it has a Chrysler Hemi that runs reliably and is easy to maintain repair.

        • the terms i used are the KISS version of the triangle.
          the term “good” and “not good” are broad criteria which would be better characterized as desirable or undeseirable that change with people and situations. I have a truck to haul things and handle bad weather, that makes it good. but i also like goint to the track, the truck would suck there but that’s why i have a little sports car which is good there but isn’t worth a damn hauling anything more than 2 bags of groceries. Also it isn’t as safe or reliable as my wife’s car which is the most important criteria for that vehicle because my infant son rides in that one.

          quality, reliability, comfort, safety, speed capability, handling, fuel efficiency seating capacity are all characteristics that would fall under “good” or “not good”. “fast” isn’t a characteristic of the specific product but the length of the engineering and development cycle of said product. Example, I could do all the design and proto fabrication work for a new car myself but it would take forever, so instead I hire other engineers, outsource fab work etc to get it done in say 5 years. That shortened development time increases the cost.

  18. Political power and technical knowledge I don’t think go together at all. Very rarely have the two met and then the technical knowledge is so narrowly focused or of the school only variety. The closest the US federal government has come to it in living memory is Jimmy Carter. And we know how those years went automobile wise.

    The simple fact is that everything has become political. When everything becomes political the only thing that matters is power. People with power think they can bring things into being by edict. It’s just “magic”. They state it and make it so. Currently I believe oil companies are being fined because it is past the deadline to use cellulose based ethanol. Government willed it into existence… but it didn’t happen. Doesn’t exist.

    I am hoping that these new CAFE bumps finally get the domestics to give the finger to CAFE the way BMW does. It will just be a tax but should at least start to expand vehicle choice a little.

    • Political power and technical knowledge I don’t think go together at all.

      I think you’ve just cited one of life’s immutable rules.

      • Dear Brent, Liberranter,

        “Political power and technical knowledge I don’t think go together at all.”

        Amen to that. In fact, even when a person actually had genuine technical knowledge, it mysteriously evaporates when they become a Washington insider.

        To wit: Alan Greenspan

        • Alan Greenspan decided to do what was best for Alan Greenspan. He has stated he still stands behind his essay on gold. He knows exactly what he did. It benefited him.

          Encountering some of the people I do, sometimes I can understand why Greenspan did it.

          Look at people in this country. Try discussing monetary policy with a typical ‘smarter’ american. Someone who knows all the stats of the players on his fantasy football team but who starts flinging insults if you challenge what his grade school teacher told him about the USA.

          It inspires a person to just to look out for himself and get everything he can. Let the ignorant bastards suffer. They act as if they deserve it anyway. Odds are any one of us can’t stop it anyway.

          It would be very difficult to turn down Alan Greenspan levels of wealth for what he did. And he probably did hold things together longer than they would have held together with someone else in that office.

          • Dear Brent,

            That’s happened here on Taiwan too.

            Many “champions of Taiwan independence” have realized that their goal is politically impossible.

            So they use their Taiwan independence ideology to get into positions of power. Once in they abuse their power to embezzle as much as they can as fast as they can, then emigrate before they are caught.

            For the record, I oppose Taiwan independence, because it is rooted in petty tribalist bigotry. But that’s a whole other topic that I don’t want to get into at all.

          • Brent,

            I have to agree. I understand what Greenspan did. And I have to admit, per all you’ve said, that I’d be tempted to do the same – for the same reasons. I hope I wouldn’t. I try hard to keep an optimistic perspective and hope that enough people come around in time… but then I remember the millions who will vote for Obama – or Romney. The millions who want authoritarianism and redistributionism (pick your flavor). Who actually do “hate freedom” – as The Chimp put it. In which case, why fight the inevitable? Why not make the best of a bad situation? Money does equal power – and power can insulate one (and one’s family) from the massed millions out there… with a couple million, one could buy a very safe retreat, well-stocked and far, far way from the coming shit storm. Or, just hop on one’s private jet and leave… the safe house in Argentina (or wherever) is waiting…..

    • Right on. I read a lot of the bills that congress writes and every single one starts with pages regarding what the bill is going to accomplish. Then they come up with another dozen pages of how this is “magically” going to happen. It’s always pie in the sky BS.

    • Cafe standards have brought us all the efficiencies we have. The car companies say they can’t do it, but they do. Ethanol is a bad policy.


      • Really?

        Then why is it that the best new cars – in terms of MPGs – are barely as fuel efficient as many cars built during the late 1970s and early ’80s? (That is, when CAFE standards were much lower?)

        • Yep, my first new car was an 81 Dodge Omni Miser hatchback. 6 grand out the door, 50+ mpg highway 42 in town. A fun little car.

          • Yes Jim I see the rating, 25/41 mpg (U.S.), 29.9/49.1 mpg (imp.). You do know that the car would not come close to that today. They changed the rating years ago. The speed limit back then was 55 mph and tested without air. If cars today were rated at 55 mph there would be quite a few cars close to 50 mpg and have a lot more hp.

            My brother has a newer car than I do with around 160 hp I believe and he averaged over 42 mpg on the highway with a speed of at least 65 mpg and sized at least as large as your Omni. Your 81 Dodge Omni would not come close to that.

          • Clover, where you ere in this analysis is assuming that Jim, who is reporting observed gas mileage for his Omni rather than the EPA estimates, actually drove the car at 55 mph on a freeway.

            None of us did that 🙂

            • Scott,

              Be advised: Clover’s a troll – and an ignoramus. This is a guy who hasn’t (and probably couldn’t) do a basic tune-up. Let alone explain the operating principles of an Otto Cycle engine. Yet he will lecture mechanical engineers about engineering.

              You’re casting pearls before swine!

            • Hey Scott,

              I’ve test driven literally thousands of cars – of every type imaginable. Yet Clover – some guy (or old lady?) who mopes around in his circa 1987 Buick knows more about the operating characteristics of cars he’s never even driven!

              It’d be humorous – if it weren’t so retarded. It’s not fair kicking cripples.

          • Scott where you ere is guessing what Jim did and why he came up with the . Maybe you are right and he did get close to 50 mpg. Maybe at the same time he was driving on average 45 mph. Yes during the 55 mph era there were some states where people drove faster than 55 mph. I happened to travel multiple states during that period and know that in those states drivers did not go over 55 mph. You were ticketed at 60 mph if not before. Let Jim speak for himself. Some that say they got 50 mpg never checked it.

            As for Eric’s comment, I drove cars and vans with models from the late 70s and early to mid 80s. They were all 6 cylinders and thay topped out at 85 mph after a minute or two with your foot on the floor. If you went up a longer hill they often dropped to 45 to 50 mph with your foot on the floor. If you are an expert at vehicles you would know that.

            • Clover shifts gears (and misses) once again!

              We were discussing cars – the K-car and cars like it. Not vans. Apples and oranges.

              Poor ol’ Clover! He knows he’s been embarrassed again – but rather than admit he was wrong and at least earn some points for being honestly ignorant, he has to double-down on his BS and hope no one notices.

              PS: I’d love to know which “vans” you are referring – because the typical van of the ’70s had a V-8 engine and was capable of going a lot faster than 85 MPH. Now, a Corvair van or a VW van may have had trouble getting to 85 – but again, that’s a another kettle of fish.

              Or Clovers… .

          • Clover, obedience to 55mph was a farce. See “American Autobahn” by Mark Rask. It goes through how states faked the numbers to show compliance and how the federal government allowed it to go on because nobody could admit the reality for political reasons.

            Furthermore what does a full size van with a inline six crippled with a 1bbl carb have to do with a small light weight early 1980s FWD family sedan? Absolutely nothing except they both had engines rated for about the same hp. Of course never mind the van weighed like twice as much.

            • Yup – I was in college during the ’80s (when the 55 limit was in force) and can vouch for the fact that the 55 MPH max was shat upon openly and often.

      • cafe standards give the political class power to dictate teh consumer’s choices, which is why they are wrong. It becomes a bargaining and bribery chip that the political class enforces and grants exceptions to as they see fit, i.e. when it is politically advantageous.
        the cafe standards have improved the automotive industries efficiency just like minimum wage has improved unemployment (hint: it hasn’t).

      • CAFE standards brought us the SUV.

        CAFE should be a case study of why government should not interfere with the economy. Our dear leaders decided that us mundanes should no longer drive large passenger cars. I suppose some of our dear leaders were stupid enough to believe that fuel economy could magically come by edict and not weight/size reduction, but I find that generally those who write these schemes seek to reduce our standard of living. In any case they created CAFE to achieve their goals.

        CAFE’s market interference was based on the idea that nobody but farmers and construction workers purchased light trucks. Which was by and large true in 1975-6. The number of people who purchased pickups and enclosed light trucks because they liked them or went off roading or were participating in the van craze were in total rather trivial.

        Things staggered along until the great CAFE extinction event of 1985. If someone sifted through car history like going through layers of sediment this an automotive K-T boundary. Before it showrooms were filled with huge passenger cars after it…. hardly a thing like them.

        People tried the replacements for awhile. Then in 1988 or so I noticed there were a lot more pickups and Broncos and Blazers on the road. This was the beginning of SUV. These were vehicles designed for work sites and off-roaders and outdoorsmen. But they remained as the standing option for people who needed passenger capacity and occasional towing. The full size station wagon was nearly extinct. The large passenger sedan gone except for a couple bland choices.

        Of course this did not escape the notice of the marketeers. They realized what was happening and then began to change these enclosed trucks which had been on the market since the 1940s into high CG versions of luxurious or affordable large passenger cars of the past.

        CAFE gave us the SUV and all the problems of reduced fuel economy, reduced safety, and increased traffic congestion that large numbers of these ill performing things on the road resulted in.

        Without CAFE, the large passenger car and wagon would have continued to evolve and continued to be safer, better handling, and more fuel efficient than the SUV.

        Notice how now the SUV is evolving into a station wagon and something not all that unlike a 1930s/40s passenger car as automakers learn their way to deal with the regulations and the regulations change.

        CAFE is an attempt by central planning to tell us what to drive and it has been a disaster. It was chosen because we are ruled by control freaks who couldn’t face the political consequences of a direct confrontation with simple fuel taxes. Spineless, gutless clovers with no balls to directly confront the american people with their control freak desires.

        The new CAFE rate is either going to result in higher new car taxes or some other even worse market work-around.

        • Interesting, and I dare say for the most part true.

          I believe that the SUV is something else besides: an act of provocation on the part of the OEMs. The prize is to get the working commercial vehicle as an alternative to the disposable passenger cars that are available outlawed.

  19. Early in college, I had an adjunct Strength of Materials professor who showed us the “Engineering Triangle.”
    The triangle was “good” “fast” and “inexpensive” at each of the points. The premise was simple, you could only acheive 2 of the 3 because those 3 criteria couldn’t occupy the same space.

    Good+Inexpensive=Not Fast
    Fast+Inexpensive=Not Good

    They will be safe/heavy and fuel efficient so therefore they must be expensive.

    One thing that always gets me about “efficient” cars that use exotic materials and systems, it isn’t just the cost of the energy used while propelling it, it is also the energy used to manufacture it. This is where soemthing like the prius is highly inefficient.

    • One thing that always gets me about “efficient” cars that use exotic materials and systems, it isn’t just the cost of the energy used while propelling it, it is also the energy used to manufacture it. This is where soemthing like the prius is highly inefficient.

      Very true, but when we remember that all of this is about form, not substance; about ideology rather than actual ecology, then it all makes sense.

      • Precisely.

        Except that it’s not so much about ideology as marketing. The whole ecological debate has been painstakingly (and no doubt expensively) spun from terms of sustainability to terms of efficiency.

        But consider this: if efficiency is the hallmark of the naturally sustainable, why does cow dung burn? If Bos primigenius were a human invention it would be decried in some circles as an atrocious example of gross inefficiency, and summarily banned. But it is its very “inefficiency” that enables it to play its role in its ecological contexts – especially those that involve interaction with humans in traditional farming. It all works; it all fits.

        Could it not be that the level of efficiency where cars work best in a system of human ecology is a fairly low one? where the embodied technology is forgiving enough that a relatively tiny, fine-grained industry can be reasonably sure to get it reasonably right?

        But this is not allowed. Again: cui bono?

    • Are we sure that it is not: quantity, quality, price?

      John Galt Day.

      On the anniversary of Obama’s, “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help…. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

      Read here, and participate: http://www.lewrockwell.com/wilson-brian/wilson-brian37.1.html

      “Simple. No massive organizing. No herding cats. No moving parts. Literally: a spontaneously combusted Just Do It. A current event silver bullet at Big Government. A gold nugget of Freedom for everyone to see. Or, if you prefer, a bitch-slap response to a Presidential insult.”

      • Ummm, John Galt is the biggest recipient of government largess in all the annals of literature. Check the history on the creation of the RR industry. You will have done 100% more due diligence than Ayn.

        Lower weight cars can and should be safer. Peters is an ideologue. The Madza 3 kicks the efficiency of the old junker he cites, or the Prius. Hybrids ARE a waste of money, but ideology without due diligence won’t serve you well either.


        • Scott,

          You have your characters mixed up. In Rand’s novel, the railroad tycoon was Dagny Taggart, not John Galt.

          “Lower weight cars can and should be safer.”

          That’s great to say – but how to do?

          In fact – in actuality – it is usually done by making the car heavier (and so less efficient) or more expensive. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

          I guess pointing that out makes me an ideologue.

          • Eric, It is apparent Scott did not read Atlas Shrugged. Assuming he meant Dagny Taggart, she refused to work with the govt and preferred to work around the govt. Her brother was the one who was in bed with the govt, using his influence to destroy the competition.

        • “Lower weight cars can and should be safer. ”


          ‘Safer’ is a comparative. It begs the question, “Safer than what??? AND For whom??”

          If you meant to imply that Lower Weight cars can and should be safer than heavier analogues for the occupants, then I can only say this.

          Force (F) equals Mass (M) times Acceleration (A) or F=MA.

          The heavier a vehicle is, the greater its Mass, and therefore its force. In a collision all that force has to find a home in the object with which it collided.

          The ‘collided’ object DISTRIBUTES the received force according to the same formula, with the material properties of the object controlling the efficiency of the transmission.

          So, basically (duh) a heavier car (or person) has a stronger punch or collision (duh) and a greater ability to absorb the energy of a punch or collision.

          Test for yourself. Drive your car at 60MPH into the side of a battleship. May I suggest the North Carolina?

          You’ll find that the steel hull efficiently transmits and distributes the energy from the impact to the rest of the hull, spreading out the effects.

          I look forward to your report on the experiment.

          • I have a better experiment. Drive a hypercar (half the weight of a comparable size commercial car) into that battleship or concrete wall. The lighter car hits the wall with less force because its mass was less. All other things being equal, the lighter car is safer. I cannot speak to the cost of lightweight construction except to say that RMI’s hypercar was theoretically LESS expensive if built from new materials such as made at FiberForge because of new design and assembly which allows for modular and reuse of parts.

            Add to this a lower drag coefficient.

            Add to this a dozen or so smaller innovations, e.g., motor-in-wheel, low resistance tire, drive by wire, and lighter transparent materials.

            You may claim this is cost prohibitive. You can’t know that. No one can. What we do know, and should after 10,000 years of suffering, is that government cannot help with any problems, government is the problem. WITHOUT regulation (control by central planners), the market will solve all our problems.

          • It’s not just safety that causes weight, sound deadening is huge, heat shielding, heater, a/c, electronics, basically all the creature comforts that people buy cars for today. The most fuel efficient cars of the modern fuel inject era, was the CRX line from Honda. The HF model would get 60 mpg if you kept it around 60 mph, and easily 40 in town if you knew how to drive a car. There is a whole line of car freaks who “hypermill” where they practice getting the absolute best mpg out of the car as possible. Changing driving habits have a serious affect on fuel efficiency of cars.

          • Gordo – Brilliant analysis. “Safer than what?” indeed; the way we define “safer” (and the way we measure it) dictates the solution set. Your F=MA point perfectly illustrates how we ended up driving tanks that get lousy gas mileage.

            To really wrap our heads around it, let’s look at another vehicle saddled with being “safer”, to wit, the airplane.

            Had we decided to measure the safety odf aircraft by equipping them with specially instrumented “wind dummies” and running them into the ground at high speeds, we would have different aircraft. Much heavier ones no doubt. Instead, we decided to define a safer aircraft as one that had a reduced probability of running into the ground in the first place, so we focused on designs that didn’t stall unexpectedly and human interfaces that minimized pilot error. The idea was to avoid collisions, not survive them.

            If we took a similar approach to defining safety for automobiles, we’d have lighter cars that didn’t crash as often.

          • I have argued for years that american road safety is backwards. Nearly entirely focused on what happens when there is a crash. It is expressed in the language. A crash is an “accident”. Some unavoidable thing like a hail storm. It has made the entire driving experience backwards and painful.

        • Scott in Dallas, you just got run over by…
          THE FAILDOZER! hahaha

          BTW “Nat Taggart” founded and built his railroad specifically without govt help.

  20. In my opinion the singular best thing that ever happened to the otto engine is electronic fuel injection and the O2 sensor. I fell in behind a “smoker” yesterday for the first time in quite a while. Twenty and more years ago there were so many smokers that being stuck in traffic on a windless day was downright stifling. While riding a motorcycle I could often trail a smoker when it was several hundred yards ahead of me.

  21. I think I understand.

    I can choose 2 of the following 3 things for the car I drive:

    Fuel efficient / High safety (more weight) / Inexpensive

    • It’s like the Good Fast Cheap Rule(tm). By Fast, I mean timely. Customers purchasing a product or service ALWAYS want it Good, Fast and Cheap. But the business reality is, they only get to pick two of the three.

      If it’s Good and Cheap, it ain’t gonna be Fast.
      If it’s Good and Fast, it ain’t gonna be Cheap.
      If it’s Fast and Cheap, it ain’t gonna be any Good.

      Most respectable businesses will only offer the first two combinations – tht third will not be an option.

      • Yes those old cars were light and pretty good on gas. The engine was half the size of a modern small car, no air conditioning, what the heck do you need an alternator for with no power accessories, no radiator/air cooled, about 1/3 the hp and so slow it would be a road rage target today.

        Yes we do not have cars like that any more. No one would buy one. Price? $3000 was a lot of money in the early 70s. I think was was making about $.75 an hour back then on summer jobs.


        • Hmm..

          My harley has a 1.8 liter engine and my yaris has a 1.5. Anyhow, alternators are good for silly little things like keeping the battery charged for starting and powering lights.

          • Good one Dom. Yes there were alternators back in those days but they did not turn on much of anything except for lights. There are a lot of engines for motorcycles and lawn mowers etc that are able to generate enough electricity without an external alternator. So your Harley engine is about twice the size of the car we are talking about?

            Was that all that you could come up with on my statements.


          • What can I say..

            Maybe that I’ve driven 660cc cars in Japan. They wouldn’t win any top speed records, but they could sustain highway speeds.

            I mean, but what do I know.. I’m just a guy that has, can, and will continue to build and maintain my own fleet.

          • Dear Dom,

            “I’ve driven 660cc cars in Japan. They wouldn’t win any top speed records, but they could sustain highway speeds.”

            After reading your comment, I looked it up. The “Kei Cars” look very interesting.

            In terms of intent, they’re not that different from the German bubble cars like the Messerschmidt or the Italian bubble cars like the Isetta. Or for that matter, the Nash Metropolitan.

            Given the crippling speed limits we must endure, thanks to the clovers, they probably go fast enough.

            • In the early ’90s, I drove a Beetle to work – in Washington, DC. The Beetle was adequate for dealing with the DC Beltway (I-495). Maybe 60 hp – and about 1,800 lbs. Top speed probably about 85 with the wind at your back and going downhill. It wasn’t comfortable – but it wasn’t terrible, either.

              And certainly doable.

          • An internal combustion engine can generate electricity all by itself without a generator or an alternator?

            Am I the idiot, or is Clover? I’ve never heard of this before and Google isn’t revealing much.

          • Dear That One Guy,

            That had me stumped for a while too.

            Then I figured it out!

            Clover has a Keynesian Engine. It generates electricity without the need for a generator or alternator.

            It gives you something for nothing. A free lunch.

          • Bevin, at around 150″ a Metropolitan is about the size of a Golf Mk1 or, indeed, a Morris Minor. That is already 25% longer than a real (i.e. original) Mini, and 50% longer than a true microcar like an Isetta.

            It is another example of the thing that kept American manufacturers from getting the small car right, the inability to shake the idea that it ought to be conceived as a toy. The Metropolitan was more of a scaled-up dodgem car than a scaled-down “proper” car.

            I do not think my dad would have agreed with Clover’s comment that older small cars, even the smallest, are impractically slow. He had a Fiat 600 with a sprinkling of Abarth bits in the years before my birth. He and my uncles used to use moving larger British and American cars on the road as slalom cones …

            As regards alternators v. generators (to be scrupulously fair I see no denial of the latter in Clover’s post, so perhaps a mere comparison between the two was meant?) it is again a matter of use patterns. The error here is to regard use patterns as blind, self-unfolding historical phenomena that cannot be subject to critical analysis, regarding cause or otherwise. But is it not in fact quite an obvious response to seeing that cars spend so much time sat idling in traffic to ask, “cui bono?”

            The thing that offends most is not that we have the wrong solution to the problem facing us (not that “we” is correct in that context) but that we have the wrong problem facing us!

            If the Prius is the answer, we’re stuck with the wrong question.

          • Dear Ned,

            Re: Metropolitan

            True. No argument. I was aware of that. That’s why I said “In terms of intent.”

            I looked for some mention of generator instead of alternator, but didn’t come across any. If that’s what clover meant, then no problem.

          • That One Guy I am not sure if I would call you an idiot or not but you are wrong. What is your definition of an engine? The pistons? Many alternators in motorcycles and small engines are built inside of the engine. Try and tell me you see an alternator in most of those? I said there was not a need for an external alternator in such a case because they did not use that much electricity.

            I do have to laugh at Eric though, he said 60 hp was plenty. Yes maybe plenty in the 90s when the speed limit was 55 mph everywhere, there was far less road rage everywhere, there was a lot of lower powered cars everywhere in the 70s to early 90s. Eric I guess you have not read your own car reviews when you said cars with 180 hp or even a lot more were underpowered?

            I would like to see you drive those 50 to 60 hp cars when the speed limits are 70 to 75 mph out in many states. Your rpms would be in the 5000 range. Not too good for cruising a few hundred or thousand miles.

        • @clover “what the heck do you need an alternator for with no power accessories…”?

          Mostly to run the spark plug. Without an alternator the engine won’t fire.

          • Clover’s knowledge of engineering basics is almost as comprehensive as his knowledge about driving.

            The guy’s a troll.

            He erupts opinions asserted as facts and claims expertise about… well, everything!

            Yet he refuses to reveal any details about his background – his education/experience – anything that would lend credence to his opinions and assertions.

            You’ll get the drift soon enough!


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