Goodbye, V-8s. Maybe This Time, For Good

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V-8s are on the way out – again.

The first mass extinction occurred circa late 1970s/early ’80s – as a result of the first round of the government fuel economy edicts known by the acronym, CAFE – or Corporate Average Fuel Economy. CAFE mandated that cars (but not trucks) achieve an average of at least 22.5 MPG or else the automakers who continued to build such wastrels would be hit with “gas guzzler” fines, which they in turn would pass on to the consumer. This made the formerly commonplace full-frame, rear-drive (and V-8 powered) family car economically impossible – at least, given the technology of the late ’70s era.

So, they – mostly – disappeared.

V-8s (and mass-market large cars) made a comeback in the ’90s and through to the present day as technology – especially fuel injection and overdrive transmissions – made it possible to make the 22.5 MPG CAFE cut. Or at least, come close enough so that any “gas guzzler” fines were economically manageable. Even something as stunningly, obstreperously  powerful as a 2012 Cadillac CTS-V – packing a 6.2 liter, 556 hp V-8 – can manage 19 MPG on the highway, thanks to the efficiency improvements of the past 20-something years.

But no technology in existence today – or on the horizon – will get the CTS-V or anything else with a V-8 under its hood close to the new CAFE mandatory minimum of 35.5 MPG, which goes into effect come 2016. That means – in all likelihood – that V-8 powered cars are about to go away again, this time probably for good.

In fact, the die-off is already happening.

The 2013 Jaguar XF – which since its introduction in 2009 has always come with nothing less than a five liter V-8 – will come standard with a 2.0 liter four next year. The optional engine will be a six of about 3 liters’ displacement.

Lexus has dropped the V-8 as an available upgrade in the 2013 GS series sport sedan, which is now V-6 (and hybrid) powered only. Audi has retired the A8’s 4.2 liter V-8, replacing it with a V-6.

Mercedes is going to introduce a new hybrid version of the E-Class for 2013. The V-8 version of the E will still be offered, but with a starting price of almost $60,000 it will not be a mass-market car.

V-8s are becoming engines for the rich-only. More on this in a minute.

Even sixes are in peril. BMW has shunted the formerly standard inline six  in both the 3 and 5 Series, in favor of a new (twin-turbocharged) four.

It’s a clear trend – and the fact that we can see it developing on the luxury-performance end of the automotive spectrum is the proverbial canary in the coal mine as regards more modestly priced, large-engined cars such as the Chrysler 300 and – probably – much-anticipated but likely to be very short-lived models like the 2014 Chevy SS sedan.

If Jaguar, BMW, Audi and Lexus can no longer afford to build V-8 cars (at least, in large numbers, as mass-market models) then it’s a dead certainty GM and Ford and Chrysler won’t be able to, either.

That includes trucks, incidentally.

The new CAFE standard – 35.5 MPG, average – doesn’t apply just to passenger cars, as the original 22.5 MPG CAFE standard did. Everything short of commercial vehicles is now lumped together in the same category. There is no more “light truck loophole” – the loophole that made it possible, back in the ’90s, for the car companies to do an end-run around CAFE for passenger cars by putting big engines into bigger vehicles that could be categorized as light trucks – and which they called SUVs.

Hence, Ford is discretely – but very clearly – moving away from V-8s in its big trucks, such as the full-size F-series pickup. There’s still one available – for the moment. But the rest of the engine lineup – the mass market engine lineup – is all V-6. Ford calls these engines – tellingly – Ecoboost. They’re smaller displacement engines with a turbo (or two) bolted on to provide on-demand power but the better fuel efficiency of a smaller engine the rest of the time.

Turbos – and superchargers – are seen as the only technically feasible way to match (or at least, come close to) the power/performance of V-8s while still making the CAFE cut.

Well, is all this actually bad?

That depends on your perspective.

From the perspective of the automakers, it’s good. Because it gets Uncle off their backs – at least, temporarily – and increases their profit margin, since they simply pass on the costs of the more expensive powertrains (including maintenance costs) to customers.

From our perspective, as consumers, it’s not such a good deal. We pay more up front – and while that will be somewhat mitigated by reduced fuel consumption, those savings may – and probably will be – swept away by down-the-road maintenance and repair costs. Smaller, higher-stressed engines tend not to last as long as larger, less stressed engines. A force-fed (turbocharged or supercharged) engine is not likely to be a trouble-free 150,000 mile engine. Maybe these new-generation turbo’d and supercharged engines are built tougher – and will last longer. Or at least, as long as a similarly powerful, but less stressed, V-8. We’ll see. If they don’t, look out. Replacing a turbo on a late model car is typically a $2,000-plus job. Many of these CAFE-engineered new cars have two of them.

That’s that. Another thing is that the fuel economy gains are often not very impressive – on an individual vehicle basis. For instance, the current Ford F-truck’s available 5 liter V-8 rates 15 city, 21 highway. Not great. But the EcoBoost 3.5 liter V-6 (which makes about the same power as the V-8) comes in just slightly better, with a 16 city, 22 highway rating.

You’d think that extra 1-2 MPG would be irrelevant, but it’s crucial . . .CAFE-wise. Ford sells on the order of half a million F-trucks each year. If each one costs Ford (and thus, customers) even as little as $300 more in gas guzzler taxes per vehicle,  when multiplied by half a million, that becomes real money, real quickly.

So, here’s what to expect:

V-8s are going to get scarce. And I mean exotic-scarce. Last go’round, CAFE made it a lot harder for a working class  person to own a V-8 powered new car. But  if you were comfortably middle class, it was still feasible. There were Crown Vics and Town Cars.

Upper middle class, no problem. $50k would do the trick – doable for a professional couple.

This time, V-8s will become the exclusive playthings of the very affluent only – people who can afford to spend $70k-plus for a low-volume (and so, CAFE irrelevant) car. Jaguar, for example, will probably continue to offer a V-8 in the ultra-performance (and ultra-expensive) XF-R version of the XF luxury-sport sedan. Mercedes will still  offer V-8s in the E and S Class… for those few who can handle the freight.

What there won’t be anymore are cars like the currently available Chrysler 300 C Hemi and the bet-you-it-gets-cancelled-soon Chevy SS; that is, cars – and trucks – for regular people and intended to be sold in volume.

Of course, Obama – and the next Dear Leader – will still get to drive around in cars powered by big V-8s that get far less than 35.5 MPG  . . . with the gas bill paid by taxpayers.

And that’s just the way they want it.

Throw it in the Woods? 





  1. Reg; “PS: Years ago I was lucky enough to get some seat time in a (1938, IIRC) LaSalle… neat old buggy!”

    Years ago, I was about 19’/1966, my uncle purchased a 39′ Lasalle coupe. He took me out to get it, we poured a couple of gallons in the tank and put a battery in and tried to start it. No go. So he decided to push me home with his 49’Chevy 2-dr fastback. About a half mile from our destination I turned the key and let the clutch out. It fired and raced away from that Chevy six. Quite a thrill.

    Have a great new year Eric

    PS! The Coupe was a parts car for his 39′ Lasalle convertible coupe project. The coupe was in very good condition and stripped for parts. The convertible was never restored and the last I saw of it, after he died, it had trees growing up through it. Alcohol lays waste to so much.

  2. Hello Eric,
    I translated this article about V-8’s in Italian, and I’ll post it shortly. (If you don’t mind, of course).
    Merry Christmas to you and all the readers of epautos.

    • Oh, they’ll be some left – just as there are still V-12s.

      But increasingly, the V-8 will be an exotic-car engine, something only a few well-heeled people will ever get to experience.

  3. Note; The Ford SHO V-8 was Cast Iron, the Volvo V-8 was aluminum.

    You can’t use the same tooling and molds for casting as the two materials have different shrinkage rates.

  4. @ Sione_ Reg; “Volvo V8 and Taurus SHO V8 are related. The Volvo is an improved version of the Taurus. They come from the same design team and same production tooling.

    I would be interested in cite-ble sources that support your contention that the Volvo is an improved Taurus
    V-8 using the same architecture and castings. From what info I have been able to gather, they don’t share the same bore centers or deck heights.

    I have several of the SHO V-6’s and V-8’s in the shop that are looking for an application. If there are useful similarities between the Volvo and Ford Sho’s, I would be interested in that info. It seems to me that the Volvo unit, already configured for a longitudinal drive train layout, would be easier to apply to a RWD vehicle then the FWD configured Ford SHO’s.

    The Sho V-6’s can be modified for use of the Gen-3 Camaro/S-10, 5-speed. The Volvo V-8’s never had a manual tranny as an OEM application, but other considerations should make it more amenable to the Longitudinal set-up and being able use a manual tranny would be a bonus.

    “Officials of all three companies involved, insist that the Volvo V8 is not related to the SHO engine.” See Links.

    Reg; “Isn’t that Yamaha-sourced V-8″

    There are some similarities such as the 60* degree bank layout and 4-valve breathing.

    The Volvo was FWD Transverse only, and all aluminum. The SHO V-8 was Duratec based, set-up for both FWD/Transverse and RWD/Longitudinal, with a cast iron block.

    Couldn’t find the ‘SAE’ papers on the Volvo?

    • Hi Tre,

      If I recall correctly, the current Taurus shares a basic platform with the Volvo S80. Remember PAG? Premier Auto Group? Volvo was part of Ford’s PAG (along with Jaguar/Land Rover) until they went their separate ways a few years back….

      • Yes! Part of Ford’s attempt to control an inordinate share of the world market when they were flush with F-150 cash.

        But the info available, and the principles involved, claim that the Volvo V-8 is a separate design, just sharing association with the Ford SHO. I’m sure that some of the same native technology was used, but the designs appear to separate entities.

        Still chasing SAE papers on the Volvo engines. If anybody knows of a similar technical society in Europe, I would take a look there, but it should be archived with the SAE, too, Eric.

        Regards Tre

    • The SHO V8 – suitably equipped with a quartet of IDAs – was the engine of choice for an idea I had some years ago for a hot rod with something of an early Lancia feel, mainly due to the very Lancia-like disconnect of V angle and cylinder count. The idea was something that feels like a Lambda with an Aprilia-like “streamline” coupé body on it, though most of it based on early Ford bits.

      • Hi! Ned,

        That would be a combo I would like to see. It would require a fabricated manifold, or a new molded up manifold.

        The problem is the transmission for a longitudinal drive arrangement. Anybody who has info on that, please pipe up.

        I finished the molds and cast three manifolds for a Tri-Deuce 39′-48′ Cadillac Flaty. Will finish up a running 39′ Lasalle/Cad motor this Winter with one of the Tri-Deuce manifolds for my latest 27′ Tee roadster project. It will be a wild looking engine with the Exhaust manifolds coming out of the engine valley.

        Regards …Tre

          • Wow. That’s the combination of the three oldsmobiles my grandfather had in my lifetime. It has the skirts and fins of the ’98 he had when I was very little. It’s a ’76 so it shares much of the ’76 Delta 88 and it’s the color of the ’82 delta 88.

            • I remember three from my childhood: dark green ’74 Regency sedan; sky blue 77 coupe; chocolate brown ’83 Regency coupe. Maybe that’s why I love these cars so much!

          • A beautiful survivor. Wish my 48′, 98′ Olds ‘Futuramic’ fastback club coupe was in that good of condition.

            The ’98’ Futuramic was the first new GM postwar design. From the famed Harley Earl ‘Color
            & Design studio at GM. Bill Mitchell would inherit the studio when Harley resigned. It was cleaner design then the 48′ Cadillac and rarer with only about 1,900 built. See links below for an example.

            GM built more convertibles then the fastback club coupe, about 5,700 verts. Caddy fastback coupes were much more common. My first car was a 48’ Cadillac convert.

            Thanks for the link Eric. And what is with the 455″ business in 77′(?)only a 403″ was available in 77″ as the top engine available.

            Too bad it isn’t a Regency or a Regency Brougham coupe.


            • If only I had the garage space.. and the spare cash … I’d be on the road right now, driving a rental to that location to buy that Olds and drive it back home.

              That car is an example of the golden age of luxury car design. Anyone who hasn’t had the experience cannot understand. Seats that felt like sofas (in the back, it was possible to stretch out and take a snooze, which I did many times as a kid in the back seat of my folks’ big Oldsmobiles). A float-on-air ride. The diesel-like torque of a big-inch V-8.

              Modern “luxury”cars are more like sport sedans. Not only that, you feel like you’re riding in an enclosed bathtub – even someone my size (6ft 3) because the A, B and C pillars are so massive and because the doors and headrests are so high (thanks to saaaaaaaaaaaafety standards). Over-teched engines that make high RPM horsepower but not nearly enough low-end torque. Pretentious “sport” equipment (low aspect ratio tires on 1, 19 and 20 inch wheels, stability and traction control, auto-adjusting suspensions, etc,) all of it having no purpose in a car ostensibly designed for luxurious travel.

              I will possess a car such as the one above one of these years… .

              PS: Years ago I was lucky enough to get some seat time in a (1938, IIRC) LaSalle… neat old buggy!

  5. There is a designer called Chris Ellis who works for HyKinesys. He is into hybrids. In his case the favoured approach is to use flywheels to store energy. His flywheels are mechanically connected to the drive-train via a gear transmission and clutches. Some versions use a CVT instead. Chris Ellis recently built a hybrid prototype for a well-known Italian sports car manufacturer. This design had a 1.5 litre NA V-12 teamed up with a HyKinesys “power beam” flywheel. How about that, a road car with 12,000 rpm potential! While complicated this sort of thing could be a lot of fun. I reckon that with flywheel technology we could keep multicylinder engines like V-8s in production. They’d be smaller but performance wouldn’t suffer….. Worth a try?



  6. Eric, I deplore the brewing situation as you do. What we here have lost sight of is that fuel economy laws are getting tougher all over the industrialized world, not just here.

    The European Community (the former “Common Market”) imposed tough “carbon emission” limits, another name for fuel economy standards, several years ago that are being phased in now. And they are tougher than Obummer’s new rules. Japan decided to piggyback on the Euro automotive legislation several years ago, and presumably this would include the carbon emission standards. Even China is phasing in tough fuel economy standards.

    We’re not alone, by any means. And that explains why we’re seeing expensive BMWs beginning to appear with fours instead of sixes or V-8s, for example. This is driven as much by requirements in the home market as for here.

    As said, I don’t like this overweening bureaucratic folly either, but the perspective is necessary. It ain’t only us in this fix. V-8s in the majority of vehicles are doomed worldwide, not just in the US.

    • Agreed.

      But what sealed the fate of V-8s as mass market powerplants was when the (not our) government decided to ape what was being done in Europe. So long as BMW, et al, could still sell bigger-engined vehicles here – a huge market – they could still afford to build such cars. But now that this market is going away, and there’s no other market left – the big engines are going away, too.

      This time, everywhere.

  7. I think I have a way car makers may be able to get around the CAFE silliness.

    Lots of high end autos are now equipped with normal/sport/track selectors. Maybe a CAFE/normal selector could be used too. In CAFE mode the car would of course take 47 seconds to reach 60mph, never be able to exceed 60mph and all accessories would be disabled. Cars could also be shipped with disposable pizza cutter eco-tires/rims. Just replace the tires/rims set to normal and break off the button.

    Or they could just start making 1986 golf diesels again like the one I drove for years at ~50mpg even when I drove it like I stole it. Then again, that was pretty much always because with 52hp that was the only way to get anywhere the same day you left.

    • That is assuming the car makers want to get around the CAFE silliness. They are, after all, at least part-instigators of the CAFE silliness. It’s the CAFE silliness and the rest of that nefarious edifice that prevents someone from putting something simple, durable, and owner-fixable on the market. That is the last thing the car makers want.

  8. US rule set to slash cars’ fuel use

    By Robert Wright and Ed Crooks in New York
    BP Sign©Bloomberg

    New fuel economy standards for cars to be announced by the US administration are expected to cut consumption of petrol and diesel by up to 18 per cent over the coming decades, according to an official study, but are courting controversy.

    Some carmakers warn that the new rules, which are due to be published before the end of this month, will distort the US market and may not deliver the projected reductions in overall demand.

    On this topic

    ‘China’s Environmental Challenges’, by Judith Shapiro
    Drought and climate scepticism in corn belt
    Aquino announces plans to avert flooding
    High temperatures scorch Balkans economies

    IN US Politics & Policy

    Republican backtracks ‘rape’ comments
    Fight is on for Asian-American vote
    Campaign advisers battle over Medicare
    Biden gaffes prompt ad campaign

    US fuelClick to enlarge

    At a time when oil prices have been rising, and fuel costs are putting increasing strain on US household budgets, President Barack Obama will use the new standards to show that he is addressing public concerns.

    The administration also argues that the regulations will help the environment by reducing carbon dioxide and other emissions, and will strengthen national security by curbing America’s reliance on imported oil.

    The planned new Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (Cafe) standards mark the latest stage in efforts by Mr Obama’s administration to direct US-based carmakers towards making vehicles less fuel-hungry and more sophisticated. The rules were last tightened in 2009.

    If, as expected, the new rules reflect draft standards published last year, they foresee a near-doubling of US-made cars’ average fuel efficiency by 2025 from 27.5 miles per US gallon at present to 54.5mpg, under test conditions.

    Mr Obama set out the plan in July last year, following an agreement with 13 leading carmakers to support the new standards, which he described as “the single most important step we’ve ever taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil”.

    The official assessment of the environmental impact of the new regulations, published by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last month, shows that the changes could cut the country’s road fuel demand by up to 1.19tn gallons over 2017-60, a reduction of 18 per cent from the level if the rules were not imposed.

    The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a group backed by businesses, charities and government bodies, has estimated that the administration’s two sets of fuel economy regulations will together cut US crude oil demand by 3.1m barrels per day by 2030: a 16 per cent decline from last year’s level of 18.8m b/d.

    Manufacturers including the “Detroit three” – GM, Ford and Chrysler – as well as others including Toyota, Nissan, Honda and BMW, have given public support to the new standards.

    Carmakers are relieved the strict standards have averted the risk that California might set its own, independent standards. Many also hope a planned review halfway between 2017 and 2025 will bring substantial changes.

    Tom Baloga, vice-president of engineering for BMW of North America, said: “A single national standard is what is being proposed and that’s very critical for us,” Mr Baloga said.

    The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents the auto-making industry as a whole, said conflicting regulations would have raised costs. “We all want to get more fuel-efficient autos on our roads, and a single, national programme with a strong midterm review helps us get closer to that shared goal,” it said.

    However, some manufacturers have profound reservations about whether the regulations, which are expected to push up some cars’ prices sharply when they come into force in 2017, will produce the intended benefits. Germany’s Volkswagen has refused to join the joint industry endorsements of the rules.

    Tony Cervone, a spokesman for VW Group of America, said his company had “great concerns” about the likely rules’ disproportionate burden on makers of cars, as opposed to trucks. Many heavy, fuel-hungry sports utility vehicles and pick-up trucks count as trucks under the proposed rules, and will need to achieve more modest efficiency gains than cars.

    “There’s a potential that this actually has a perverse impact on overall fuel consumption by driving more truck investment by makers that have a high percentage of trucks,” Mr Cervone said.

    Volkswagen also argues that the standards are unfairly biased towards the fuel-saving technologies that the Obama administration and the US carmakers are seeking to develop.

    The draft standards give substantial credits for cars that include hybrid technology and “stop-start” technology, which turns engines off even when vehicles are stopped momentarily or requiring no power. Volkswagen, which sells large numbers of fuel-efficient diesel cars, complains there are no equivalent credits for its technology.

    Even some supporters of the standards have reservations. Tom Stricker, vice-president of technical and regulatory affairs at Toyota Motor North America, said they would undoubtedly lead to improvements in fuel economy and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

    But he went on: “Whether or not they will lead to the level of reductions and improvements that the regulations hope and expect is an open question.”

  9. Hi! Ross,

    Yes, I do remember, helped by my collection of bikes.

    The 318″ is a great V-8, capable of moving out smartly and getting pretty good mileage. Built it can be a monster performer.

    It is just physics, the more weight you have to move, the more torque it takes to move it. If you want to accelerate the load quickly, more torque is required It is all relative. Torque drives a vehicle, HP carries it.

    The early turbo cars had to run on quite low compression ratios to avoid engine killing pre-detonation, so they were ‘just’ adequate for normal un-boosted regimes. Things have changed immensely with modern tech engine management and metallurgy. Add ‘DI’ to the mix and the new intake timing advances, and the little motors are much more capable over a wider range of loads.

    We built most of this country in the early days with high torque, low HP engines. In my engine collection I have a 4-cyl.(L.4) 1920 White truck engine of 540 cu. inches, it develops a lot of torque, but not much HP.
    Interesting motor as it air cooled, with separate block and finned cylinders, and a cross flow OHV head, like the old VW’s, but an upright four. We suspect that the max rpm was very low.

    • Yeah. And what about the old “Johnny Poppers”? There are still lots of 2-cylinder John Deere tractors working every day.

      • rEVOLutionary,

        Yes, grew up with one of those John Deere stump pullers. It was also the first vehicle I was ever pulled over in by a Stater…I was 8!… Col!

        Dad bought the tractor about 25 miles and three towns away the farm. He decided that with a little instruction, I could drive it home.

        Well, things went well for about ten miles at about 15 MPH..Maybe, but a state Patrol officer wasn’t amused. He come along side and asked me to pull over, I tried, but couldn’t stop the tractor or get it out of gear.

        Dad was just up a head and stopped the car and ran back
        to stop the tractor, trouble is, when he stopped, he didn’t leave much room between our brand new Sunbeam Rapier and the oncoming tractor. And he had difficult getting on the moving tractor and by the time he did, we were almost on top of the car with my Mother and siblings still in it. Boy, that Stater gave him a reaming, and they were friends.

        Mom couldn’t drive, so I got a little more instruction and the Stater led us all the way back to the farm with his lights flashing..No ticket. Those benevolent days are long passed now.

        Later Dad bought a Ford 9N. My Dad and his brothers hooked a chain between the JD and 9N, and that JD pulled that Ford at will, no contest.

        We also were prohibited from using the 9N on the side hills, The JD was the only tractor allowed to do the traverse side hill work.

        Over the years people have commented on my apparently big arms, thinking I must have worked out with weights. I kinda of laughed and said no, changing sprinklers four times and day, boosting bales of hay and alfalfa all Summer, and starting the flywheel start ‘JD’ is what bulked them up.


  10. Anybody who remembers the late 60s and early 70s in the motorcycle world will recall how small two-stroke bikes began to match and even surpass much bigger four-strokes in speed. But cubic inches still ruled when it came to moving a load–as Motorcyclist magazine demonstrated way back then, the more you burdened motorcycles, the less performance the big bikes lost compared to the smaller crotch rockets.

    The same applies to car engines. The turbocharged Plymouth Champ my dad had moved smartly with one person, but was a sled with four of us big folk in it. V-8s didn’t lose that much moving ability when hauling a big load. Stock up on the V-8s, folks. For moparistas like me, 318s and 360s are still common.

      • If I did that after 4:PM or before 8:AM, I would find egg all over my house. On weekends it better be after 10:AM.
        So all of the ‘plenty horses’ are kept at the airport shop.

        ‘Chief Plenty Horses’? COL! Pontiac what(?), Eric

          • Hi! Eric,

            Great cars. loved to drive mine. I had a a very nice 79′ Bird(Gold with the rare sunroof) that I bought for pennies on the dollar in the early nineties, great driving car that always drew an admiring comment when ever I pulled it out for a drive.

            The rear end started to act up after a while so into the back of the shop it went. Pulled it out in 2007 and fixed the rear, detailed it, put it on e-Bay(with out a reserve) and had a surprisingly great time watching it go ballistic.

            That old Pony brought some serious change, which went into my Gear Head account. No accounting for e-Bay happenings.

            Tried sell my 66′ Mercury Comet ‘Caliente’ convertible with a 390″ and only 59,000 miles on it, and nice original everything(Except the ‘Tri-Power’ and American ‘Torque Thrusts), and couldn’t muster a third of book. The only interest was from the Scandinavian countries.
            Finally figured out that nobody really knew what it was, yet when I take it down to the Sextant tav, or a show, it draws crowds, but even some of the old guys, don’t know what it is, by their comments. One guy did say that it was way better then another old Mustang or Camaro. But ‘different’ doesn’t sell, and nobody searches e-Bay for old Comets..col!

            Really glad it didn’t sell, I like bringing the car to an event and stand off and watch the curious, but puzzled, admiring looks, and interesting to hilarious comments. Seems people think it is a Pontiac with its stacked headlights. Go figure, it says right on it what it is.

            Reminds me of when I took my SVO to the Bonneville speed trials, a guy(a Mustang fanatic, going by his hat, shirt, belt, and umbrella) who had a Mustang in the show, asked me about the car, I told him and his response was, that Ford never made a Mustang like that. A lot of ‘experts’, sure don’t know much…col!

            • The ‘Bird’s a keeper.

              I bought it about 20 years ago when these cars were still affordable (for a guy in his 20s). I spied it on the lot of the local Oldsmobile dealer. Turns out the original owner had traded it in… for a new Olds four door! I scraped together every cent I had and snatched it up. It had 54,000 original miles at the time. Loaded car. Virtually every option available in ’76, including the rarely seen electric rear defrost. It’s Carousel Red (same color as the ’69 GTO Judge) with black “custom” interior (the famous “Horsecollar” seats) and silver Honeycombs. It is garage kept and never goes out in the rain.

              The 455 has a Comp Cams stick with Rhoads lifters and roller rockers; Performer intake and tweaked Q-jet. I use repro Ram Air III cast iron headers. Not cats, of course.

              It’s a keeper – even my wife like it!

              I’ve had several F-cars from that era, including another ’76. That one was an LE 50th Anniversary car; hardtop, 455 4-speed. Got T-boned by a red-light runner. That car would be worth a small fortune today. All I have left is the shaker, mounted on the garage wall.

              The mid-late ’70s stuff is indeed going up in cost. I am grateful I got mine when I did!

  11. Great article and discussion. Please wrap up every article with a specific name/number/e-mail we can call/write/fax to express our frustration. A little push-back from the people could have surprising results. Generic terms like “government” and “politicians” don’t help us get to the root of the problem. lets you send a free fax. Most bureaucrats have an e-mail published somewhere. 20 faxes and a full voice mail from us gearheads will scare them silly. They’re used to passing regulations on a silent and complacent public. Who do we call? What department? What fax number? What e-mail?

    • Hi Mike,

      Boy, I wish it were that simple! CAFE – the fuel economy law – was passed decades ago. The 35.5 MPG bar is just the latest “adjustment.” The federal Leviathian – and bureaucracies such as the EPA, DOT and NHTSA – are beyond accountability and do what they wants. As individuals, we have virtually no say, no ability to do anything to stop it. Your “representative” doesn’t represent you in anything other than an abstract – and highly optimistic – way. In fact he represents himself and the interests that keep him in power and feed off power – and that ain’t you and me.

      • If one learns about a rule change early enough, one can submit public comments regarding it. Of course there rarely is any sort of announcement made that early to alert people concerned about it. Thus by the time people learn about it the public comment period has expired.

        Back when usenet was more used there were people who specialized in watching what was going on who would post the relevant information. It was before the net became so fragmented into little niches. I’ve made a few public comments because of that. One significant victory of that method was shooting down the DRL requirement in the USA that GM wanted.

        Now by the time I learn of something where there is public comment, the period for such has already expired.

      • So that’s it? Give up? Our only course of action is to whine to each other? Not on my watch. I can’t go with “beyond accountability.” Isn’t there some parable about a fulcrum and moving a mountain? If it’s David Strickland at NHTSA we have to “thank” for a particular rule, say so. If it’s Lisa Jackson at EPA, say so. These are people who respond to pressure. How much pressure have they felt from us, the combustion engine enthusiasts? Probably none–because we didn’t know to call them, e-mail them, fax them, etc.

      • Maybe this is not the right forum for this, but I belong to an organization called Rand Paul has recently introduced in the Senate a bill they put together called “Write the Laws.” Basically it refers to the section of the Constitution stating that “Congress shall write the laws …” and says that no regulation can be enforced unless Congress has passed it. So no CAFE standards, etc. unless there is a vote on it. To say nothing of thousands of pages of small print put into the Federal Register by various executive branch agencies.
        BTW, they also have one called “Read the Bills” which says no one can vote for a bill without affirming that they have read the entire thing. And it has to be posted on the Internet for a week before voting so we, their employers, can comment.

  12. Cry me a river. I haven’t heard anyone complaining about the demise of the V-12 or V-16, yet those went the way of the Dodo because they were, like the V-8, inefficient.

    Eric Peters sounds like my dad. He complains that the Lycoming V-8 in the Cord 810 was way better than the V-8’s made in the ’60’s. Do you believe him?

    • Vey,

      The difference here is that the deco-era (1920s) engines you reference were “retired” by natural forces, not government edicts.

      It’s a very important difference.

      Do you believe government – that is, other people – people no smarter (and possibly, dumber) than you, who simply wield power over you – ought to be entitled to force you to buy this but not that?

      • Eric

        The V-16s and V-12s of the ’20s and ’30s WERE retired by govt, just not be direct edict. They got taken out by the Great Depression which was caused by the Federal Govt and the central banking system it had erected not so long prior. There was nothing natural about it!



    • V12s and V16s have always been in very expensive, exclusive, and/or low production cars. They have never been in everyday man’s cars like the V8.

      The Jaguar V12 was the only one retired by government edict. But nobody really noticed because it was the only one ever made in great enough number to where government edict mattered. Still a car not for the common man but one he could possibly stretch himself to buy if he really wanted one bad enough. Ferrari and such just pass on the taxes. If you can afford a new Ferrari or Aston Martin you can pay the tax penalties without blinking an eye. And that’s the point, turn the car back into a rich man’s toy.

      So V12’s are pretty much where they were 50 years ago in terms of what it takes to buy a car with one. V8s are not. V8s have lost a lot of market. V8s are heading back to where they were before Henry Ford brought out the flat head.

      V16s were never more than a few and died a natural death.

      Straight 8s… also died a natural death. Not that I wouldn’t like to see a modern one.

  13. Eric, what do you think of Hyundai’s base engine in the Sonata?

    It’s a naturally-aspirated 4-cyl with something I know nothing about, Gasoline-Direct-Injection, making near 200 crank HP according to their lit.

    I haven’t had a V-8 since my 1991 Sedan de Ville (a tiny 8, but fun, making a then-claimed 200 HP). The V-8 was much torque-ier, but the 210 HP 2005 V-6 Camry I have is plenty of power for a non-car-guy like me.

    I kind of like the idea of a 4-cyl providing “enough” power to me at a lower fuel-use price point, but generally TANSTAAFL, so I thought I’d ask if you have a viewpoint on this, and an engine-power thread seemed appropriate.

    PS: Hyundai puts an 18.5 gal tank in the Sonata (and Optima) so if their EPA claims to mileage are even close, it makes for an over-600 mile range. I like that a lot.

    • Hi David,

      I think it’s an outstanding engine! Hyundai (and Kia, its subsidiary) are building some truly excellent vehicles – and not just “for the money.” Try one and see. I think you’ll be impressed.

      PS: direct injection just means that rather than spraying fuel into an intake plenum it is sprayed directly into the combustion chamber (cylinder) for increased efficiency and power.

  14. Why so much doom and gloom? Ignore the damned gummint.

    A. There are thousands of old cars out here in the hinterlands that the pols probably don’t even know exist.
    B. Most folks can’t afford a new car or truck without going into debt.

    I’m looking to make a few bucks getting A and B together.

    Also, still buying stock in oil companies.

    • Because the “polly-tishhens” think themselves and their hare-brained ideas superior and feel that their role in life is, as a power-crazed Darth Vader declared to Padme, “make things the way we WANT them to be.”. Numerous Star Wars fan fiction works have explored this theme and have concluded that a Skywalker empire would have probably been even more tyrannical (due largely to Padme’s political savvy). Likewise we need to resist while there’s even faint hope.

  15. The core of the problem, in my opinion, is that the people who make the rules don’t have to pay for them.

    People, that’s you and me, “economize” every day. Without those fuel (and crash) standards, some people would buy a Subaru Justy and get great mileage, others would scream past in their 1974 Dodge Charger, and screech to a halt at every gas station to fill back up.

    And so what? So long as prices are allowed to reflect costs, economy will drive itself because people want to cut costs.

    The core of the problem is coercion. The power to tell others what’s good for them, and enforce those judgements.

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    —C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock, p. 292.

    • Oh crud, that’s what I get for not proof reading twice. Please delete either the first or last “core”, which ever suits your fancy. Can’t have two “cores”, this isn’t a modern CPU. :^)

    • Thanks Bob,

      I had forgotten who had said that. Certainly applies to many on the Right and the Left. My brother epitomizes that condition.

      “Even with the best of intentions… We are too often wrong.” _aikiv

  16. With technology from 1933, I guess it is about time for the dinosaurs to become extinct. Big engine is great! You can pass anything but a gas station.
    But there is hope on the horizon for these monsters. It entails having a real engineer at the car designers. (That might be a problem!)
    Vaporizing the gas before it hits the piston might work. I uderstand most of the gas goes out the tailpipe in current engines.
    Increasing the temperature of the gas before it gets to the engine might work. Expanding the gas before it ignites might improve fuel use.
    Change fuels. Go to natural gas which retails at less than half what a gallon of gas retails for. That might work and be under $500 to convert.
    Then again, that might require an engineer with a good brain at work.
    It is more difficult to re-engineer an engine from 1933 that was designed to fail after a few years of use.

    • Your understanding is utterly WRONG in so many ways.

      Even in 1933, engineers understood the principles of stochiometry. Getting nearly all the fuel to burn is NOT the issue. Getting it to do so in a manner that promotes drivability, desired torque and power, and reasonable durability and reliability – that’s where the automotive engineer has had to get to work. And all that in the face of complying with ever sillier and counterproductive Federal and (Calipornia) regulations on emissions and ‘fool’ economy.
      What you’re probably wondering about is how much HEAT is actually doing useful work. It’s been improving but still the majority of the heat from combustion goes out the tailpipe or the radiator.
      What’s lost in all this is what authorizes Government to involve itself in engineering decisions best decided in the marketplace. Sheesh, if Al Gore and his I’ll had truly been involved in inventing the Internet, we’d still be using VAX 11-780s and TRS-80s.
      That’s why I’m hanging on to my Mustang with the 302 V8. Find a package that delivers power, handling, drivability, and reasonable operating costs, and can still be fixed in my garage. I hope its existence puts ‘Clovers’ and bureaucrats in a pink fit.

    • Ugh, Dave Webb, FAIL

      The principles of thermodynamics have been well-understood since the 1800’s.

      Modern engines get as close to their Carnot efficiency as they can within their materials’ limits and (therefore) at reasonable cost.

      Longevity? Take care of them, and the mechanical parts last an incredibly long time.

      The various attempts to re-engineer the standard piston IC engine–swash-plates, reciprocating free pistons, etc.–all come out with about the same thermo efficiency…and most of the same mechanical wear problems. Rotary engines? Just fine…until the seals fail, no different than piston-ring wear.

      But the best technologies–plasma-coated bores, AluSil, and the like–have made the bore just about indestructible. Bearings? If it weren’t for the hysteria over mileage, they could keep using proper oils, not the 0w-20 that’s starting to show up, and the bearings would last forever. They could also make the bearing surfaces a little bigger at the expense of efficiency to prolong life.

      No, the IC engine has come a looooooong way in a hundred years. You’re barking up the wrong tree if you think they’ve left a whole lot of efficiency off the table.

    • … and as regards planned obsolescence in 1933: at that time the vehicle market was still unsaturated enough that industry’s dreams of frequent replacement were not yet obsessive. Indeed, engineers were struggling to establish a level of basic, immediate, in-use reliability without which their products would stand no chance in the marketplace. The technology available at the time meant that reliability could not be ensured without building in a lot of durability as well – and this was especially true of the American market, which was from very early oriented to a broad population without the requisite technical knowledge or interest to see to proper maintenance. Industry would have to wait another half-century before electronic control afforded it the possibility of absolutely reliable short-term consistency of operation combined with economically absolutely-limited product life in the same automobile.

  17. The “government,” i.e., “civil government,” aka the State, is NOT your friend – especially the EPA.
    I drive a 2008 Jetta TDI. I get around 40mpg. This is 20-25% less than the previous generation of TDI’s. I’m sure part of that is due to it being larger, now 2.0L. But much of the decrease has to be because of emissions requirements, and changes made necessary by the shift to ultra-low sulfur fuel.
    However, VW makes a smaller TDI that gets 65mpg in a Passat. But it can’t be sold in the US. Note, I did not say it can’t be imported. It is made here in the US, but only for export, primarily to South America I guess.
    Why can’t we buy it? Because its emissions per gallon of fuel are 10% higher that the 2L. But it’s using only 2/3 as many gallons. These power hungry socialists can’t even do math and use common (not so common, I guess) logic.
    Even IF you believe in AGW ( I don’t), this kind of regulation makes no sense.

  18. CAFE is a good idea in theory but as pointed out it fails when ALL production/running costs are taken into account. (I.E. Hybrid batteries, shorter rebuild intervals)

    If fuel consumption and the resulting pollution are the real issue, wouldn’t a fuel rationing system make more sense? Not that I am for that either but at least it would put the cost on the actual (over)users rather than all drivers as a homogeneous group.

    For example, my only vehicle is a 6.9 N/A diesel F250 4×4. It gets ~20mpg(imperial), not great but pretty good for a full size. Thing is I put much less than 10,000 miles on it yearly so my actual environmental impact is WAY less than a Prius driving, suburb to city commuting clover who does 30,000+/year. Even more so when counting the fact that the F250 is over 25 years old, has never had a rebuild and means I don’t need a second vehicle if I want to carry something bigger than a bicycle.

    It’s not the engine size or vehicle size, it’s the (total) consumption to run and maintain them that is the issue.

    • I guess a gas tax could work well. I think the Feds and most states have taxes on fuel. They could work an additional tax that would be phased in over a period of time.

      It would encourage people to consume less fuel, without limiting what they choose to drive.

      Not that I want more taxes, but this makes more sense than CAFE.

      • But why “encourage” – that is, punish – people?

        If gas is truly getting scarce, then natural scarcity will naturally drive up prices – and trigger the appropriate consumer response.

        I oppose taxes – which is just more stealing of our resources for the benefit of the evil entity called government.

        • I can not think of a valid defense to your question.

          I only prefer my “vanilla” tax to your “chocolate” tax if I was going to be stuck with a tax regardless of me not wanting any tax.

        • 100% agreed–natural scarcity will set market prices, and lead to natural adjustments via market forces.

          Market-driven changes like this–NOT the fascist crony capitalist regulatory schemes–lead to optimal resource allocations.

          I’ve argued this point countless times in person, and every time someone gets that weepy face and says “but we’re running out of oooooooiiil“, I simply counter “Yeah, so what? The last barrel will cost $50,000, and its molecules will be delicately pried apart to synthesize something useful that just can’t be made more cheaply any other way.”

          “And then–it will be over, and we’ll have moved on to another energy source long before.”

          The alarmists–sadly, the very smart James Howard Kunstler among them–are convinced we’ll fall off a precipice. That we won’t adapt in time to transition off this marvelously cheap, flexible energy source…and that replacements rely on cheap oil to build in the first place.

          But my counter to that is–yes, if government keeps putting its fingers on the scale, the distortions will cause a misjudgement.

          But if the market is allowed to work, and we pay real market prices for oil not subsidized by military conquest, we’ll feel those market prices and adapt accordingly over time.

          Recent finds though seem to have given us a LOT of breathing room in both oil and gas…and coal’s looking renaissant, too.

          At the end of the day, all these scarcity memes are Elite propaganda campaigns to herd the sheep through fear of loss–a well-known psy-op technique. They’re bullshit–this is an abundant universe, we just have to be free to explore and use it.

      • It does not make sense from their point of view.

        A gasoline tax is immediately visible and it doesn’t really serve to control people’s choices. Increasing fuel taxes to influence people’s car buying decisions will result in the villagers grabbing the torches and the pitchforks and showing up at their offices. They can expect to be replaced in the next election faster than Michael Bilandic was kicked out for not getting the streets cleared of snow.

        CAFE on the other hand is something most people don’t understand. To the congress critters and the people at large engineering and product development is “magic”. As people become further and further removed from manufacturing realities it becomes even more so. So when the car costs too much they blame… the ‘evil’ automakers. Not congress. When they can’t buy what they really want they blame the automakers or the ‘free market’. The blame shift works.

        Then CAFE achieves their goals better. It actually controls choice. If the gas tax were merely high then a standard full size ford or chevy sedan could be purchased for a very reasonable price. Sure some people would be discouraged, others would not. They would do the math. They could get this affordable large sedan for less money than the high tech, high mpg smaller car and find that it isn’t so bad cost wise.

        CAFE is the perfect solution for the control freak cowards who run the government that rules over us. Structurally, it could be no other way.

  19. Oh, I forgot to rant on about “Progressives” who a) have no sense of humor, b) no appreciation of anything fun/cool/interesting, and c) think everyone should live/dress/work alike. I’m all for space exploration — get off the planet and leave these fools behind in their own little asylum!

  20. another clown argument, appealing to a clown audience. 4 cylinder engines have vastly more power than the V-8’s he longs for. The V-8’s of the 80’s could be floored and you’d never get a ticket for excessive acceleration. Stupid clown non-sense. Clover

    True work vehicles won’t be denied V-8’s though many of those don’t need that kind of power. I drive a 3500 dually, and haul rocks and do real work with my truck. Diesels are unfairly disparaged, but the V-8 in cars is wasteful and of no utility today. Hell, a 5 cylinder engine would be better than a V configuration anyway.

    If you dislike this post and like Mr Peter’s constant carping, you should look in the mirror. Why do you like being pandered to? Are you that insecure, that feeble minded? Evidently.

    • “4 cylinder engines have vastly more power than the V-8′s he longs for…”

      Really, Scott?

      Have you checked specs lately?

      Now, if you’re comparing the hp of today’s fours with the weakest V-8s built during the mid-late 1970s/early 1980s – ok. But that’s not much in the way of a valid comparison. The V-8s of that era were not typical of V-8 power/performance. And of course, even in gelded form, they still produced much more hp than the fours of that era.

      A more relevant point is that even the weakened V-8s of the mid-late 1970s/early 1980s produced far more torque than today’s four cylinder engines typically do. And it is torque that’s necessary to get the considerably heavier (thanks to government ukase) modern car moving with alacrity. Very few new/late-model cars weigh less than 2,500 lbs. Most well over 3,000. You need torque to move that weight – and (all else being equal) a larger displacement engine will provide more of that, with less complexity and cost, than a smaller one.

      Artificially increasing an engine’s capacity via turbo or supercharging – as is being resorted to now – can deliver torque/hp comparable to a larger displacement no-turbo or supercharged engine. But now you have added several very expensive components to the engine – which (as I wrote) negates the fuel economy benefit and also is likely to mean shorter engine life as well as higher maintenance costs.

      Is that a good thing?

      You write:

      “but the V-8 in cars is wasteful and of no utility today”

      Which is your subjective value judgment. What if others have different values? Is your opinion the arbiter – at gunpoint?

      So much for “clown” arguments.

      • Hi! Eric,

        Scottin may have been referring to specific HP and wider torque ranges in relation to volumetric efficiency. The best 4-cyl. motorcycle engines have demonstrated these efficiencies over other types of engine configurations for some time now.

        Additionally there have been a lot of advances recently with the smaller auto engines due to technology catching up to old ideas. The Fiat 500 ‘Multiair’ intake system* is a prime example.
        These valve actuation advances, also enhance turbo applications.
        These advances will have a significant impact on the immediate, continued, and future use of the ‘IC’ engine, as it will be highly efficient and economical to build. As it stands, these new highly efficient, powerful little engines are a big threat to the continued development and economic viability of
        EV’s and hybrids.

        See the SAE papers regarding electronically controlled actuation of intake valves or the link below.

        Scottin should be careful with the use of demonstrative adjectives.

        • Hi Deuce,

          Yup – agreed!

          My issue is not with small engines or efficiency – it’s with politicians (and bureaucrats) dictating terms to the market and to consumers.

          I’m a fan of both small, highly efficient little cars – and big, powerful (and perhaps not so efficient) ones. Each has their place – or rather, each has its own appeal to different people – who ought to be free to decide for themselves what best suits their own needs as well as their wants.

          When government steps in, it deprives people of choice – arbitrarily, on the basis of someone else’s value judgments (like Scott). This not only limits free choice and impairs natural market mechanisms – which are self-correcting, it’s important to note – it often retards progress and increases costs beyond what they might otherwise have been.

          • The most efficient motor vehicle in my collection happens to have a V-12 engine- one I added a pair of turbochargers to not so long ago. It is THE most highly efficient motor vehicle I have possession of. A clear contrast to that car is my 1.9 litre diesel Peugeot. Now think on why my Damiler is more efficient than the little diesel Pug.

            OK, since we are talking efficiency I’ll explain exactly what efficiency actually is. Efficiency is the measure of how much capital, resource, time and effort it takes to please me, the owner of the aforementioned, versus how much satisfaction, pleasure, experience, happiness etc is generated in the process of conversion of the former to the latter. As it happens my aesthetic preferences and good taste demand a V-12 engine (although I have nothing against a good V-8) as starting point.

            Then there are those individuals who’d prefer a hybrid instead. That choice may generate happiness efficiently FOR THEM but not necessarily for any OTHER individual. It’s a matter of aesthetics and as such is purely a subjective evaluation. I have no issue with that, so long as no-one tries to force me to do what they like, in particular when I don’t agree wuth their aesthetics or values. Anyway,

            Scot needs to understand that when it comes to any item of property, including cars, in the final analysis the standard of efficiency is what makes the owner the most happy. As Scott does not know what that is for all individuals he ought to reconsider whether his choices are valid for all other individuals. Further he needs to consider whether the use of force, threats or coercion to make other individuals do what he prefers is a civilised and moral approach to living his life.


    • Have a little grace, Scottin,

      You have more in common _Good & Bad_ with the people your attacking, then your apparent immaturity allows you to see.

      Alienating people to your argument is a no win situation or worse. People shut down when you scream and denigrate them, they no longer hear you or react in kind.

      The relative anonymity of the net, and the safe distance from reprisal, doesn’t give us the right to act poorly.

      You loose your credibility when you negatively personalize or specifically attack a person or a group whose positions are contrary to your own. If you think your argument has merit, present it in credible, respectful way. Help bring us together and not push us further apart. Eric showed you the way of it, try to follow suit. We will all be better off for it.

      Regards …Tre

      • Hi Ross,

        GM is getting 500-plus hp out of a pushrod, two-valve layout… these “old techology” engines are simple to build, extremely durable and totally understressed.It’s not necessary to $4,000 worth of turbos or a supercharger to get all this power/performance, either.

        And they’re not even that piggy. A Corvette can hit 30 MPG on the highway if driven moderately.

        • For a car with the Corvette’s capabilities that is impressive.

          Power on demand when needed, yet the ability to drive with good economy on a daily basis.

          • It is!

            And if the Corvette weighed 400 or so pounds less – which it easily could, were it not for the diktats of Uncle – it could get 35 MPG and still have a 400 hp V-8 under the hood….

          • I drive a 1984 corvette (in excellent condition, original with Crossfire system) each day. She gets about 26mpg on the highway if I’m gentle (which I mostly am), but I must admit city mileage is pretty horrible. But, I have a short commute so my total gas bill is still not bad. When I get a nice day I can pop off the targa top and enjoy the open road. The engine (though underpowered by today’s standards) makes good torque and has a satisfying sound. Lets face it, if I had 600hp in my 28 year old daily driver, would it be wise to race it around? If I want to stand on her a bit, she accommodates that fine.

            Older cars, well maintained, can be a huge boon. I consider it quite ‘green’ because it only had to be manufactured once, nearly three decades ago. I track repair and maintenance costs, which come in at about 35-40% of the cost of a fairly ‘average’ on a new car. My initial payment was less than a third of the average price of a new car, and performs similarly or slightly better. Other people still buy and drive C4s, so there is something of a floor in depreciation, and parts are readily available. In Maryland, she’s old enough to qualify for historic tags which gets me an emissions exemption. And, Maryland has no annual safety inspection like Virginia does, so I’m not subject to any scrutiny that I can detect.

            I’ve been trying optimize my automobile experience to maximize enjoyment while minimizing costs and exposure to hassle, silliness, and top-down control. So far, the experiment is working 🙂

            I tell this story because everybody has different tastes and different uses for their autos. There are still alot of choices in the marketplace. There is no doubt, the clover masses by and large will continue to buy new, expensive cars, which fail to satisfy after the new smell abates. They will maximize their exposure to ownership costs they can hardly forsee, let alone deal with. I say let them continue in that vein. Those missteps provide cheap parts and opportunities down the road for smarter and more enterprising souls.

          • Auto for mine. As you said in another article somewhere, the low end torque makes the auto work just fine. Mine’s the regular GM TH700R4. There are so many of them out there I’ll be in trannies for a long time to come 🙂 When I was shopping I tried some of the 6-speed versions, the throw seemed strange and creepy.

            • Yup – and, those boxes have really deep final/OD gearing – resulting in at least the possibility of decent gas mileage… if, that is, you can keep your foot out of it!

  21. The stupid bastards in government don’t understand “false economy,” as you pointed out. On top of repair cost, if an engine wears out prematurely, either it or the car will have to be replaced. This means all the “hidden” pollution from building an engine will have to be reproduced. At least, that is, until cars are so heavily taxed, or even illegal, that only the “Dear Leader” of the day will be able to afford a V-8 equipped armored limo to drive around in. Of course, this will all occur against the backdrop of a country which has an effectively worthless mass transit infrastructure, so we will not only have a hard time getting around in a car, we’ll also have hard time trying to get anywhere without one.

    Anyone who looks at our future and is even a little optimistic is a self-deluding moron. The end of humanity is going to be suicide from stupidity.

  22. Eric,

    I too am concerned about a potential ban or restrictions on older cars. My plan is always to buy at the bottom of the depreciation curve and leverage my experience as a mechanic to provide a stable of interesting and useful cars for a small investment. Restrictions could very well put me in a position of not only spending more, but also being more dependent as the technology excludes home repair of an increasing number of components.

    Since it is already a common thing outside of the U.S., why do we hear so little regarding model year restrictions and/or bans among us enthusiasts? Certainly, we should be concerned.

    • Yup.

      To date, such efforts have been unsuccessful, arguably because of the existence of a large (and fairly affluent) old car hobby. However, the hobby is graying ( I wrote about this a few months back; see here: ) and may be losing its clout. Younger people – generally – don’t care much about cars and consider them – understandably – to be just another appliance.

      Combine that with the permeation of our society with “safety” and “green” cant – and I can easily envision cars without computers, air bags, etc. limited to car show-only status, perhaps even banned outright and /or rendered inoperable by drilling holes in the engine block or filling the crankcase with silica (they did this already during the Cash for Clunkers program).

    • The efforts to ban old cars and strangle the parts supply were for the most part beaten in the early 1990s. They will likely come back.

      The greying Eric refers to is IMO because of the social circle. Since Eric’s article, I’ve repeatedly gone to a couple different car shows this year. They are really social events that I really don’t feel very welcome even walking around. The mean age is probably 55. One of them allows SN95 Mustangs but I don’t feel comfortable trying to bring mine into the show area. Maybe it’s the worn driver’s seat but it’s mostly because it seems to be a social circle of folks that don’t want outsiders. Oh and the owners of the SN95s in the show… yeah 55+. I think maybe if I expand my range some and drive 30 miles I might find something with younger folks, then again I am not too hopeful.

      Furthering my theory on this is finding out about these events. They are essentially word of mouth affairs. Last sunday I saw one being set up three blocks away from home… never heard about it. Couldn’t go because I had other things to do. People have tried to make local compilations of when and where but it’s often inaccurate or missing key bits of info. Half the battle is learning when and where they are.

      Lastly there is the bidding up of the cars. Flush with their 401K withdrawals these guys have made the cars most people would have interest in far too expensive. Sure people can get the less interesting models, then they are always shoved off to the far corners if someone brings them to show.

      It all doesn’t bode too well wrt legislation. The control freaks are probably just waiting for enough people to die off to once again press their old car bans. They’ve been trying to ban pre 1980 cars since about 1986.

      • I recently had a conversation with two younger (recent college grad) guys. They are not especially interested in cars as other than “get me where I need to go.” I asked some questions and found that mostly, this car anomie arises from several factors:

        * Older guys have driven up the cost of the appealing stuff. And as you say, the old guys can be unfriendly. Plus, they’re old.

        * Endless hassles from cops – including harassment of cruising/informal get-togethers (not permitted or sanctioned, etc.) You know – the old “hey, meet up at the shopping mall parking lot” stuff we did when we were teenagers. That’s much harder to do in police state USA.

        * No money. These kids are saddled with debt we never dreamed of, a disastrous job market, crippling housing costs, etc.

        Many don’t even own a car – or would like not to – because it’s just another expense and just another hassle.

        • I believe many younger people still have a strong interest in cars but due to economic reasons are forced to express their interest differently.I’m 35 and many of my friends buy ’70s and ’80s cars and trucks as daily drivers and fix them up slowly, knowing the only return on their investment will be a vehicle they will have their whole life. These things are rarely “show worthy” due to age or condition. I bought an ’87 full size Bronco as a beater to tow a trailer and within 2 weeks found myself in two Bronco clubs who meet regularly throughout the region. There’s even Crown Vic clubs where my ’96 is welcome. The interest is there, it’s just changed alot in the last decade.

        • Hi! Eric,

          A lot of what you commented on is certainly applicable to today’s younger generations

          I raised my son(now 23) not to be a Gear Head by apprising him of the realities of cars and keeping him at arms length from motorized vehicles such as motorcycles, jet skis, snowmobiles, etc.

          He really enjoys old cars, but usually in the context of him and I going to car shows or driving one of my old clunkers too one.
          He recently told me that he doesn’t think he will ever own a car(still doesn’t have a license), but time will tell. He has fully embraced the bike life, and is storied in the NW with his bike feats. But that is my kid.

          I spend time with other young people who are totally into the car culture life style, daily and on the weekends. So take heart that it hasn’t died yet, and may even be having a resurgence of interest. If you have doubts, visit Las Vegas in early March.

          Rent a Camaro or Mustang convertible and check out the pretty Grrl’s and rockin V-8’s at ‘Viva Las Vegas’ show at the ‘Orlean’s’. I guarantee you a great time.

          Jeez! Have I managed to get ‘V-8’ into every comment…col!

          COL! … Chuckling Out Loud!

          • Hi Deuce,

            My expectation is the car hobby will continue to exist, but as more of a niche thing as opposed to a general cultural thing.

            There are still people who love old steam locomotives – and if you look hard, you can find get-togethers, museums, even occasionally a running example to admire. Within 20 or 30 years, I expect the same to happen to the car hobby. There will still be shows, people who keep and restore old vehicles – etc. But by then, new cars will either be fully automated, sealed-hood/throwaways or nonexistent altogether – and most people will regard cars as you and I know them as relics from a bygone era – just like a steam locomotive today.

            I hope I am wrong,of course – but that’s my prediction.

          • The crowds and active members in auto stuff I’m involved in are, as some of you mention, generally older than me—and I’m pushing 50. Younger men are seldom interested in cars, their history, how they work, how to fix them, etc. This doesn’t bode well for us enthusiasts on many levels.

            But why is this happening? Here is my quick list:

            1. All cars are far more expensive to buy and fix.

            2. Few later-model cars can reasonably be repaired (or often even maintained) by the owner because of complex procedures, expensive parts, special tools, inaccessible fasteners, etc. They are a pain to work on. Few want to bother themselves.

            3. Computers and video games gobble vast amounts of younger people’s time—time that then is not spent in the real world learning about real things.

            4. Shop classes in public schools have gone by the wayside.

            5. Younger males increasingly come from single-parent (almost invariably the mother) households. Mom knows little about cars and doesn’t care about them per se. They serve as an appliance. Therefore, the boy learns nothing about cars or how fun they are as he is growing up.

            6. The old car hobby, as others here note, has become too expensive.

            7. In general, as Eric has noted, younger people live in tougher times and will probably never have the disposable income (or time) to mess about with cars as a hobby or interest. Heck, things were changing even 30 years ago when I was younger in this regard. The world was changing in this aspect even then.

            Feel free to add more.

            • Hi EK,

              Your list pretty much sums it up.

              It’s depressing to witness – and more, alarming, because as the number of people interested in the old car hobby dwindles, it will become much easier for the Clovers to do things like ban cars built before a certain model year or impose outrageous restrictions on their use.

          • It’s the social nature of what is being used as a yardstick. Quite frankly I think the hobby is doing it to itself as the old men who dominate it just don’t seem like they want new blood. But they are the ones with the licenses and the permissions and know the people who know the people who can make a gathering happen without police busting it up. They can actually get the blessings of the local PD. (another disgusting thing is the cops at local car shows… so many of them have some police car on display along with the PR cops…)

            Up until maybe 3 years ago there was huge gathering in mall parking lot a couple towns away of people with their cars and most were under 20, only a few over 30. It doesn’t happen any more. The 3+ cops (not PR types) are still there every friday and saturday night. Maybe a couple cars and half dozen or less people in the very back of the lot as far from the cops as possible. That’s it. It’s done. a thing of the past.

            Plus many of these car shows are set up like a 1970s car is still not even 20 years old and thus those with anything newer are unwelcome. 70s cars are entering their 40s now. But these old men don’t want some kid showing up with his mid-late 1980s or early 1990s project. Just as valid as the 70s car was in the 90s. But the rules are still the rules. Made after 1977? Take a hike.

            It’s going to be like an old fraternal lodge. Make it exclusive long enough and soon you find nobody gives a damn anymore. There are lots of younger folks interested cars, but they are atomized. You’re not going to find them represented in rl gatherings. You’ll find them on the net. I’ve helped bunches of them in the mustang groups.

            Anyway… as these old men die off at least that should run prices for their cars down. 😉

            • Hey Brent!

              I agree – to an extent.

              But, and I admit this is anecdotal, I’ve got a few friends in their 20s – and they’re just not into cars. They see them as appliances at best – encumbrances at worst. They’re much more interested in electronics. A few are interested in bikes – new sport bikes. But not much interest in working on them.

              I think much of the reason why has to do with the fact that late-model stuff is more intimidating to mess with, from the point of view of a first-timer. Port EFI vs. a carb – etc. We had no computers – or even electronics, really – to confront at first. And if there’s no first time – no basic fiddling – one never gets to the point of disassembling an engine. I think for most people there’s a window – young teens to early 20s – during which you either start to work on cars, or you never do. More and more young people never start – and so, never do.

              Related: Cost. No question, owning and working on a car today is more expensive than it was even in my youth, back in the ’80s. I could afford, as a teenager working at a fast food place, to drive and fix up a V-8 powered Camaro. Fill the tank for $20 or so. Today, it costs $80 to fill the same car’s tank. Few teens can afford that on their own. Insurance and taxes are also a huge barrier – more so now than then.

              I’ve asked a few of these 20-somethings and they’ve told me it’s just too much hassle – too much money – or some combination.

          • Eric,
            I don’t want to seem repetitive so I’ll say one thing… you’ve got to go start hanging around the various model forums where you’ll encounter teenagers. They largely have no fear of the electronics. They’ll reflash them, hack them, do whatever. Even the ignorant and dumb teenagers will order a scanner and get a ‘tune’ from a company, a buddy, or some guy on the internet and reflash their car’s ECU with it.

            Old guys are afraid of the electronics, not the teenagers. Old guys want teenagers to work with points and carbs… to be allowed into the club. the kids work with electronics and computers. They don’t have cars made before computer controls. The engine management system computer is 30+ years old now. But those cars still aren’t allowed to be shown at many a car show run by the old guys.

          • Brent, I agree with you, and I wholly applaud that these kids are gaining for themselves the power to subvert the electronics. But there is something else here that needs to be said.
            Because all technological developments undergo a process of vernacularization as people get into the nitty-gritty and figure out how to make the technology work for them; and because there is on the side of vested industrial interests an undeniable agenda to ensure that the prevailing technology remains a step or two ahead of that process of vernacularization, so that a substantial majority of users never get to figure out how to get the technology to work in any way except as decreed from on high; it is tempting to conclude that our problem with certain technological developments is purely a matter of our position in the processes of vernacularization relative to the prevailing cutting edge, as it were. The corollary implication is that there are no substantive qualitative shifts in technological development that are not resoluble by accelerated vernacularization by vigorous endeavours to “keep up to date”.
            As will come as no surprise, given the username I favour on several fora, I take issue with this on several points. Firstly, there is a fundamental change in the mode of technological engagement implicit in digital micro-electronics, in that a third class is inserted between the natural and the man-made, the raw and the wrought: and that class has a linguistic, formal character whose terms are required to be accepted above and beyond the acceptance of pure physics or chemistry. That is to say, this mode of technological engagement relies on the facilitation of an additional agency, which facilitation is not readily duplicated or emulated even in part on a back-yard basis. The protocols need to be animated from without before anything can happen.
            Secondly, the very process of change is neither blind nor spontaneous but constitutes the functioning of a “future machine” whose purpose is to maintain the conditions necessary for its own perpetuation, i.e. to maintain sufficient demand for ultra-high-volume mass-manufacture through a state of constant obsolescence. This is predicated on an increasingly vigorous intellectual-property regime, i.e. an unmistakable instance of State-enforced privilege.
            The result is an historically largely unprecedented character of technological development that is linear and non-cumulative, i.e. later developments tend to make earlier methods impossible, so that we are all constrained to a perpetual game of Simon Says without really gaining in real net technological power. In this the development of digital micro-electronics has played a pivotal part, as its characteristics are ideal for it. This is in contrast with the broad historical trend in technological development until relatively recently, which has generally broadened the available range of techniques.
            Thirdly, as cultural developments the above have resulted in a sort of blindness to the technical prerequisites for the use of the technology. Hence the prevailing view, especially among the technophilic, that microchips are “just there”, and not manufactured in fairly heavily capitalized factories; that they cost virtually nothing; and that every product generation represents a sort of Final Answer. Any normal person would be able to see that this is not so, but for the pervasiveness of this attitude.

            What I’d like to see is certainly not technological stagnation, but a different form of technological development, a sort of non-progressive innovation that really does increase the range of stuff we can do, by adding new techniques without thereby invalidating existing techniques.

          • Take someone who knew the cars of 1913 well. Put him in 1953. In 1913 he could have made practically everything on the car himself provided he had the skills. But 1953? Hydraulic brakes, how’s a man supposed to deal with that? He could understand a leather strap on wheel… but an incompressible fluid in pipes making things work? It’s Magic! A man could see how the leather strap works but now everything happens hidden away from view inside an iron drum.

            Furthermore, how is a man with a simple forge and blacksmith shop supposed to achieve these tolerances and make new seals. And the brake shoes.. how is he supposed to make those linings? He could easily cut a new leather strap to size. Special tools. Special knowledge. etc and so forth. Take any 40 year span of advancing technology and the same arguments can be used.

            You argue it’s not a gain in technological power…. but in the rain I drove in last night I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be in my ’73 vs. my other cars. Electronic control systems are not difficult to understand. They are simple logical things. Anyone who can follow a vacuum control system can handle it. Essentially electronics have replaced leak and problem prone vacuum operated systems. They do the job much better too.

            The “intellectual-property regime” has always existed and really is a different argument. However, so far, it hasn’t really stopped kids. I am of the first generation that rejected this old fashioned notion used by the state to grant special privilege. As cars become more electronic the “intellectual-property regime” becomes more difficult to keep around. Things were a lot more difficult to modify and copy when they had to be made with very expensive tooling and large factories. More and more things are becoming like games for a commodore 64.

            The technological blindness… that being a particular peeve of mine I can say that most people didn’t know how vacuum spark advance worked either. It’s not new. It’s more prevalent today because this country has moved away from manufacturing. People don’t make stuff any more so it has become more magic. It’s not the stuff itself, it’s that they are further and further removed from the process of creation. Thank the banks and financial industry for that. For generations american society has rewarded parasitical activities more than activities of creation. The result we see today was predictable.

            There are always going to be new methods to replace the old. Even if there wasn’t central bank inflation someone would come up with better ways. What took an ozt of gold yesterday of human labor to produce might take only 7/8ths ozt of gold today in human labor to produce. Or it might still take 1 ozt but be vastly better in quality, durability, appearance, etc. The market would decide. The market doesn’t take to sitting still. It takes the state to make it static, it takes the state to keep the old ways around when better ways are developed such that few people want to do it the old way any longer.

  23. I am quite sure that, were he not President, Obozo would be driving a Toyota Pious or a Volvo; not a big honking V8.

    Just remember; “you didn’t build that”

      • Before he traded it for a Ford Escape hybrid.

        He has stated that he will acquire a Chevy ‘Volt’ when he leaves office, but life is what happens when your planning other things.

        For myself it will be either a Tesla ‘S’ or the new Cadillac ‘ELR’. We live in exciting automotive times guys/gals, don’t needlessly frown and whine about the future of cars…it looks pretty good from my perspective. The dismal seventies are not repeating anytime soon, unless we hit or exceed a 2 degree rise in global temperature real soon.

        • The Tesla and ELR are good-looking vehicles but also extremely expensive. The base price of the Tesla is more than $57,000. Even if if costs nothing to “fuel,” the up-front costs make this a for-the-affluent-only vehicle. You’re looking at payments in the range of $800/month for six years (assuming zero interest).

          These EVs are toys for rich people – which I have no problem with, incidentally. What I do have a problem with is that the Tesla in particular (and also the others) are massively subsidized by government, which is wrong in and of itself, but which has also eliminated moral hazard from the equation.

        • [Obama] has stated that he will acquire a Chevy ‘Volt’ when he leaves office.

          Sure, and I’m going to win both the Powerball and Megamillions in the same week. But even if this lying asshole does buy a Volt (with the unearned and stolen pension money he’ll get after leaving office), that’s all he’ll do. It will probably sit in some garage somewhere and gather dust and rust, because he and that bitchtard wife of his wouldn’t be caught dead driving around in something so far beneath their status – not that they’ll ever have to drive themselves anywhere again anyway.

    • The Swedes make some damn fine vehicles. My old Volvo diesel wagon was a sweet, heavy, lumbering ride. Funny that it had an Audi engine. I believe it was a straight non-turbo five cylinder. Besides, Volvo and Scania have a goodly share of the diesel truck market in Europe and elsewhere. They get their nanny status from all the soccer-mom buyers they target to.

      • They do, and in the vein of this thread, they make a damn fine 4.4L V-8 or Yamaha does for them to their design.

        The ‘B8444S’ is a bit different with its 60* degree V set-up, which reduces the deck and overall height of the engine. Its light weight(418 pounds) is a significant factor in FWD applications.

        The Noble 600(RWD/Mid-engine) uses a version that puts out 650 HP with twin turbos and tops out at around 220 MPH.

        It is also a good looking engine in this day of plastic componentry covers. Where is the $^#@$^*@ engine.

        I was introduced to this V-8 Volvo when a friend bought a XC90, what a surprise when we popped the hood, even he/I didn’t know it had a V-8 or that Volvo/Yamaha built one.

        I introduced V-8’s to Volvo’s in the mid Sixties when I dropped a Ford 260″ V-8 and 4-speed tranny into a 58′ Volvo ‘544’. Fun car and a real sleeper.

        Actually Volvo had an early V-8(52′-73′) of which there is little info on, and what is there, indicates that was never put into a car, except for the possibility of a couple of concepts.

        • I remember that one!

          Isn’t that Yamaha-sourced V-8 the same one Ford used back in the mid 1990s Taurus SHO? This was back when Volvo was part of the Ford Family of Fine Cars, too – part of PAG, Premier Auto Group.

          • Reg; “Isn’t that Yamaha-sourced V-8”

            No, it is actually a different engine, designed by Volvo, built by Yamaha.

            “Officials of all three companies involved insist that the Volvo V8 is not related to the SHO engine.”

            There are some similarities such as the 60* degree bank layout and 4-valve breathing.

            The Volvo was FWD Transverse only, and all aluminum. The SHO V-8 was Duratec based, set-up for both FWD/Transverse and RWD/Longitudinal, with a cast iron block.

            Couldn’t find the ‘SAE’ papers on the Volvo?



          • Volvo V8 and Taurus SHO V8 are related. The Volvo is an improved version of the Taurus. They come from the same design team and same production tooling. There is also another version which is well worth a look at- a 5.3 litre version which Yamaha sell as an outboard engine. In the UK there was a lunitic who used to build crew boats powered by as many as 7 of the things. THey were quite rapid….

  24. What is going to be the solution then for having a tow vehicle, i.e. something that can tow the larger and heavier 5th Wheels and Travel Trailers, now boasting two, three and sometimes even four slide outs? People are going to need something to tow with.

    • As long as they don’t outlaw older vehicles (and I am very concerned about this) you can just drive something older that can pull a load. Right now, in fact, you can score a great deal on a “gas hog” 2500 (or even 1500) older model truck. Keep it around for towing; drive something not as thirsty when you’re not towing.

      • That is the plan Eric, stratify your transport needs, if you can afford too.

        I have everything from a Bicycle to a a one ton truck and motor home which are rarely driven. The Truck to haul trailers/cars, and materials, the motor home for race weekends. The bicycle is used daily for local errands and exercising my old body.

        Longer local trips and up to 500 mile trips are handled by my Miata. Anything longer, well, now, that is a problem looking for a solution, as I recently installed an M5 V-8 in my old, reliable, fun, efficient, E-36 328is coupe which served me admirably for sixteen years and 200,000 miles, as a long distance GT.

        The replacement is under deliberate consideration, but the only cars under consideration are the GenCoup 2.0 T, Camaro V-6, or FRS/BRZ. Would love a new 3-series Touring, but being semi-retired, something has to give.

        • Yup!

          I have just about one of everything – from a two-stroke triple all the way to an almost 8 liter cast iron/pushrod V-8.

          One bike with a “twisted twin.” One with a DOHC inline four. Another big single. Two small trucks. One diesel tractor.

          Lots of trickle chargers!

          • “Lots of trickle chargers!” LOL!

            That is the untold story of having a collection of vehicles, especially bikes. Annual battery cost can’t get onerous. New strategies have to be developed.

            I/we have dedicated charging/bat maintenance bench. I never leave batteries in bikes, unless they are very frequently ridden. Even those get a rubber puck or mat under the kick stand or center stand to break the grounding contact through the stands when parked. Really helps keep the bat charged up and extends the bat life enormously..

            Batteries need nearly constant attention, especially bike bats.

            Note; We never leave bats in cars or bikes for several reasons, the least of which is bat life, the predominate reason is the potential fire danger if a car or bikes electrical system burns down. Over the years I have heard of this happening too many times. I believe that Reggie Jackson lost his great collection due to that reason.

            Attached garages have to have fire rock and a (1) hour fire door for this reason.
            If there is living space above the garage, a double layer of fire rock(5/8″‘s) on the garage ceiling is required. House windows facing an attached Carport, have to be fire rated.

            I know more unnecessary nuisance laws, but recently a family was lost when their car caught fire under an attached carport that wasn’t installed to code to their double wide. It was an electrical fire. It happens.

            • It’s hard even keeping track of them! This is why I keep a little notebook for each vehicle (including farm stuff) in which I record such things as when the battery was purchased. Also – of course – maintenance (what/when, etc.)

              It helps. But it’s still a lot to keep track of.

              I put a block of wood under the kick stand, too.

              I don’t pull the batteries, though. Instead, I ride/drive everything at least once or twice a month. So far, this system has worked pretty well for me.

              I suspect the key is not leaving any machine idle for more than a month at a time.

              PS: I’ve upgraded to “gel mat” batteries – superior performance, lower weight, don’t leak. They cost more, but no worries about acid drip on my freshly painted frames!

    • If members of congress don’t need it, neither do you.

      One of the things I’ve noticed about many people who go for government office is an apparent lack of hobbies, interests, etc. It seems their hobby is power and telling other people how to live. The odds of a majority of those in the federal government understanding needing to tow something large is practically zero. They hire people for such things.

    • Don’t panic Jason,

      Stratification of vehicle types will continue. The governing factor, at least for the foreseeable future, will be fuel cost, and hopefully, common sense.

      I will still have my old Chevy extracab 4×4 that has been to the Arctic circle three times now, and is still on its first engine and tranny. And my old GMC Crew cab with 500,000+ miles, still serves me as a utility truck/tow vehicle with its 383 Stump puller mill, its third engine.

      Eventually the government ‘might’ attempt to apply a means or condition test, but it will be a tough sell, especially in the West and South.

      Regards …Tre

  25. Correction!

    In 2012, for the first time in history, over 60 million cars passenger cars will be produced in a single year (or 165,000 new cars produced every day).

    After a 9% decline in 2009 (due to the 2008 global financial crisis), global car production immediately jumped back the following year with a 22% increase in 2010, to then consolidate at the current 3% yearly growth rate.

    Going back in history, in 2006 there were less than 50 million passenger cars produced in the world, with an increase of 6.45% over the previous year. The increase for 2007 was more modest, and 2008 showed a decline. Analysts from various institutes had in fact pegged the year 2007 as the year which would end the 5-year cycle (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006) of record global auto sales worldwide.
    year cars produced
    in the world
    2011 59,929,016
    2010 58,264,852
    2009 47,772,598
    2008 52,726,117
    2007 53,201,346
    2006 49,918,578
    2005 46,862,978
    2004 44,554,268
    2003 41,968,666
    2002 41,358,394
    2001 39,825,888
    2000 41,215,653
    1999 39,759,847

    Just 40 years ago, in 1970, the world total was only a quarter of a billion vehicles–a number that took 85 years to achieve.

    The 1970 total doubled in just 16 years, to 500,000,000 by 1986. It took 24 more years to double again, to the current 1 billion.

    By some projections, the world could house as many as 2.5 billion vehicles by 2050.

    And how to mitigate the enormous environmental impact of such a large “car park,” as it’s known among global planners, is … to say the least … a challenge.

    • This again supports my contention that the currently predominant type of environmental and safety regulation greatly stimulates the very phenomena they purport to control! And I have no doubt that regulation with even bigger teeth will result in even greater volumes of production of an even more limited range of models by an even more exclusive club of manufacturers, and consequently even more traffic congestion, even shorter vehicle lives, even more environmental impact, and even more debt for the average consumer.

      The thing is insane. But one cannot help wondering, cui bono? That is clear enough.

      • Hi! Ned,

        Efficiency isn’t driving vehicle production to any large degree, it is emerging markets and world full of 7 billion humans who want to own a car and are now finding the means to own one.

        Cars last longer now then ever, and we should do everything possible to not recycle them. The ‘Cash for Clunkers’ was a disaster environmentally, as vehicles with a lot of useful life left in them were recycled at a very high environmental cost.

        And yes, it is clearly ‘Insane’.

        Regards ..Tre

    • Meanwhile governments around the world are acting to make vehicles more resource intensive to build and forcing premature retirement of existing vehicles.

      • Hi! Brent,

        Governments(?) or public demand for safer, more efficient, cleaner operating vehicles force minimum vehicle conditions.

        Vehicle density in highly populous areas is the driving factor behind meeting minimum levels of clean vehicle operation.

        Believe me, stand on the street during the ‘Hot August Nights’ cruise in Reno or Grants Pass, Oregon and you will succinctly understand why we need vehicles to operate cleanly and efficiently.

        Residents in both Washoe County, Nevada, and Josephine County, Oregon, do not have to DEQ their cars or have ‘classic’ exemptions. Cars 68′ and older in Nevada, and 75′ and older in Oregon, do not have to submit to a DEQ test for licensing. No car in Josephine County, Oregon has to be DEQ. There are a lot of California cars registered in Josephine county.


        • The emissions level required was surpassed by the late 1980s. Everything since has been very little for a lot of money. The bright spot is that much of the further reduction would have happened anyway on the quest to more power.

          I am very familiar with carburetor equipped cars. There really is no excuse for them to be running as you are alluding to. When I drove my ’73 as a daily driver and before RFG, (and my ’75 before that) I could have that ford straight six tuned to pass emissions levels for 1982 and newer cars on the state level. This is with a ’73 that has no cat.

          The problem is the constant attention needed for that. Once I no longer drove it daily getting it to that level was no longer possible for me. I used to adjust the carb frequently with the prevailing weather when I daily drove it. I got so good at it I did it by feel most of the time. This is what happens when you’ve played with the same basic engine from the time you were a child on up. Just fine adjustments because I could feel or smell it. Nothing a ‘normal’ person would do or notice. Now computers do this sort of compensation.

    • This only reminds me once again of when I lived in Japan. As a vehicle aged it became more and more expensive to pay for the “insurance tax” and so perfectly fine automobiles were sold off cheap and then ended up on cargo ships headed for Russia and elsewhere. These automobiles probably had very low miles on them, perfectly useable, but the Japanese essentially were “dumping” them offshore due to their governments mandates. What happens when you can no longer make your problems “disappear”?

      • Hi! Mot,

        Actually weren’t they sent to the ‘breakers’ as our Aussie, English, and Kiwi brothers would call auto recyclers/wrecking yards?

        I benefited from this practice by acquiring several very rare ‘JDM’ engines sent to the US in containers.

        Regards ..Tre

  26. Two turbos(?), Twin turbos(?), or ‘Twin Scroll’ Turbos, Eric. There is a big difference and most manufacturer’s use a single turbo or a ‘Twin Scroll’ turbo on inline and boxer configurations.

    I have been sounding the return of the small displacement ‘Turbo Four’ for some time now. It is either that or start looking for your galoshes and invest in an umbrella and overcoat for your wait at the bus stop.

    I love the sound of a V-8 and have my share of them here in the shop, so Hot Rodders will still be driving V-8’s. But I welcome the return of efficient, low displacement 4-cylinder engines. I drive one(Miata) everyday, and when I want to feel the power and music of a V-8 I grab my M5 powered 328is, or M5 powered 540i Touring. And for a different flavor, my 27′ Ford powered with 39′ Cadillac Flathead V-8, or my Lotus Seven ‘Type’ LS powered sports racer. And there are other V-8 vehicles in the shop that would fill that need. It will be quite awhile before an aficionado of V-8’s will be unable to obtain one for his/her weekend pleasure.

    I for one, welcome a truly modern iteration of a Pony car with a HP Turbo Four. I put my money on one in 1985 when I bought a new Mustang SVO. One of the best, production, performance cars I have ever owned. I never missed the V-8 power, actually in 84′ through 86′, the SVO was initially faster then the GT V-8, Ford had to slow it down a bit by putting a heavier flywheel in it so it would be slightly slower then the GT. A situation easily remedied with a lighter flywheel, and boost control modifications that allowed up to 28 pounds of boost, those changes allowed the ‘SVO’ to leave the GT’s in the proverbial dust, along with Corvettes, 911’s etc, all while getting 22 to 30+ MPG with much better handling then the nose heavy V-8’s. No, didn’t miss the V-8 at all.

    It is time we all grew up. We add over 40+ million vehicles to the planet every year…40 MILLION. Plus the ones already in use, now over One Billion and counting.

    Whether you believe in ‘human caused’ global warming or not, vehicles do pollute, and that is a lot of pollution added to the atmosphere and ground and surface waters every year. So lets not mourn the passing of the V-8 as a mass production engine.

    • Hi Deuce,

      Reasonable points – however, I wonder about the proverbial “net.” It’s a fact that as cars become more efficient to drive, people tend to drive more – negating the “saving gas” gains. In fact, it’s often the case that people burn more fuel, in total – even if their MPGs are higher.

      This is already a major issue as regards infrastructure – paid for by motor fuels taxes.

      There’s also the issue of probably shorter vehicle life – as an example, consider your SVO. A great car – I’m old enough to remember them, too. But I can’t recall the last time I saw one. But I see same-era V-8 GTs pretty frequently, and they appear to be in use as daily drivers. Why? Because it’s easy – and fairly inexpensive – to rebuild a 5 liter V-8. And such an engine can be expected to run reliably, requiring minimal upkeep, for 150,000-plus miles. My experience with turbo cars has been that by 70,000 miles or so, they’re getting tired. Rebuilding them is also much more expensive. Compare the cost of just the turbo (leaving aside the intercooler, or the exhaust plumbing) vs. a complete rebuild kit (new pistons, rings, bearings, etc.) for the V-8. ….

      Now, granted, much has changed since the mid-1980s and I’ll agree that today’s turbocharged and supercharged engines are – probably – more durable. But the jury’s out on this. It is a maxim, isn’t it, that the more complex a given mechanical system is, the more likely it is to have problems – and sooner? So, assume shorter vehicle life – in the sense that the vehicle reaches the point of being not worth fixing from an economic point of view – sooner. That means people throw away cars earlier – resulting in more cars being built.

      I’d much rather see lightweight, non-turbo cars built as a way to improve efficiency without killing performance. A 2,000 lb. car with a 200 hp V-6 would be great – no turbo required!

      • Hi! Eric,

        Always the best responses on the automotive net.

        Good points about increased use due to lower consumption realities, how that actually plays out with levels of consumption depends on the given parameters of the study. But I’m pretty sure that if we were all driving typical 1966 cars, with today’s population, were would all be gagging and searching for fuel at any price. The biggest impact on reduced fuel consumption, isn’t smaller more efficient engines/hybrids/diesels, or EV’s, it is the rising, higher cost of fuel.
        And anecdotally, I often take more short and long trips in my Miata because of its great mileage…28-30MPG city/38-40MPG hwy, driven reasonably. You all forget about Hybrids and new high MPG vehicles and go out and buy yourself a 1.6L MX-5/Miata. Then you can pat yourself for going Green, while grinning from ear to ear from the pure pleasure of driving.
        Small and efficient use, is the true green. Your ‘Green’ Hybrid SUV, still isn’t green, unless it is fully utilized for its intended purpose.

        As to the point of more V-8 GT’s on the road then ‘SVO’s’. The SVO(like my 2000′ Cobra’R’) was an extremely low production vehicle(less then 10,000), that cost nearly twice as much as a GT($6,000 more in 84’dollars),and are now coveted collectibles, that are shown and rarely driven. The like year(84′-86′) GT’s are more common and not really collectible…yet, so they still are used as daily drivers. There are a ton of beater GT’s in daily use on the West Coast.

        As for the cost of rebuilding a V-8 compared to the L4 Pinto motor, well, that is about twice as much as the four cylinder. Turbos are cheap now days and inter-coolers never fail. The SVO was a very reliable car even under SS competition.

        Thanks for the response Eric.

        • Hi Deuce,

          We aim to be!

          We’re on the same page, incidentally. I ride one of my five bikes as often as practical, both because I love to ride and also because I love paying out very little for gas. My ’83 GL650 Interstate gets 50 MPG no matter how I ride it – and I paid $2,000 for the bike itself. With three hard bags, the thing can carry a surprising quantity of stuff – almost anything short of a 4×8 sheet of OSB and maybe even that with some Bungee cord engineering!

          On rebuild costs: To be clear, I was referring to the cost of rebuilding something like my old 455 Pontiac vs. rebuilding something along the lines of a new Ecoboost twin turbo V-6. Or even a modern turbo four. Correct me if I’m wrong, but last time I checked, a new/rebuilt turbo – just the turbo – is about $2,000 or thereabouts. I know for a fact I can rebuild my 455 for about that same amount (assuming the crank is ok, of course) because I’ve done it. A set of pistons, rings, bearings, oil pump, gaskets, etc. plus some light machine work. Granted, this assumes my labor (free) but still…

  27. I can see the sense of taking the bog gashog V-8’s out of a lot of vehicles… most folks hardly ever work an F 150 anyway, so the four point something v-6 serves well. What about the guy who NEEDS the power for towing, working, hauling? I’ve got a rather aged E 350 with the 7.3 diesel. I’ve hauled sixteen thousand pounds behind it for over a thousand miles, freeway speeds, mountain passes, the whole bit. somewhat over 24K total gross weight. The stupid thing got about 14 MPG and didn’t even break a sweat. Put any gas V=8 into the same van, six or seven mpg is more likely, IF it could even DO a trip like that. Back in about ’04 or so, due to gobmunt mandates, they had to redesign the engine.. a 6 liter that got “better mileage” and had “more horsepower and torque”, but dies at about 150K, costing somewhat over 6K to repair… only to break again. Mine has 160K + and is untouched, still does not need oil between changes.
    These idiots running the EPA always forget to factor in ONE DETAIL in their insane mandates.. that is, the environmental “load” their demands place on us. Such as the “load” necessary to put the six litre Powerstroke back on the road every 150K, or the “load” of replacing the break discs because they are too thin to turn when the rig is new… lightened to shave a few ounces off the deadwight of the vehicle so they can put the mandated seventeen airbags, useless antilock brakes, idiot back up video cams (the only guy I know who has one used it to back into his wife’s car door in his own driveway….. about $1200 worth of damage in spite of the “safety device”).

    What we NEED to do is toss the maniacs flexing their power muscles, making law despite their unelected status. The Constitutioin declares that ALL laws binding on the states united MUST originate within the two houses of the legislature. Not some unelected beaurocracy answerable to no one. Time to make them, or their overlords at least, answerable to WE THE PEOPLE.

    • Hi Tionico,

      Excellent – well-said!

      I mentioned to Deuce above the issue of the “net” – what you called the “load.” Exactly so. What is the net “environmental impact” of a vehicle that has a 20 year service life, which requires minimal service – vs. one that’s not economically fixable by 12 or so years old and which during its service life consumes more in the way of parts and so on?

      But, tell it to the EPA….

    • I honestly don’t think that all the “safety” devices make the individual a BETTER driver. I’m more inclined to believe that because they have all of these so-called safety nets that they become sloppy and careless. They no longer have to THINK and become proficient so they rely on crutches as excuses for their incompetence.

    • Absolutely correct! I have a 2004 Ford Explorer with the V-8, 2 wheel drive, trailer towing package. It has 325,000 miles on it. It doesn’t drip, or use oil between changes, gets up in the morning, and still is presentable. Including the cloth interior. I am just now starting to put a few bucks into repairs-$600 into the front end, $300 into a power window motor. Replacing factory parts. Except for consumables, fluids, belts, hoses, tires, pads, battery, PCV valve, spark plugs, it still has its factory parts. I found it kind of shocking that the front wheel bearings are not serviceable. You have to replace the whole hub assembly for like $300 for the part alone. And you need a tool that costs a shop $150 to do the job. I suppose for a job that is needed every 300,000 miles or so, that is acceptable. I know that a Jasper transmission costs $2,600 installed, with a 100,000 mile guarantee; I do not know how many of those 4.6 L V-8 engines FoMoCO built over the past 20 years, but there are bunches of them in junkyards, and I know for a fact that they easily go past 200,000 miles, because I ran 4 company Crown Victoria’s past 150,000, gave them to a teen as their first car, then sold them to Cab drivers with over 200,000 on them. They were glad to get a car that was not a beat out cop car.
      I looked on the internet. It would cost me almost $8 grand to get another one with typical mileage, which is about 1/3 of mine.
      Is $800 3 car payments on a new one? I hardly think so. It was a company car, and when I retired, the fleet manager made a point of telling me that I was to take the car with me. Not “do you want it”, but “here’s the title”. I can put a used engine in here, and a Jasper transmission, and still be under the cost of replacing this one. I can buy a whole lot of $4 gas for the difference between this one’s 18 MPG, VS something taht gets 30 MPG., but has payments on $30 grand.

    • the only guy I know who has [a backup video camera] used it to back into his wife’s car door in his own driveway….. about $1200 worth of damage in spite of the “safety device”

      ROTFLMFAO!!!! Priceless!

  28. Guys, I think the solution to our problems is three-pronged:

    1) End the fiat debt-money system. This is the NUMBER ONE priority; I hope you all agree that the conquering of America, and in fact the world, is a hostile takeover by international banksters. The Federal Reserve is their creature. Without fiat debt-money, the government couldn’t fund its totalitarianism, its wars, and its bribery of the sheeple and gnome-sayin’s. Most importantly, if we renounce the debt–not OUR debt, certainly not MY debt–the banksters lose all power.

    2) Educate everyone; behave like a lunatic. Chat up the girl checking out your groceries, the waiter, your mechanic, your coworkers–even, (gasp), your relatives. Behold the mustard seed; from its tiny eminence springs the mighty mustard tree. And that tree spreads a shitload of other little mustard seeds!

    3) Secession: Work Locally. Forget about national politics–they just don’t matter anymore. They’re too far gone, and DC is broke anyway. Let it collapse of its own weight. Go to your city council meeting and find out what malfeasance is committed in your own backyard–and root the bastards out! They’re scared of local constituents, unlike the phony bastards in Washington. You know where they live, and it takes surprisingly little pressure to bend them.

    • While no. 1 would still be a good idea, I don’t think it would completely solve the problems you list under that heading because that’s not the only set of tools available for them to do those things, just the most convenient. After all, Napoleon was still able to flourish even though the French Revolution had broken that set of tools that time around. So they still have other methods, they just find it easier to use these ones these days so the other ones aren’t as familiar to us. But it would still be worth forcing them back on the other methods, even though it wouldn’t get rid of the problem entirely, because they wouldn’t be able to reach as far so easily; that would be a step in the right direction.

  29. Eric:

    Great article. The V8 is indeed doomed. Especially when NHTSA catches up with IIHS on this latest “save the clovers” scare:–abc-news-topstories.html?bcmt=1344961814936-c2876d25-6be3-4ace-a9a6-37f50e138542&bcmt_s=e#

    I love their “strong box” example. What the idiot political science majors don’t seem to grasp is that a strong box is heavier (and hence – takes more fuel to move) than a weak box, all else equal.

    When are the upper brass at the OEMs (at least the ones not directly in bed with uncle sugar) going to tell NHTSA and the EPA to pound sand? Are they waiting until the next time they’re dead broke to tell their masters that drastically more expensive cars are NOT what their customers actually want?

    Isn’t $30,000 for the average new car expensive enough?

    Oh – I forgot – can’t put a price on safety.

    • Hi Blake. I think the key to answering your first question is contained in the parenthetical: “(at least the ones not directly in bed with uncle sugar)”. That’s an extinct species, I’m afraid.

      One can argue endlessly over whether big business took control of government, or government took control of big business. I tend to think it’s the latter, since the government is the party with the guns, but the result is the same either way. We get screwed, and we can’t get relief from some bright entrepreneur because the regulatory environment creates an effective barrier to new entrants into the industry.

    • We don’t need another hero.

      The V8 interceptor is impressive.

      I do not think I would ever get a V8, but a V8 does meet the needs of some people.

    • exactly what i was thinking, but maybe with the voice of the mechanic in the garage working on it in the beginning of the movie, (great pic even though Road Warrior was a better movie than Mad Max)

      • I was looking for the mechanic in the dark MFP garage…. but couldn’t find a pic of that on the net in a reasonable time.

  30. I’m a musician at heart, much more so than a mechanic. So I think in terms of music and musical gear. The V8 reminds me of 15 inch woofers. You can get great sound out of smaller speakers, but honestly nothing is quite like the 15’s. Four twelves are loud. But still not like 15 inch speakers with massive magnets.

    Don’t even get me started on the difference between old tube amps and the new “modeling” amps.

    • The bureaucrats and bean counters have no feeling for technology or perhaps no feeling at all thus they cannot tell the difference. Because they cannot tell the difference they project that on to everyone else. What’s good for them is good for all.

      They do not create so they cannot feel creation.

      • What was that you said, “comrade”?! I was too busy fixing, er…paying, for a new engine on my Mandated-Motors slave shuttle to catch that.

    • With a v8 there is only 1/4 turn between power strokes, a new power stroke is starting before the old one is finished, essentially full time continuous torque. No amount of balance and finesse will make a 4 into an 8.

    • I dunno, Brad! I used to DJ with some Carver Magnetic Field amps; they were tuned to sound like a tube amp, and they really hold their own even against a $7,000 McIntosh amp.

      I hear you on the 15’s. Trouble is, when you horn-load 15’s they tend to drive the coil through the cone under the stress of being driven by a Carver.

      I switched to DAS 18 inch woofers….made by a company in Spain. For some reason the Spanish seems to have woofers in their blood; magnets that would make an MRI machine jealous. Super-efficient–104 db/W/@1m. That’s “torque”! 🙂

  31. It is tempting to consider buying a new, big V-8 Mustang, or Camaro or Challenger. Awesome engines. Clearly, the last of their kind, except in very high priced vehicles. High collectable value. Not that hungry. Not extremely impractical for daily transportation. And major fun to drive.

  32. Hi Eric, great article, as are many others I’ve read on your site since discovering it a month or so ago. My only comment is there is always the possibility of technology bridging the gap on this, but like you, I’m not sanguine about that prospect. Some other articles that I’ve read (and people I’ve met) seem to indicate that American Culture is shifting away from enjoyment of the open road to some extent. This would mean the mighty V-8 would not be missed by many, but probably sorely missed by some.

    That said, three of my five vehicles are V-8s (well five if you count the moped.) I intend to pamper them and will enjoy watching their value appreciate.

    • Thanks, Jeff!

      I, too, will hang onto my V-8.

      Each engine type has its merits – and there’s nothing like a big V-8 for making huge torque with a very simple, understressed layout.

      Of course, I am also a fan of DOHC fours for high revving hp.

      And then there are two strokes… triples, especially!


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