The Turbo Tax

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You’ve heard the saying, your mileage may vary?

Well, there’s a new variable you ought to take into account when you go shopping for a new car. You might call it the Turbo Tax. It’s paid two ways – up front and down the road.

And it’s becoming harder to avoid either tax, because about a third of all new cars on the market come standard with a turbocharged engine. Within the next few years, it will be tough to buy any new car without a turbocharged engine.

But what is a turbo? Why are turbos being put under the hoods of so many new cars?

And why is it . . . taxing?

A turbo is a compressor. It pressurizes the incoming air that would – ordinarily – be sucked into the engine’s cylinders very much in the same manner that we draw in a breath. Pressurized air is forced into the engine’s cylinders; this increases cylinder pressure and creates a more powerful explosion when the spark plug fires.

So, it’s basically a power-enhancer.

But it’s also become a displacement replacer.

Turbos were rare – even exotic – as recently as a decade ago. They were added to already powerful engines in high-performance cars to make them deliver even higher-performance. This makes perfect sense when the object is to go faster – and paying extra is understood to be the price of admission. People who buy high-performance cars are not buying them for reasons of economy.

But now turbos are being used for exactly that reason.

Well, so we’re told.

Reality tells another story.

Turbos can now be found under the hoods of economy cars and family cars and also crossover SUVs – none of them performance vehicles, at least not primarily.

And the main reason for this is that it’s becoming hard to put engines larger than very small fours in most new cars. Not physically hard. But politically, very hard.

Turbos are bolted to the small fours to make up for the smallness of these engines. To make them capable of producing the power and delivering performance comparable to that produced by the larger (six cylinder) engines they replaced.

But why not just keep the larger engine, in that case?

Well, it would make sense. But this isn’t about making sense. It is about making the government happy – while also keeping customers happy.

The government is pressuring the car industry to build cars that use less and less gas – but market pressure won’t abide underpowered cars.

Hence turbocharged cars.

The government-downsized engines have the potential to use less gas – when the turbo isn’t boosting them. This helps the car companies meet the government’s fuel efficiency mandates – or at least, helps them avoid the government’s fines for not meeting them.

And when the turbo is boosting, it makes buyers – who expect their car to accelerate when they press on the accelerator pedal – not miss the larger engines which made equivalent power without resorting to turbo-boosting.

But it’s not without cost – the Turbo Tax.

It’s a layered – and hidden tax.

You pay more for the turbo-engined car, to begin with. Because in addition to buying the engine, you’re also buying the turbo and all the turbo-related parts, usually including an intercooler (basically, a radiator for the turbo) and always including a specialized exhaust system – because the turbo’s boost is produced by exhaust gas pressure. There’s no getting around the extra parts – which costs extra money.

If you compare the sticker price of a given car model that was available a year or two ago without a turbocharged engine with what the same car costs today with a turbocharged engine, you’ll discover the sticker price has increased significantly.

Here’s an example:

The current/2019 VW Jetta is basically the same car as the 2015 Jetta, except for the fact that the new one comes standard with a 1.4 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine while the 2015 came standard with a larger 2.0 liter engine without a turbo.

The base price of the 2015 Jetta was $16,215. The current Jetta  stickers for $18,545. Some of the difference in price can be discounted as inflation; that $16,215 in 2015 dollars is actually $17,514 in today’s dollars. But that still leaves a balance due – payable by you – of $1,031 for the turbocharged “upgrade.”

But the new engine gets better mileage, yes? Certainly. Just not much better: 25 city, 34 highway for the ’15 Jetta’s 2.0 engine vs. 30 city, 39 highway for the new Jetta’s 1.4 turbo engine.

You do get more power – 147 hp for the new one vs. 115 for the no-turbo 2.0 engine in the 2015. But you’re not getting it for free – and the mileage gain is offset (in terms of economy) by the extra grand-plus you had to pay up front for the car.

And then there’s the hidden tax.

Most of these turbo’d small-engined cars at least “recommend” that premium fuel be used. You don’t have to use it, in the sense that you won’t hurt the engine if you use regular. But if you don’t use premium, the stated best-case mileage (and power/performance) will be less than advertised. The reason is simple.

Or rather, mechanical.

Increased cylinder pressure requires higher-octane fuel, which is more resistant to spontaneous combustion from heat and pressure than lower-octane gas. Use of lower-octane fuel has to be dealt with by reducing cylinder pressure (less boost) to avoid spontaneous combustion – premature ignition – which in the old days resulted in engine knock and – if you kept at it – a damaged engine.

Today’s cars turbo’d cars can control cylinder pressure electronically – by dumping open the wastegate – to bleed off boost .

This doesn’t don’t damage the engine; you just get a less fuel-efficient and powerful engine.

The ECU – the brain box that runs the show – takes notice of the lower octane fuel, dials back the boost, ignition timing and so on to prevent spontaneous combustion and engine knock. But you pay the tax in the form of not-quite-what-was-advertised  mileage and reduced power/performance.

Or, you can pay the extra 40 cents or so per gallon at the pump, for the premium fuel.

Either way, you’ll pay.

. . .

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    • Hi Johnny,

      They have been made – as long ago as the ’50s – the problem (as with EVs) is expense and complexity greater than regular gas-engined cars.

      I always return to the question: Why?

      Why the Don Quixote-esque tilting at “alternative” windmills? Isn’t progress supposed to be easier/cheaper/faster?

      I see no “alternative” that achieves those things.

  1. There was no real world difference in fuel consumption between my (company rig) f150 with a 4.7 naturally aspirated v8 and my present 2.7 turbocharged v6 f150. I drive the small motor truck harder and get about .5 miles per gallon less. ( The v8 was more responsive and pleasant at low speeds.)

  2. The only thing worse than a tiny displacement gas motor with a turbo in a truck or heavy car is a tiny displacement gas motor without a turbo.

    • Hi Anonymous,


      What we’re dealing with here is the market mutation created by government. If the fuel economy fatwas did not exist, the car industry would offer engines suitable for the vehicle. Economy cars would probably have naturally aspirated fours around 2.5 liters in size. Family cars would have V6s. Large sedans would have V8s.

      No one would put a four in a half-ton truck.

  3. I have been pondering about why car companies today still prefer turbos vs deactivating cylinder technology. (Is the nightmare of the “burning” Caddies in the 90s with similar tech in in its infancy still haunting them?) They could have the same V6 or boxer 6 in all their lineup and activate/deactivate between 3-6 cylinders based on demand. This can be done with purely mechanical components, minimal extra parts, no need to electronics etc. Way cheaper than turbo. Just my 2 cents.

    • Hi I Hate Turbos Too,

      My bet would be that the turbo engine serves the dual purpose of achieving CAFE compliance (passing government tests) and maintaining the power/performance expected by the buyer. With the first thing being the most important thing.

  4. I find it amusing that Eric rants about turbo gas engines to no end, while he gives a glaring pass to turbo Diesel engines.

    Until the 80s, when virtually all Diesel engines were normally aspirated, they were the exclusive stuff of taxi drivers or traveling salesmen. Nobody else would want to drive such slouches. When Mercedes launched its first turbo Diesel sedan, making it a viable option for the typical driver, it changed automotive history.

    The issues with turbo Diesel were all the same: mileage was not always good, the extra hardware was not cheap, reliability suffered. Yet, no Diesel engine is devoid of a turbo machine nowadays. And Eric loves them!

    Indeed, turbos are being added to gas engines nowadays mostly because of state interference. But it is a good response by engineers who still design engines to deliver gusto! And they do so while being cheaper, lighter and more torquey than a larger normally aspirated engine, which any car enthusiast can appreciate.

    I consider turbo gas engines an achievement by brilliant engineers a finger to state bureaucrats. I raise my finger with them!

    • Hi Augustine,

      Gas and diesel engines… apples and oranges. Different criteria.

      I love turbo-diesels because they are capable of much higher mileage than a gas turbos (which, in the context of this discussion) are being produced to make up for lost power resulting from lost displacement, not chiefly to deliver mileage. And in real world driving, the gas turbo uses about the same fuel as the larger, naturally aspirated engine it replaced. The diesel often delivers higher mileage in real world driving. For example, the now-verboten VW TDI diesel-powered Jetta was capable of 50-plus MPG. Nothing comes close except a hybrid. And the diesel achieved that excellent mileage while also delivering excellent power, especially in the low and mid-range.

      I agree with you that the gas turbos have maintained the power which would otherwise have gone away due to engine downsizing. But – as per my article – this has come at a cost.

      • I’m not talking about the virtues of Diesel over gas. I’m pointing out that the costs of turbocharching a Diesel engine are the same as turbocharging a gas engine, and so are the benefits.

        We like the results of turbocharging Diesel engines. For the same reasons, I like the results of turbocharging gas engines, even if the motivation was state interference.

        After all, how else to peacefully deal with an occupying force like governments?

        • Hi Augustine,

          Yes, but the diesel’s costs are made up for by the much superior fuel efficiency and longevity. Gas turbos don’t offer much mileage advantage and their long-haul durability hasn’t been great – to date. It may be that the current generation of gas turbos last as long and run as reliably as non-turbo gas engines. But it’s doubtful they’ll be as long lived as diesels!

          • You are comparing the much better mileage of turbo Diesel over turbo gas.

            However, a turbo Diesel does not always have a better mileage or reliability than a normally aspirated Diesel, much like the case of a turbo gas relative to a normally aspirated gas.

            Again, the price paid for turbo charging a Diesel is the same as turbo charging a gas engine. We agree on loving the former and I argue that we can love the latter too.

            • Hi Augustine,

              I’ve been test-driving new cars every week for pushing 30 years. I’ve driven thousands of new cars. I think have some standing to talk about how turbo-diesel engines and gas turbo engines perform in real-world driving.

              Check the mileage delivered by a late-model TDI VW such as a 2015 Jetta or Benz E Class and compare with a not-turbo’d diesel from the ’70s or early ’80s. The new turbo-diesel delivers at least as good and often better mileage.

              The diesel’s higher purchase price is compensated for by the fuel economy savings and longevity of the engine.

              Gas turbos – the current ones being used in non-performance cars – are fundamentally Band Aids. They are used to make up for the loss of engine displacement and power. And – key point – they cost more than the larger engines they replace, but don’t provide a significant gain in mileage or power/performance.

              Put another way, there’s no real gain.

              With turbo-diesels, there is.

              • You say that turbo charged gas engines but “don’t provide a significant gain in mileage or power/performance”. But at the same time you also said that they are “used to make up for the loss of power”. In your own words, there certainly is a real gain in power.

                But let’s compare the Mercedes 300D against the 300TD from the 80s: 5.4l/100km or 43 MPG around town against 6.2l/100km or 37 MPG (v. and The mileage of the turbo charged Diesel was 15% worse than the normally aspirated Diesel. As I said, Diesel or gas, turbo charging is not always better for mileage.

                The bottom line is that there is no difference is the results and in the trade offs in turbo charging Diesel or gas.

                • Getting the same amount of power from half the cylinders is no difference?
                  I’ll have to guess that you have never driven a naturally aspirated large truck.

                • Augustine,

                  Either your reading comprehension is poor or my explanatory powers are. Let me try . .. again.

                  The turbo fours we are discussing make about the same power as the larger non-turbo engines they replace; they are not (in general) significantly more powerful. The turbos are not added to bump up the power of an already powerful engine (as turbos were generally used for in the past) but rather to make back the power lost by engine downsizing.

                  You then make a comparison I didn’t make between an ’80s-era turbodiesel and a non-turbo diesel from the same era. I pointed out that modern turbo diesels are as or more fuel efficient than non turbo-diesels from the past. For example, a late-model E-Class BlueTec is capable of averaging 40 MPG. Better than the ’80s-era 300D.

                  You write:

                  “The bottom line is that there is no difference is the results and in the trade offs in turbo charging Diesel or gas”..

                  Nonsense. I have already explained why… several times. The turbo-diesel gives much higher mileage and longevity, which makes up for its higher purchase price; the gas-turbo engine (in this context, as per the article) only makes up for the smaller engine’s otherwise inadequate power and gives (at best) a slight mileage improvement… for higher cost, both to buy and to own.

                  You either can’t read – or can’t understand. My finger hovers over the Clover button.

                • Your analisis of the Mercedes cars is WAY out of line with reality. NO ida where those numbers come from. Certainly not real world figures.

                  I’ve owned, driven, repaired, restored nearly every model of Mercedes from about 1957 into the mid02000’s. Everything I’ve done to them except rear differentials, and that’s only because in all those years I’ve never known one to fail.
                  My old 1959 190 D returned about 42 mpg in steady speed highway driving at about 70 mph. No hill or pasing power anywhere. In town best was about 30 mpg. That sort of fuel sipping went away long ago.

                  You apparenty do not understand the model designations in the late 1970’s and into the mid-1980’s. Allow me to correct, if you will. Then YOU will also understand.

                  The first 300D was in the new 115 body, which was nothing but the older 114 body tweaked to make Uncle Stupid happy enough to allow them into the North American market. The 114 only offered the four cylinder 240D engine, naturally aspirated (for NA market). No frills.. AC, ps, etc. The engine bay was slightly stretched for the 300 D in the 115 body, because that engine was simply the venrable perfected 240D with one more hole added up front. The 115 brought air conditioining, four wheel disc brakes, power steering, electric windows, central locking, more luxurious interior. That engine was naturaly aspirated. That model ran only 1975 and 6. I owned one, put well over 100K on it on top of the 300K or so it had when I got it. Best mileage was around 22 in town, 25 steady cruise at 75 mph on highway.
                  In 1977 the new 123 body came out, same engine but with minor tweaks.. mainly oil filer can relocated due to different steering configuration. ALL 300 D models in both bodies offered ONLY the four speed automatic trans for NA. market. The 123 for 77 through 79 came ONLY naturally aspirated, Performance and efuel consuption almost ideltical to the 115 body cars.

                  In 1980 ALL 300D cars now came with the turbo, no option. These lasted through 1985 in the five cylinder form. Along with the turby came other changes: higher geared final drive, slowing the engine dosn significantly, possible becuase of the added boost from the hairdryer. The new 722 trans, with much better load and shift management, and wider gear range, and a revised low stall torque convertor (it was no longer necessary to spool up the engine on takeoff because of the low end turbo boost now availble) I have owned, and now still own, several cars in thse model ranges, turbo and non. NONE of the 1980’s 300 D were available non-turbo. ALL had the improved 722 gearbox. My personal experience with this range of cars: naturally aspirated 300 D cars in both the 115 and 123 body would return no more than 25 mpg in highway driving, and stop and go town it dropoped to 22. The 1980 and onward 300 D with five cylinder engines in the 123 body could get up to 30 mpg highway, down closer to 25 town.

                  There ware the parallel cars, the S models, starting with the 116 body in 1977, fitting the new 722 gearbox and the turbo version engine. These were larger cars, and thus heavier. They would get high 20’s highway, mod to low 20’s town. In 1980 the body was comletely changed, the new 126 body., Despite its larger size, other changes and slleeker body shape (I still consider them one of the all time prettiest cars every built, and own’have owned these as well). accompnied by higher final drive gearing allowed these cars to return 30 mpg highway, about 25 mpg town.

                  These figures are ALL contingent upon the individual car’s being put in proper tune… when I get a “new” old one I always take a few hours and do a complete mainta=enance on it.. set valve lash, pump timing, have the injectors out for pop pressure test and spray pattern analysis. Once thise operatins are seen to, the engines are once more in factory tune, and will perform. Some are so strong they will chirp the tyre upon pedal down takeoff, and chirp them again on shift into second. Pretty impressive for a car as heavy as these are.

                  These observations are MY own personal ones, having owned and driven these cars for probably half a million or more miles in total.

                  But NONE of these mechaincially injected cars can ever returh the fuel economy of the later iterations of that same five cyinder engine, as found in the Sprinter vans, where the engines were changed over to a common rail system electronically controlled, and running at aobut 300o psi to the injectors. (the earlier piston pump fed injection systems run at 1850 psi naturally aspirated, and 1950 turbocharged) But Ubcle Stupid won’t let them pfit that engine to any passenger car, only the light duty trucks. If they would I’ve no doubt the cars, such as the 126 body SD, could return as high as 35 to 40 mpg, geared lower to slow down the engine.

                  One more correction.. you mention the “300 TD”. In that positon, immediately following the model number 300, the letter “T” designates “touring”< in other words, the station wagon. Which I've also owned. That "T" designatioin ahs been used since the mid-1960's to designate the station wagon variant back when the lowly 200 D was on. The "T" was nevere used, and still is not, to designate a trubocharger. That designation is the letter "K", for "kompressor" and is seen on more and more of their lineup these days, as the disease detailed in this piece spreads.
                  SO.. 43 mpg in a 1980s 300 diesel car of ANY body? Never will you find it. Anything above 30 is someone's advertising copy, or a VW style test bester meme. Reality does NOT include wch real workd numbers.

                  The turbo on Mercedes diesles did indeed bring increased fuel miileage along with a significant increase in power. They, of all manufacturers, probably played the Turbo game better then anyone else. Those cars I consider the best, most comfortable, reliable, long term economical, road cars I've eer owned.. and I've owned probably well over two hundred over my five decades of driving and repairing and half a million or more miles on Mercedes diesels.
                  One trick I've played to save money as I run these cars: I have fitted a 500 series Racor fuel filter, as found on highway trucks, to the draw side of the fuel system. Now I can thrown almost anypetroleum product into the tank. I first screen to get the big chunks out, and pour in between five and ten percent waste oil, transmission fluid, spend cleaning solvent, degraded gasoline toat won't even run ih the lawnmower….. it blends down, is first centrifuged to drop water and large particulate out, then filtered down to 2 microns and fed into the engine's final stock filter. I not only "earn" back the price of foel per gallon by burning the waste oils, it also helps replace the lost lubrication from the stupid sulfur games Uncle Stupid plays with us.

    • Turbo has more parts. Don’t diesels run at lower rpm’s? Ive heard turbos require cool down or when you turn them off they boil / burn the oil in the bearings etc… Hyundai apparently has the 10 year 100000 on their eco turbo so, they must be just as durable as the non-turbo.

      • Modern Diesel engines have a red line of 5000 RPM, which is not too far from the typical 6000 RPM of gas engines. And a turbo machine for a gas engine is the same as for a Diesel engine.

        It used to be that the turbo continued to spin after the engine was turned off, when there was no more oil pressure to keep its bearings lubed, leading to premature failure, unless the engine would be left idling for a few seconds before turning it off. Nowadays the bearings are better, but I’m not sure that this issue has been completely solved, for in Europe seized turbos are not uncommon in Diesel engines.

        • Hi Augustine,

          Modern turbo-diesels do have higher redlines – and so do modern gas engines! Many have redlines closer to 7,000 RPM!

          Many (probably most) new turbo-powered engines continue to circulate oil after shutdown to avoid the cookout!

        • of COURSE they would.. they were designed from the git go to turn at much slower RPM, thus greatly redicing friction. Most large truck engines (along with marine and railroad engines( turn at a max of maybe 1650, and peak power at around 1100. My old Cummins 250 NH, naturally aspirated, ran between 1650 and 2160. Outside that, it was almost as good as not running. Made for LOTS of shifting it had twin four speed crash boxes.. you’ve never driven a big rig until you’ve driven a twin stick) These have been devloped into very economical and pwoerful engines, some getting twice the mileage of my ancient old KW. If you build it strong and turn it slow, you can get more power per litre of fuel.

          However, those engines aren’t practical for cars, too heavy, to narrow a power band reauiring lots of gearing games. Of course, if Uncle Stupid wouldlet them, someone would come up with a slow-turning high torque diesel and marry it to a ten speed automatic that would blow the doors off any recent diesel powered machine…. and hold together for two million miles. Back when I was driving I met a guy driving a 1958 Mack COE…. it still looked brand new. His Dad had bought it new, and at 4 million miles they had to change the clutch, so they did an inframe at the same time. He was coming uo on its SECOND four million mile mark, and they were toying with the idea of doing the same thing again.. new clutch and inframe…. at EIGHT million. Other than brake blocks, u-joints, water pumps, generator, a few belts and hoses, the truck had run flawlesly every day for eight million miles. Not the fastest rig out there, but it brought home the bacon by the tonne, and they’d owned it outright since it turned 100L miles….

  5. Another aspect of the turbo tax but most turbocharged cars here in Europe tend to need require synthetic oil, which is also a fair bit more expensive than the normal stuff out here (not sure if its also the case in the US).

  6. I’m confused. Two days ago I bought a new Hyundai Elantra – and I was sad that it didn’t have the turbo ‘eco’ engine. Because, in the Eric Peters review of the elantra – it sure made me think the ‘eco’ was the engine to have.

  7. Way I see it, might be in the market soon and while I prefer NA, only exception is a Golf R, though more for the tuneability of the 2.0t rather than fuel economy, and of course, with a Standard to boot

    If you buy a turbocharged engine expecting great fuel economy, then as the meme goes, I got bad news for you…

    If you buy it so you can add performance parts, a tune and wanna make it a beast, then that’s a different story

  8. Great article Eric, I too wonder about the future as more and more performance parts are becoming standard equipment. None of that stuff is going to be cheap on either end and maintenance is going to become even more difficult as repair techs basically now have to have a degree in computer science or electrical engineering to go along with their mechanical training. Of course all of these performance parts will require the proprietary tools & software to do any service to them which dials up the cost even further. The real stinger is how the emissions test now has become the de facto vehicle inspection and with more computer controlled and performance parts the more likely the vehicle will throw a code which now has to be addressed in order to pass emissions regardless of whether the code is emissions related or not.

  9. re this: “But that still leaves a balance due – payable by you – of $1,031 for the turbocharged “upgrade.” ”

    So, to avoid a $250 CAFE tax (for the 5 MPG difference versus the non-turbo 2.0), they’ve stuffed in $1,000 in extra parts?

    Wouldn’t it be wiser to make the old 2.0 engine the standard engine, with a $1,000 lower base price and a sticker line item of $250 for “CAFE MPG tax penalty”, for a total savings of $750, until such time that the CAFE taxes become more prohibitive?

    Not getting WTF the execs are thinking.

    • I have to look up the CAFE penalty but that sounds surprisingly low compared to memory. Or maybe it was because my memory was when dollars were worth more. In any case domestic automakers have avoided breaking CAFE since the beginning. BMW and some other imports do pay CAFE fines. But the trouble is their home countries have their own taxes and penalties regarding fuel economy now.

  10. Another failing of turbo charging: turbo-lag. Not buying anything turbocharged. All my vehicles are 2012s, V6s – no auto stop/start, direct injection, low power, 10-speed auto transmissions, or annoying “nannies”.

    • You know, modern turbos have hardly any lag. I’m driving my first turbo car right now, albeit a performance oriented one, and the turbo lag in power band is almost nonexistent. This is in a Ford Focus RS, which has a manual transmission, so I can make sure to be in the power band when I want it.

      I’m not disputing Eric’s article, there is no replacement for displacement.

  11. And why my wife’s MB E350 (N-A V6) will not be replaced with their new E300 (4cy turbo). She is probably going to get a Grand Cherokee. Why? Because it has one of the last older-school V8’s on the market, still avail. as an option. She decided this after driving my 300 V8, and she loved it enough to ‘trade up’ to a real V8. Thank God FCA has not pulled the plug on their 5.7 and 6.4 engines, YET.
    And my 300 just got 25mpg on a 4 hour trip. Why would I want/need more than that? I don’t care about mpg. There wouldn’t be much better than the current 300 with my old Pontiac GTO Judge 400 Ram Air III under the hood. Wow.
    Eric, you should do a write up on the Grand Cherokee with the V8, to piss off the bureaucrats.

  12. Turbo charging cars wouldn’t be bad but they lower the displacement down to the point that the increased performance is marginally better than the N/A engine. seriously a 1.4 liter in a 3000lb car! That used to be regulated to geo metros ir 1600lb econo boxes. My next performance car might be a kit car and use a carburetor. Build want you want maybe your last chance at freedom.

    • Hi Mooeing!

      Indy cars have had very small – and highly turbo’d – engines . . . but they’re race cars… which kind of makes my point. Turbos are great as performance enhancers but as displacement replacers, there are too many trade-offs for it to make much sense except as a way to deal with government ukase…

          • if it holds together for that first five hundred miles, only one race. Wjich is all that matters. Those guys are backed with cubic bux, so they’ve got a new mill in the trailer. Takes about twenty minutes to swap one out.

    • Anyone else here remember the early (real) Mini sedans of the eary to mid 1960’s? The base model brought a tiny 850cc single carburetter four cylinder engine, transverse mounted above a transaxle, front wheel drive, four speed manual. Driven foot to the wood, it would go reasonably well, and return 55 mpg on long freeway trips. Other engine variants provided varying levels of power, all the way up to the available from showroom 1275 Cooper S, in Stage Three tune, developing 110 horsepower at 7500 RPM, naturally aspirated. It could out-drag most big V 8 muscle cars of its day, up to about 100 mpgh. Driven tp its limit, they would return about 35 to 40 mpg in fuel economy and a delight that was nearly illegal…. BUT the same car driven at a steacy 70 mph on the interstates would STILL return 55 mpg on road trips. Those who fitted the Hewland or ZF five speed crash boxes with an overdrive fifth gear would return better economy at steady cruise because the engine turned slower. Other then the engine itself, same design just bigger “holes”, the remainder of the car was unchanged. Yes, brakes were marginal, but with an engine in such a high state of tune, engine braking was rather effective. In the twisties, those cars were best steered with one’s right foot anyway, so who needed brakes?

  13. The people running this long con are so many moves ahead of their victims that all we can do is step aside and avoid the trap they are stampeding in to. The brainwashed actually want electric, autonomous dream machines, vaccines for everything, pharmaceuticals for the rest, prison for drug sellers without licenses, surveillance to make Orwell’s head spin. They want gun control (otherwise the niggers will have them you see…)

    Average Joe still believes in the system working (it does, just not for him) and that he is free (except to travel without papers or a seat belt) and that he has a right to carry a weapon (if he gets a permit from his master).

    The late Harry Browne seems more and more like a true visionary. “How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World” is well worth absorbing. The only freedom we have is to go around the system. When they make a law, blithely ignore it if the price is low, or find a way to circumvent it. And anything that becomes a popular workaround will draw the attention of the slavemasters.

    A ticket for exercising your right to drive without a seat belt is about 100 bucks. So what? Go to court, waste their time, and then don’t pay it for as long as you can. Preferably forever, but I have found they will sic the IRS on you eventually. Nonetheless, it is good for your soul to fight and make sure it isn’t profitable and the cops start to dread the contempt they are met with.

    Freedom is what you take. Eventually they will ramp up the murders of us. Can’t worry about that, we all die sometime. Hopefully when my time comes I will be ready to make them pay something. Hopefully by my teaching and my example my kids will keep the flame. There are going to be martyrs for freedom.

    • Getting around the law == a “loophole.” The language is so manipulated by the people in charge it is ridiculous. This year’s ballot has several amendments that will close several loopholes because of unfairness.

  14. Eric and a lot of regulars here already know how this crap started to begin with, but if you have When the American public bought into the bullshit that an emissions programming error was crime, and that non-elected Govt. Bureaus even have the authority to create Legislation of ANY kind, much less enforce it, the public lost that battle. You want to lose another one?

  15. On top of the cost of the additional components, the engine itself must be made stronger to withstand the additional pressures; the block of my old 300ZX Twin Turbo was not the same as the non-turbo, even for the mild pressures of the 90s.

    • Hi Mike,

      Yup. This increased specialization and complexity/cost makes sense in a specialized application – such as a high performance car. But does it make sense in a grocery getter?

      I don’t see it…

      I think a family sedan is much more appropriately powered by a 3 liter V6 than a 1.4 liter turbo’d four. The V6 can make the same power in a less tressed, less expensive and more long-term reliable package, at the cost of perhaps 3-5 MPG vs. the turbo four, that cost negated by the turbo’s higher cost and also by the fact that the turbo’s advertised MPGs are often very misleading.

      • Not to mention the inevitability of paying the Piper at about 100K miles on the rig to replace that worn out turbo…. which unit, remanufactured to lower standards than the original, will cost about a thousand bucks still sitting in its shipping carton. Add close to another half grand to remove it from its carton and fit it to the engine, which, despite its diminishing physical size, is so bacly crammed in to that engine bay it will be a monumental task to exchange the parts. Meanwhile, the eaflier model with the more suitably sized naturally aspirated engine will jog along for twice that service life never needing to replace the hairdryier it never had.

        • Morning, T!

          One thing I ought to have mentioned in the article but didn’t is the quantity of boost being fed to these latter-day turbocharged engines. It’s typically as much as 21 pounds. That is a lot of boost for a grocery getter/family car… but it’s necessary, to get a 2.0 liter engine to make the same or equivalent power as a 3.5 liter V6.

          • Remember back when two liters was all yu needed, naturally aspirated, for even a VERY fast road car? I rememver when the legendary Porsche two litre boxer six came out in the 911, and that engine fitted to the garden variety Porsche 911 S in that state of tune was a slug compared to the SAME ENGINE built to stage five, still on carburetters and naturally aspirated, as fitted to the Carreroa 906 and the 911 Cararra race version. I watched those cars (the 906 C and the 911 SC) outaccelerate, out stop, out corner the big guys (427 Cobras, Shelby GT 350’s, Corvette 327’s, Mariah 427,s Ford GT 40.. on the track. Roomie of mine had a race prepared 911T he drove on the street (with street legal tyres). He took me for a demo ride one time. Engine had 125K on it when he bought the car, used. Replaced the cams (to factory Cararra specs) and chains, swapped out the stock SOlex downdraft tripple choke carms for the larger Carrara Webers, open exhaust with swappable muffler and megaphone, new clutch and skimmed flywheel… and put the car on the track. On the road it was formidable. Had I not known him well, and known he was a trained race driver, and did NOT want to die, I’d have been certain I was about to as he pulled out to pass a line of six cars on a short straigt stretch with a blind right hand slow to 25 turn rapidly approaching. He dove into that 25 mph turn at well above 90 mph, perfect line, at about 8500, foot to the wood, tyres never even whispered. Glad he had the right side seat he did.. full o race seat with five point harness. No way could I have remained in that seat otherwise.

            WHO NEeDS more than two litres, IF properly developed?

            WHen the Datsun 510 replaced the L 16 with th L 20 the tuners thought they’d died and gone to heaven. Volvo’s B 20 (overbored from the B 18) did just fine in the 122S, 123 GT, 142 series. Cruise at 85 mph all day long returning 42 mpg on cheap regular. And last a quarter million miles into the bargain.

  16. “But you pay the tax in the form of not-quite-what-was-advertised mileage…”

    In other words, you won’t get nearly the mileage that is stated on the window sticker.

    Isn’t this really the same thing that they busted VW for “cheating”. These new 4-bangers with turbo WON’T meet the tested results, in this case, by a long shot. Car makers are “in compliance” because the cars will pass the CAFE test. In real world driving (which is the real world, not the make believe fairy land of GovCo) the results are far different. Why aren’t these companies being hounded into penury? Because, as you say Eric, it’s not about safety, the environment or running out of oil, it’s about Control. It’s just another way to “nudge” us Cass Sunstein style, out of our cars and and on to bicycles and GovCo controlled transportation options which is worse than Red Pill or Blue Pill.

    • Hi Mark,

      Yes – that’s the synopsis. It took me a long time to really come to grips with it. But it’s now so obvious to me it sometimes paralyzes my ability to attempt to write about it. I feel like Winston in 1984 – dealing with the lunatic enthusiasm of O’Brien, who believes that 2 + 2 does equal 5 if the Party says it does.

    • Teaching to the test, just like everhing else. Sure, they could build better, higher quality products, but as long as everyone just buys the minimum Uncle approved model, why bother?

      No automobile left behind!

    • Bicycles are not going to be part of the long term plan. Bicycles are far too free to be allowed. They may be slow compared to automobiles and one has to be fit to go far in reasonable time but they are the freest land vehicle ever devised. They are practically impossible for government to control other than to ban them outright.

      Bicycling politics consists primarily of groups of anti-motoring people that are funded by the usual suspects. The old guard of vehicular bicyclists has been pushed out in favor of these people who are scared to ride as traffic and demand reserved space to hurt what they hate, motoring.

      If my cars were taken away or rendered unusable in a couple months I would be fit enough to cover a 50 mile radius on bicycle traveling completely anonymously without tracking. These control freaks wouldn’t tolerate that and would come up with some pretense, say risk of injury and thus cost to government to get the control and an eventual ban.

      • You are spot on with this analisis of cycling.

        I used to be a member of the Seattle area Cascade Bicycle Club… but they have become a raging PAC hell bent upon foising all manner of bothersome projects upon the Seattle area, at insane cost to the locals. In my town there was one sort of busy main artery that was crossed by an old railroad trestle. The path was turned into a bike path. When the trestle became unstable, it needed to be removed for safety. Couldn’t have it collapsing onto the roadawy below… fair enough. There was a traffic light one block to the east of the old trestle, and so cyclists would detour the block to cross, then back to the trail. The bikology screamers forced the government to spend well over a million to build a new fancy overhead. Half a mile east a different bike path, following the freeway, had ti end because of another street. Again, a signal one block away gave a great alternate to crossing at grade. City spent $2.2Mn to build.. a TUNNEL under the four lane arterial.

        As to being free and untrackable on a bike, yes. Definitely. Give me a sort day and I can be a hundred miles away and no one knows where I went or how I got there. Only risk is that I carry my mobil phone, which, of course, provides convenient tracking to any gummit hooh hahs with a “need to know”. One simple solution for that, however, would be to put it into avion mode, and pop it into a farraday cage box. That fits into one of the jersey pockets across the back of my jersey, along with walled and handgun in the other two. Bring cash for minor purchases, you can cover some long distances with NO trace or track. I’ve even thought, 1984-wise, one could bring along two very different coloured jerseys and stop to change them after some distance. If anyone IS watching out for the guy in blue, he’s not there, and so no one notices the same guy in yellow, then later on green.

        • Your phone is always on and under the control of the network.
          When you push the off button, it only turns off the ringer, buttons and screen.
          Aluminum foil is cheaper and more efficient than any farraday (sic) cage.

          • news flash: a tin foil hat for your mobil ohone IS< by defintion, a "farraday cage". which is ANY enclosure made of any metal that completely surrounds the target device. Tim foil IS one of the easy ways of doing that.

        • Your bridge story reminds me of a local one. The chicago lake front trail used to have several areas of questionable safety. Especially for those of us who rode the trail fast back in the 90s and before. From the 00s on the city started rerouting and rebuilding the trail to eliminate these areas left. The last one left was the bridge crossing the mouth of the Chicago river. It’s a double decker drawbridge built in the 1930s. The bike trail used the lower deck east sidewalk.

          Sidewalk riding is dangerous and this causes problems at two intersections. The city came up with this hugely expensive ‘fly over’ solution which essentially gives the trail it’s own 60 million dollar bridge. What was the anti-motoring crowd’s “solution”? Take the east most traffic lane of the bridge’s lower deck and turn it into a bidirectional bike lane. Yes, something that wouldn’t make the safety problem go away, possibly make it worse, and negatively impact motoring. I am not sure the flyover is the correct solution but without have a negative impact on the 1930s bridge it’s about the only way to do it properly and they opposed it because it wasn’t hurting motoring. They say they wanted to be cost effective. Well cost effective would be leaving it the way it has been for decades and maybe adding in some sensor driven traffic signals for the trail.

          Anyway typical of our lovely area, it’s only five years in doing and still not done.

      • Hey Brent,
        When I was a youngster my bike gave me a freedom that is almost unseen today. Most of us rode our bikes to school and we were on them the minute we were released until we grudgingly came home for dinner. On weekends, we often spent all day exploring on our bikes. We knew all the construction sites that were untended, set up dirt tracks with great jumps, never wore helmets and often covered 20 – 30 miles until we rode home for dinner. I don’t remember a single parent screeching about our safety or insisting that we be watched at all times. Even when there was a child killer scare in our area (I was about 12), our parents still let us out, merely advising us to beware of strangers.

        Slowly, the cult of safety tightened its’ grip on our culture and those same kids I rode with, now wouldn’t dream of letting their own children do what we did, with such joy, when we were young. I used to think that this was due solely to the distorted perception created by the rise of rapid, worldwide mass media. Namely, when we see every instance of tragedy, danger, abduction, etc…, from all over the world, we begin to believe that the world is far less safe than it really is. Now I believe that this distorted perception is being pushed, at least in part, by those who wish to crush the love of freedom before it blossoms in the hearts of children.

        Most children, born in the last three decades, have never experienced the freedom and independence we took for granted when young. This is devastating to their development, it produces emotionally unstable, fearful adults, ill equipped to navigate the “real” world. Those few parents who realize the damage caused by the cult of safety, and allow their children the freedom we once enjoyed, are roundly condemned. Just look at opprobrium heaped upon the wonderful Lenore Skenazy when she allowed her 9 year old son to ride the NYC subway alone.


        • I recently read of a woman who had the government “authorities” called on her for allowing her kid to walk the dog around the block by herself. That just adds to the pile of similar stories.

          The government that wants to cage us won’t permit the bicycle, but they first have to get rid of the automobile and motorcycle.


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