Car w/ no computer parts, poss convert to veg oil

I just moved to the mountains of MA- steep driveway and street, iced over half the year. I am looking for a recommendation. Trying to find a 4WD vehicle (tiny is fine, no kids), that has NO computerized parts (I want to learn to repair my car all by myself), and that can be converted to run on vegetable oil should gas go through the roof. Used and cheap is best. What do you recommend?

Any non-computerized car will be too old to be reliable, safe and efficient by today’s standards.
The computerized systems can be easier to fix and maintain with the right knowledge.
You’re better off looking for a modern base model without a lot of accessories.

Only a diesel could run on veg oil, and the oil has to be prepared through a messy and time consuming process.
How valuable is your time and space?

“…and that can be converted to run on vegetable oil should gas go through the roof.”

Are you interested in a diesel-powered vehicle?
Diesel engines can be made to run on waste vegetable oil that has been treated with appropriate chemicals, but I have never heard of a process for running gasoline-powered vehicles on vegetable oil.

And, if you want a vehicle with “NO computerized parts”, you will need one that was manufactured prior to…perhaps…the late '70s. Perhaps someone else recalls a small diesel-powered 4WD passenger vehicle that was sold in the US about 30-35 years ago, but I can’t think of any.

I think that your Luddite-inspired plan may need to be revised.


For 4WD with no computerized parts, you’d have to be looking at something mid-'70s. Survivors in your region will be notorioiusly hard to find. Rust has long since killed most of them. Advance to the 80’s, and you’ll find electronic ignition system up to electronically controlled carbs. Late 80’s to early 90’s you’ll start to see electronic fuel injection and ECMs.

My first choice for you would be a Subaru, but I just do not see any Subbies from even the 80’s anymore. I’ve no doubt very few have survived. The only car/truck I can think of that’s not a total hog is the late 80’s to early 90’s with 4WD GMC S-10 Jimmy, or Chevy S-10 Blazer with the 4.3L engine. The engines and transmissions in these things are virtually bulletproof, and, even tho they came with TBI fuel injection and engine management systems, I have a couple of friends that successfully converted them to 4-bbl carb and HEI ignition, eliminating the computer controls totally.

But, you’ll need to look at Diesel engines if you want to run on used french fry grease. Gas engines just can’t do it.

Gas will not go through the roof in your lifetime. The world supply is very flexible, and Canada with word’s third largest reserves of oil will be very happy to supply the US at 50% over the current price. In addition to that, US oil supply is increasing quickly and consumption is stagnant.

Simple economics will tell you that when prices rise industry will create more supply.

The only time prices go through the roof is in wartime or embargos by exporting countries. So far, only Venezuela has embargoed the US, and Canada is now the number one of 5 major suppliers of oil to the US. In addition the US is increasing its self-sufficieny from 50% today to over 60% in the nexy 15-20 years.

Refining your own vegetable oil into usable diesel is expensive and difficult, especially where you live with the cold winters. Finding reliable old diesel engines, mostly VW or Mercedes, will be tough.

Since you asked the question, the panelists here have given you some useful advice including explaining the nonsense of trying to be a survivalist in North America, the richest continent in overall resources.

I lived through World War II in Europe, and yes, there fuel prices went through the roof (lack of supply and destroyed manufacturing infrastructure), but even then we could still get crude oil to burn in our lamps.

At this point in time I would say save your money and buy a new/used late model gas or diesel pickup. All the time and money spend on a old vehicle trying to make it run Vegetable oil (where are you going to get 100-1000 Gal’s to run on), You will better off investing the money to pay for gas or diesel.

Your criteria results in “no such animal”. You might be able to find an old VW diesel pickup from circa 1980. The VW Rabbit came in a clone pickup using the same mechanical parts. There was no rear seat and the back was a pickup bed. Really slow, really noisy, very small, and FWD only - no 4WD. It might be convertible to veg oil.

In the mid 70’s Ford made a Bronco, 4WD, pretty small, no computer, not convertible to veg oil, and pretty much a beast for gas mileage. You might be able to find one in TX, AZ, southern CA, or FL. Most have rusted out long ago. If you find one, it is easy to work on. However it will keep you busy. Simple to work on does not equal reliable.

Buy something that meets your needs and learn to do basic maintenance. You can replace the battery, do oil changes, and brake jobs, etc. On most newer cars the computer systems while complicated have resulted in much more reliable and better performing cars overall.

You romantic notion to go back to the good ol’ days means you didn’t actually live in those good old days. Oil changes were frequent, tune ups needed every 10-15K miles, V belts and radiator hoses failed frequently, and 10-15 mpg was the norm. Not to mention more air pollution and cars leaked oil so much the roads were like ice just after it started to rain. The current era cars are simply much better.

I know a guy that converted an older Benz to run on vegetable oil. He actually had the Lovecraft kit installed.

I worked on the car after the conversion and there were many problems. All of the fuel lines, hoses and injectors had to be replaced. By me. The vegetable oil gummed them up AND caused all of the listed items to leak. I’m talking Niagara Falls sized leaks. Mind you, none of those items were leaking before the conversion.

For those of you who are wondering, the Lovecraft system heated up the vegetable oil. So you can’t blame the gummed up components on cold, thick vegetable oil.

He had to start the engine on diesel fuel, then switch over to vegetable oil after everything reached operating temperature.

And he actually used new vegetable oil.

Are you willing to go through a big process converting a diesel vehicle to run on vegetable oil, then deal with the possible resulting problems?

I suggest a Subaru Impreza sedan with a manual transmission. At least you won’t have a transmission computer. You may want an extra set of rims with snow tires on them for the winter.

Coincidence ?
I’ve Been Considering Converting My Vegetable Juicer To Gasoline In Case Electricity Goes Through The Roof. Great Minds Think Alike !

It’s an old one and has no computerized parts and no kids (but, I’ve never seen one with kids) so I could be in luck. I’m thinking Weed Whacker motor . . . I’ll listen in on your recommendations, if you don’t mind.





“You romantic notion to go back to the good ol’ days means you didn’t actually live in those good old days. Oil changes were frequent, tune ups needed every 10-15K miles, V belts and radiator hoses failed frequently, and 10-15 mpg was the norm. Not to mention more air pollution and cars leaked oil so much the roads were like ice just after it started to rain. The current era cars are simply much better.”

You could also have added the need for frequent decarbonizing, valve jobs, and ring jobs, rampant body rot, plus universally crummy brakes and incredibly poor handling/roadholding.

Whenever I hear a person say, “They just don’t make them like they used to”, my response to that naive person is…“Yes, thank God”.

May I suggest taking Luddite to the max, f-d. with a few modifications to the plumbing a 2 cylinder compressor with a relatively small but robust tank attached to a burner will become a steam engine EXTRAORDINAIRE. With proper ratios on the belts, mounted to a dolly with proper wheels the sky is the limit on the usefulness of such a piece of equipment, It might follow this proven set up.

Anything combustible would keep it motivating.

@CSA, I wondered where Tim the Tool Man moved when he retired.

Crazy ? I’m Not Crazy. Everybody Else Is !

@Rod Knox that is actually not a tractor. What it is a gas powered rotoriller where the tiller part is replaced by two wheels, and the whole thing is connected to a trailer.
Funky isn’t it?

They called it a “traktor” 6 bits. And it was built to pull all types of plows and wagons but not a roto-tiller that I could see. And this one is called a ‘motocultor.’

very simple. And very practical for 3d world subsistance farming.

Friend,perhaps you should start hanging out with different people,forget that vegtable oil nonsense.If and when the gas runs out,something else will come on the market.Of all the old none computer vehicles I’ve owned.I dont want any of them back(poor ride,poor gas mileage and unsafe) take a ride in a 57 Ford,then get an 2007 Ford,tell me which one you would drive across the US-Kevin

There are several television channels that are intent on selling doomsday. I really don’t want to survive the “rapture” myself. But then I don’t really expect to face it.

I have a better alternative. Convert a gasoline engine to run on natural gas. Its much cheaper than gasoline and we are fracking the stuff out of the ground faster than you can say F150. Conversion would replace the fuel injection or carb with a “mixer” that blends air and gas to run the engine. A simple stand alone electronic ignition would provide spark. The truck would have enough space to install a tank to hold the gas. The only problem is to install a pumping system to raise the pressure from the supply line to the much higher tank pressure in your garage so you can refill your tank. Google “natural gas conversions” and start your search. Forget veggie oil, it needs to be mixed with methanol to titrate out the glycerine so it doesn’t gum up the injectors.