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Fuel-efficient cars

Hello Tom & Ray (and others too);

I owned a Chevy Sprint back in the late 80’s/ early 90’s. It was made by Suzuki, had a 1000 CC aluminum engine, ran on regular unleaded gasoline (Only), seated four, ran at interstate speeds well, and consistently got 66 MPG!

Why can’t auto makers replicate this very simple, efficient, easy to maintain car anymore? It did better than all known Hybrids, and is old/proven technology.

Did the Oil Companies buy up the design and the remaining cars (I cannot find a used one anywhere).

Because that Sprint would pass none of the modern safety tests, and because people like/buy cars with much more power/performance.

"It did better than all known Hybrids"
Except the original Honda Insight :slight_smile:

I suspect the answer is: Americans NEED overpowered and over sized vehicles. If it can’t get to 60 MPH in 7 seconds, it is worthless. Note: it generally takes that long to get to 35 MPG in ANY traffic. Even your low powered Sprint could handle that.

OK, they don’t NEED them but they THINK they NEED them. They have an emotional NEED, they are sucked in by the auto advertising to THINK they NEED them. FUN to drive! Yeah, right. Commuting in a 5 second 0-60 sports car is no different than doing it in a 1980s Sprint … except you blow a lot of gas and drive like an idiot ‘proving’ the acceleration is ‘needed’.

Commuting in a 5 second 0-60 sports car is no different than doing it in a 1980s Sprint …"

And sustaining yourself on hard tack and water is the same as eating at 5 star restraunt. And using solar powered calculator is the same as using Deep Blue, and using a BB gun is the same as using a GAU-8, and living in a cardboard box is the same as living in a 6000 square foot mansion…

The Sprint would never pass modern emissions and saftey standards.

Fun fact, a late 80’s Sprint produces more emissions sitting with the engine turned off than a 2005+ Tahoe does with engine running. The gas caps they used allowed the fuel tank to vent right to the atmosphere.

I don’t know about fuel efficient cars, but I will have two fuel deficient cars if gas prices keep going up. I won’t be able to afford the fuel for them.

If I had the choice between 42 mpg on the highway with a new Chevy Cruze Eco and 66 mpg with a 1988 Sprint, guess which one I’m taking. In a year (15k miles) I’d use $500 more gas in the Cruze, money well spent in my opinion.

I need to say something cruel. Larger less efficient cars are need now in America for the larger less efficient people who drive them and their ability to get in and out. Check the average weights of 80’s vs 2010 adult population.
“Numbers posted by the National Center for Health Statistics show that more than 34 percent of Americans are obese.” What does that mean for the size of cars and their interiors built today ?

Your point is well made.

However, commuting on busy roads requires the CAPABILITIES of a “solar powered calculator”, NOT the power of Deep Blue. Sports cars have capabilities that are unnecessary, gas wasting and potentially unsafe IF used, in a normal commuting situation. They are designed for race tracks but they are never used there. Thus, their capabilities are a waste and they burn a lot more fuel than they need to simply BECAUSE they have those unneeded capabilities.

Just as the 6000 sq ft mansion is a waste. There is a bit of difference between a cardboard box and a Sprint. Perhaps you should compare the mansion to a 2,000 sq ft house. You can easily house 4 people in 2,000 sq ft. Probably 12+ people in a 6,000 sq ft mansion.

Also, I don’t think the OP is suggesting the Sprint be brought back exactly as it was in the 80’s but is asking if 66 MPG was possible 30 years ago, why is it not possible now?

Frankly, I am dubious of the 66 MPG number. The EPA on an '85 Sprint was 34/39. Not sure how any amount of super careful, “hyper-mileing” driving could boost that to 66!

Interesting replies folks. I swear I got consistently 66MPG, and I saved my handwritten mileage records. I drove it to/from work every day and often on trips (wife & I, but not the kids). Another co-employee told me about her Sprint. She drove it to/from work (NH to Maine) daily and also got 66MPG - which is why I bought one.

One man’s waste is another man’s paradise, and while I agree with your positions as they pertain to my personal life, I think it is wrong to judge others as you apparently do. If someone has worked hard for the money to buy a sports car, and wants a sports car, that person has earned the right to own a sports car, and deserves to enjoy it without your scorn.

My Uncle Whitey, whose name I adopted for my user name, fought in WWII in the Navy in the Pacific, worked his butt off in a steel mill for decades, and when he entered his retirement, bought himself the biggest sportiest luxury cars money could buy. He earned that right, so I never questioned his lifestyle choices. In my own life, however, I ride a motorcycle and drive a Honda Civic, but that gives me absolutely no moral superiority over my Uncle Whitey.

I am a pretty big guy. I am 6’2", and I weigh about 240 lbs., yet I can easily get into and out of my Honda Civic. Forgive me if I don’t share your view on this issue. Maybe if I was 6’6" tall and/or weighed 300 lbs., I might need a large sedan or SUV, but how many people fit that description?

Sports cars have capabilities that are unnecessary, gas wasting and potentially unsafe IF used, in a normal commuting situation. They are designed for race tracks but they are never used there. Thus, their capabilities are a waste and they burn a lot more fuel than they need to simply BECAUSE they have those unneeded capabilities.

Now I’m going to have to disagree with you on just about every point you just made there.

First off, the Porsche Boxster I had would typically get between 24 to 29 mpg on my normal commute to and from work. That is WAY better than the people I see who drive by themselves in Ford Expeditions, and F-350 diesels with dually rear axles, who are lucky if they get 15 mpg.

Second, I have had to put the extremely powerful brakes and incredibly nimble handling to use in commuting situations many, many times when other drivers do incredibly stupid things in front of me. Blowing red lights is a great example. Deciding at the last minute to go from the third lane to my left, all the way to the exit lane, while I’m right there in the right lane.

My Boxster had been used many times at the racetrack, and i enjoyed every single lap, including the one where a guy in a Mini Cooper S spun out directly in front of me when I was entering turn 1 at HPR at about 65 mph. I had to use those great brakes, and nimble handling to miss that little econobox FWD car.

Here’s what the track looks like:

And the best part is, when I need better fuel economy than I can get from my cars, I simply switch over to my motorcycles. Fuel economy goes way up, handling and braking improve even more, and acceleration rate really climbs.

Just because you think something, doesn’t make it a fact.
I bet you would think differently about cars if you drove something with more character than whatever it is you drive in currently.


I understand what you are saying about the sprint, but let’s face it, the thing was a 1,600 pound tin can, and even with it’s excessively light weight, it was dreadfully underpowered. I will say that the engine was pretty good in terms of quality and durability, but in the experience of a few people I know that had them, the rest of the car had chassis components that would rust-out prematurely, and a minor accident would total them. I wouldn’t feel safe in one, and I am used to small cars.

“They don’t make 'em like they used to.”

“Thank $%^* for that.”

The reason you can’t find any used ones is they rusted out, they’re 30 years old, no one wants them anymore, and no one makes parts for them anymore either.
So, even if you could find one, where would you get parts for it when something broke? Would you willingly pay more than the car’s value to replace the worn out struts/springs? Replace the spark plugs/wires?

They are like the old Escort Diesel…Now, everbody wants one…But when they were being made and sold, nobody would buy them.

Today, that 45 mph into a concrete wall “test” keeps cars like this off the road…No crash tests for motorcycles though. But few of them get 66 miles per gallon and it would take a 40 mph tailwind before a Chevy Spirit could do it either…

You make my point. The Civic is the Sprint of today and much larger with a much larger engine. To think that car manufacturers do not consider the size of their potential buyers is denying fact. When the average size goes up by twenty pounds, the standard deviation around the mean is much greater as well as the extremes. We have only to compare the size of cars and their passengers compartments to those of Europe where the average size is much smaller to give my assumption some validity. Civics accommodate a much greater range of sizes, require more hp and are much better suited to carry “things” we as travelers are now accustomed to take with us. Are we in the automobile world any different than the air line industry? Of course not. Compare the seat widths today to those of 40 years ago. Facts are stuborn things.

In addition, one of my pet peives has always been the size of tire wheel rims in today’s cars. The taller tire of the original beetle left little car width room compared to the lower profile of today. Another direct result of newer lower profile tires is to accommodate this necessary increase in interior space. The average male person today is 190 lbs on a frame of little little increase in height over 40 years ago. So, climb in an old Beetle with it’s functional 40 hp motor, fill it with our buddies of today and compare room. Today’s Civic can be best compared in size to the early Accords and not Sprints in size.

Rose colored glasses I believe, just like with the muscle cars.
Think back to what we had to deal with to get that 40~50mpg; 60hp engines that MIGHT get to 60mph in a few minutes on the freeway; a body that amounted to nothing more than an over sized soda can; finicky carburetors that needed regular adjustments(lord help ya if you moved/traveled from Nevada to Colorado).

I watched the original Fast and Furious(black and white from the 50s) a few months ago and recall hearing one of the drivers in the race saying that he souped up his Thunderbird really good, and it went from 0-50 in under 12 seconds; My old Civic was faster than that from the factory.

The problem with motorcycles is that while they are very light, they are nearly as bad as an open parachute when it comes to wind drag. My Toyota Yaris actually out gas mileages a lot of larger motorcycles on the highway.
I can get 50 mpg on my Kawasaki ZRX1200 commuting to work but in order to get that mpg, I have to keep it under 65 mph.

I had a '91 Geo Metro which was basically a re-badged Sprint and it would deliver 51-54 mpg on the highway if I obeyed the 55 mph speed limit. Go 70 mph with it and I might as well be in my Yaris as far as fuel economy is concerned.