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  1. #1
    Fatties Fit Fine carless's Avatar
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    Miles per Gallon, Decades of Progress*

    God Loves The 1974 VW Dasher
    Why my mom's old yellow econobox still beats the crap out of any new car on the road

    By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

    Friday, September 16, 2005

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...otes091605.DTL

    I can't think of a thing to add.
    "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win."
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    Senior Member Thor29's Avatar
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    I like Morford's rants for the most part, but he's full of crap on this one. Look, even if the government mandated higher mileages and made everyone drive hybrids, we'd still be dependent on oil. Maybe not as much now, but the country would just keep growing until all the gains we make with higher mileages are swamped. And this idea that you could build a 100mpg car if only the government made companies do it is nonsense. The highest mileage cars available do it by being smaller and slower, which isn't what big, fat Americans want and they would never let politicians shove such cars down their throats. If Morford actually cared all that much about burning gas and all the problems that it causes, he could have chosen not to buy a car at all.

  3. #3
    Fatties Fit Fine carless's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thor29
    I like Morford's rants for the most part, but he's full of crap on this one. Look, even if the government mandated higher mileages and made everyone drive hybrids, we'd still be dependent on oil. Maybe not as much now, but the country would just keep growing until all the gains we make with higher mileages are swamped. And this idea that you could build a 100mpg car if only the government made companies do it is nonsense. The highest mileage cars available do it by being smaller and slower, which isn't what big, fat Americans want and they would never let politicians shove such cars down their throats. If Morford actually cared all that much about burning gas and all the problems that it causes, he could have chosen not to buy a car at all.
    He is a "Daily Show" type columnist. I don't buy all of what he writes, but like Kunstler he makes you think!
    "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win."
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  4. #4
    Senior Member RacerX's Avatar
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    Dasher is a compact car. Take any compact car today and compare mpg's to the Dasher. He's wrong.
    He compares mpg's to an Audi sporthatch? Give me a break.

    Oh and he forgot a little detail... called ENVIROMENTAL POLLUTION. Drive 20 midsize SUV's and it will still not pollute as much as one VW Dasher.
    A Dasher could not pass emmissions on it's best day of the worst mid size suv in production.

    SAFETY? Oh yeah, crumple zones and multiple airbags don't mean much I guess. Active and passive safety features

    ENVIROMENTALLY CONCIOUS PRODUCTION Oh yeah the Dasher's off-gassing ancient plastics technology polluting the enviroment for many years to come while many modern vehicles get coded, easy to recycle, enviromentally concious formulated materials.

    GAS MILEAGE yeah let's compare a Honda Civic hatchback that has over three times the horsepower, 10x more comfort, safety and 20-50x LESS toxic emmissions but still gets 30-40mpg's.

    And this is all assuming a Dasher got 30-40mpg's which I don't believe at all.
    gimmie a break.

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    I owned an Audi Fox. The same car as the Dasher under the skin. It had a 4 speed manual and mileage was in the high 20s, maybe 30, period. Good but not outstanding. It needed a 5-speed to really get into the mid-30s on the highway. I really liked the car and wish that it hadn't worn out. And it was totally worn out at 135,000 miles. It had points ignition and really required a tune up every 10-15,000 mile. Do any of you actually remember the last time you even heard of anyone changing spark plugs on a car?

    An interesting point regarding the Dasher/Fox drive train. It was the among the very last production cars to meet emissions requirements without a catalytic converter. It wouldn't come close to meeting current emissions requirements.

    It was in many ways a mid's-sixties design. It had three ventilation systems for fresh air, heat and air condititioning. I don't believe that any of these cars came into the United States with factory installed air. Those with A/C were installed at the dealer.

    It was a very effiicient design from a space utilization point of view, with a huge trunk on the Fox, and the station wagon versions of either car had some major interior volume, for a compact car. It was a reasonable trip car, if a little buzzy at speeds above 70. It's aerodynamics and gearing caused a real drop off in fuel economy above 65. Remember, it was really intended for a 55 mph speed limit. It had 10 mph bumpers front and rear.

    My current drive is a 1995 Ford thunderbird. At 65 mph, it will get over 27 mpg. In the city, stop and go, the Audi would clean its clock from a fuel economy standpoint. But the lack of performance, compared to today's cars would require real patience.

    I do wish I still had the Audiwagen, but todays Civics, Corollas, Elantras et. al. are really much better cars.

  6. #6
    Senior Member joeprim's Avatar
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    That is a dumb website. Technicoly poor. Why would I want the governmnt telling me what to buy? That should be market pressure. And My "Nissan PU gets 30 -31 in the summer and slightly less in the winter.

    How many BTUs are in a gallon of gas? How many BTUs does it take to get a car/truck down the road at various speeds? There are physical limits to gas miliage!

    The more semsible answer is bio desiel. I've been screming this for 20 years, but no one wanted to listen. Finially there is some motion in this direction - but it is market pressure not the oval office that will force things.

    Joe

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    I agree with what some others have written. Conservation won't reduce consumption of gasoline. If demand in the U.S. for auto fuel declines, other uses for gasoline will take the place of automobile travel. Other nations that aren't wealthy will just buy more oil, too.

    Conservation is an important response to scarcity, of course, but the price of oil is nowhere near scarcity levels.

    All that said, a moment's reflection tells us how far automobiles are from what they could be in efficiency. If you look at at velocar, for example, you get a sense of what designs can coax reasonable amounts of speed from very little power. It wouldn't take but a few horsepower to get a velocar to freeway speeds. If gasoline ever does become scarce, it will be easily possible to build much more efficient vehicles than we use now.

    "Dependency" on oil-- an overrated problem, but a problem, it's true-- can be overcome only through alternative sources of energy. Conservation of oil won't do it.

  8. #8
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    The honda civic does indeed have a couple times more horsepower than many of the gas-miser cars of decades ago. And it does indeed get about the same gas-mileage. I don't see that as a good thing.

    I find it a huge shame that people, left to their own devices, buy cars that have far more ability to accelerate than necessary. You can't buy cars with engines that weak any more, but if current technology were used on cars with weaker engines we'd get great gas mileage. Slow-accelerating cars don't sell because people associate them with a lack of status and a lack of fun. I don't think looking rich or fun is a justifiable reason for buying a car that pollutes more.

    I drive occasionally and when I do I drive a decade-old toyota corolla 3-speed. When I'm not trying to merge on to a freeway (which involves quick uphill acceleration, since freeways are usually raised) I probably use no more than a quarter of its maximum power output, flat ground or uphill. (This saves a bit of gas.) When i'm trying to merge on to a freeway, I probably use no more than half of its maximum power output.

    All in all, I'd be thrilled if I could trade the car in for a car with half the horsepower (and a transmission designed for 2/3 of the horsepower, because that transmission is a weak link.) I'm sure the reduction in weight, (and in weight rotating at thousands of rpms) would greatly increase gas mileage. If everybody learned to drive as though fast acceleration were out of the question, they could all get better gas mileage and lower CO2 output. We wouldn't get where we're going more than a minute or two later! Truckers get by with slow, slow acceleration and the rest of us could too, if we wanted to.

  9. #9
    Senior Member RacerX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cerewa
    ou can't buy cars with engines that weak any more, but if current technology were used on cars with weaker engines we'd get great gas mileage. Slow-accelerating cars don't sell because people associate them with a lack of status and a lack of fun. I don't think looking rich or fun is a justifiable reason for buying a car that pollutes more.

    that is an ASSUMPTION YOU ARE MAKING. Do you have some kind of proof a weaker engine gets better mpg's? The example Civic has around 1.5L 4cyl. Put in a 1.0 or .7L 4cyl and would it get great mpg's or would it be dog slow, unpleasant and have to work so hard that the gap would be non-existant and much less pleaasureable for the owner? Point is you have to think of more than just one aspect

    I drive occasionally and when I do I drive a decade-old toyota corolla 3-speed. When I'm not trying to merge on to a freeway (which involves quick uphill acceleration, since freeways are usually raised) I probably use no more than a quarter of its maximum power output, flat ground or uphill. (This saves a bit of gas.) When i'm trying to merge on to a freeway, I probably use no more than half of its maximum power output.
    you have no idea what percentage of your engine's HP you are using unless you are dyno'ing your car as you're doing it

    All in all, I'd be thrilled if I could trade the car in for a car with half the horsepower (and a transmission designed for 2/3 of the horsepower, because that transmission is a weak link.) I'm sure the reduction in weight, (and in weight rotating at thousands of rpms) would greatly increase gas mileage. If everybody learned to drive as though fast acceleration were out of the question, they could all get better gas mileage and lower CO2 output. We wouldn't get where we're going more than a minute or two later! Truckers get by with slow, slow acceleration and the rest of us could too, if we wanted to.
    They do- it's called the PRIUS. It's dog slow, gets great mpg's and nearly zero emissions. There are also equally slow, efficient cars from other builders to buy from.
    You also ignore the technological advancement and also the market. We live in a FREE MARKET economy that is driven by consumer demand, not goverment mandate. Car companies can't sell a dog-slow Corolla 3 spd w/ crappy emissions and subpar mpg's. If the consumers demanded it, yes, they would sell it

  10. #10
    darling no baka landstander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RacerX
    They do- it's called the PRIUS. It's dog slow, gets great mpg's and nearly zero emissions. There are also equally slow, efficient cars from other builders to buy from.
    You also ignore the technological advancement and also the market. We live in a FREE MARKET economy that is driven by consumer demand, not goverment mandate. Car companies can't sell a dog-slow Corolla 3 spd w/ crappy emissions and subpar mpg's. If the consumers demanded it, yes, they would sell it
    I've gotta disagree on the bit about hybrids being especially slow. My wife and I have a 2005 Prius (our first non-conventional car), and it accellerates as well as anything we've owned before... better than several of it's predecessors, in fact. It also has no trouble reaching and holding highway/interstate speeds.
    Dragon... ATTACK!

  11. #11
    my dad can still crush me
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    A question I have always wondered is weather we produce enough bio waste to create bio desiel fuel for every car on the road? I mean I know me make enough corn to make alcohol fuels for everyone on the road, but bio desiel? I'm not making a judgement, just asking the question.

    Milo

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    I just got a Prius, a certified pre-owned one with 9k miles on it, so it acts like it's going to act for the next several years. It's not dog-slow, I've driven cars that are dog-slow! It keeps up with traffic just fine, and frankly the potential to zoom around in traffic and disgruntle people and maybe get to know a cop up close is there. It has better power and handling than my Saturn Ion had, and handling normal traffic is well within its capabilities.

    (I'd still feel uneasy in abnormal traffic, known as the rage-filled roads of arizona and socal, where testosterone-drenched caucasians roam free and too many others act like them, where couches and stoves and flipped trucks present themselves before you on a 70+ MPH freeway, and all that. In that case it's almost a matter of get something very good, very safe, BMW or something, or you're lucky enough to be able to, just stay home!)

    Because of cheap gas, gas mileage has faded as a goal among many other goals in car design over the last 30 years, like good AC, good tunes, power, handling, safety, cupholders, and God knows what else. The discovery of the North Sea oilfields gave us a 20-year vacation from the concept of Peak Oil and cars advanced by light-years, just not in the fuel effeciency dept. Passenger rail systems didn't get revived and more built, because everyone was out having fun driving around on $1.25 gas. Bus systems likewise. Bicyclists on the road are still considered outsiders and oddities.

    We know, after decades and decades, how to set up a fairly safe road for cars - no poles sticking up in the middle of the road, tank-trap type barriers sprouting up out of nowhere, traffic aimed at other traffic head-on, potholes and debris that can flip a car. But, that's the state of bike lanes and routes. Our knowledge of how to set up a good bus or passenger train system is probably about where the europeans were in the 1920s.

    Now the vacation is over, oops homework's staring us in the face, gotta get back into getting up at 6AM again, fun and games over, we have to face the Peak Oil final exam. Things are changing fairly fast now, if gas hits say $4 next summer there's going to be a huge difference in what we see out on the road.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by lilHinault
    Now the vacation is over, oops homework's staring us in the face, gotta get back into getting up at 6AM again, fun and games over, we have to face the Peak Oil final exam. Things are changing fairly fast now, if gas hits say $4 next summer there's going to be a huge difference in what we see out on the road.
    You know, most people I know who get up at 6AM are suburbanites trying to beat the rush hour. By bike, or bike+light rail some years ago, I'm faster than a car and I can get up 15 to 30 minutes later and still be at work on time.

  14. #14
    Fattest Thin Man Az B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by A3rd.Zero
    A question I have always wondered is weather we produce enough bio waste to create bio desiel fuel for every car on the road? I mean I know me make enough corn to make alcohol fuels for everyone on the road, but bio desiel? I'm not making a judgement, just asking the question.

    Milo
    Biodiesel can be and is made from corn oil. 20 something years ago two Volvo engineers built two prototype vehicles that would run off of Mazola from the grocery store without any refinement. I saw them pour a few bottles bought from the grocery store straight into the fuel tank.

    Of course GM bought the rights to those vehicles and immediately stopped any further development. The two engineers continued to drive the prototypes for many years back and forth to work.

    Currently, the idea is to recycle the waste into fuel. But it would be an amazingly simple thing to grow more corn and develop vehicles such as this to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.

    Az

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    Nope it takes a LOT of oil to grow corn in the massive quantities it's grown in the US these days. Take that oil away, and what corn is grown is going right into the stomach of a bike rider or that of our friend, the horse.

    I had the most lovely day today driving my new Prius around, but coming the other way I saw something far more advanced and I knew it - a wagon drawn by horses.

  16. #16
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    Nope it takes a LOT of oil to grow corn in the massive quantities it's grown in the US these days.
    Fortunately, the processes used to grow corn could run off of corn oil, and if they did they would produce far more corn oil than they used.

    a study by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy in 1998 and another in 2002 for the French government show that soybeans and canola oil yield three to four times more energy than is needed to make the fuel.
    - http://www.smithsonianmag.si.edu/smi...phenomena.html

    Other source give similar figures.
    Some awesome folks who are working to give Haitians the ability to manage their safety and their lives:
    Haiti Partners

  17. #17
    winter is comming BenyBen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cerewa
    Fortunately, the processes used to grow corn could run off of corn oil, and if they did they would produce far more corn oil than they used.

    Wouldn't adding another massive single crop production be devastating for topsoil?

  18. #18
    Senior Member joeprim's Avatar
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    Why make just corn oil. rotate crops make corn then soybean. That is a good rotation for the soil.

    Joe

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    winter is comming BenyBen's Avatar
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    I'm no scientist, but I would think that a land needs a diversity of more then 2 or 3 crops to stay healthy. And that land would also need a "rest" every now and then.

    Even if I'm wrong on that, I would still have questions.

    -The amount of land needed to produce corn oil on such a large scale as we would need could be devastating, no? Make way for corn/soybean oil production, or still farm food for people?
    -Will we cut down more trees to make way for corn oil making? Will we be doing this here, or buying corn from 3rd world countries (let them cut the trees, and/or let their populations go hungrier)?
    -What will be the impact of another major scale production of crop on the level at which we use drinkable water and the aquifer levels.
    -More pesticides to go into water?

  20. #20
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    Conservation and alternative fuels (valuable though they are) are just exercises in tail chasing unless we change our sprawling land use and settlement patterns. As long as we continue to build developments in which the percentage of discretionary driving is approximately zero we will overwhelm any gains made through conservation or advances in technology, just as Thor29 said the second post in this thread.

  21. #21
    Fattest Thin Man Az B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lilHinault
    Nope it takes a LOT of oil to grow corn in the massive quantities it's grown in the US these days.
    Um, just to point out the obvious, the farm machinery could easily be converted to run on the corn oil. A small amount of corn oil burned would produce a huge amount of corn oil crop.

    That's the beauty of a renewable resource.

    Az

  22. #22
    Fattest Thin Man Az B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rickwilliams
    Conservation and alternative fuels (valuable though they are) are just exercises in tail chasing unless we change our sprawling land use and settlement patterns. As long as we continue to build developments in which the percentage of discretionary driving is approximately zero we will overwhelm any gains made through conservation or advances in technology, just as Thor29 said the second post in this thread.
    Absolutely. When I lived in London I had a car that I never used. It was a bigger PITA to drive the car, pay for the fuel, find parking, etc than it was to take public transport or walk. The main part of London is pretty close to 1 square mile.

    A great example of idiocy in planning; recently a nearby Kroger closed thier store in a strip mall to move less than 1/4 mile away. The lot where the store went was a beautiful forest, a greenspace next to a school. The old Kroger store is standing empty and probably will for a long time.

    It makes no friggin' sense.

    Az

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