Saturday, April 29, 2006

Full Circle and Fuel Mileage Stinks.

My truck only gets 20 mpg on the highway. It is a 1992 Ford Ranger 4X4 with the 4.0 engine rated at 160 hp. Now I could see if it had the 2001 4.0 with the 207 hp version which is what I'd probably upgrade to if this current engine ever wears out. Thing is, after looking around for mileage ratings on vehicles it seems this is never put into ads unless a vehicle gets 30 plus per gallon. Otherwise they won't show what a vehicle gets. No matter, because most stickers show 18-22 mpg but that is a joke in most cases anyway.
Even over at the www.used-policecars.com site, the interceptor's show getting guess what? 18-22 mpg. I could purchase one of them for $13,000 and have a car that would last 300,000 miles easy.
So, I guess it's safe to say if the car ad doesn't say 30+ mpg then they are afraid to admit the mpg because it probably stinks.
Back when I was a kid, we called the small cars with 4's and 6's econo-slugs. Decent mpg but at a much reduced slower pace like a garden slug. Most of those early cars could barely pull a hill without gearing down to second and having all your friends get out and push. I mean, back then if you had an econo-slug and tried to race a V-8, well...you might have a had better chance if you went cliff racing.
But nowadays, the 4's and 6's seem to blow away the bigger engine vehicles on a daily basis in the power and saving gas. Guess today we can call them Econo-bee's. Today they sting the competition and get better fuel mileage. Even if you have to stop to fill up often because most have smaller fuel tanks than a large car. But a large car gets worse range so your probably stopping to fuel up about the same amount.

Back in the late seventies and early eighties, the vast majority of small vehicles basically looked like crap, performed like crap and the inside was cramped. Leg room in back was almost non-existent and very uncomfortable for anything longer than five miles. Everything about those cars were tin-canish. For those who grew up in the era of big powerful tire shredding ground shaking V-8's, the smaller cars were embarrassing to be seen in. To drive a tin can was like trying to castrate a bull. Girl's would go out with the guys in the Camaro's, Chevelle's, Nova's and Mustang's before some guy driving a Vega (unless it had a 350 shoe horned in), Opel, Fiat or Honda. Back then a Honda was this tiny little thing with wheels the size of a snapper lawn mower. Fiats had terrible mechanical issues and Opels, while some looked decent, weren't in great supply and getting them worked on, Ha!
The only cool little car to have back then was a VW Bug. And you could make a Bug fly if you knew how to work on them. They had a fairly nice sized back seat for romance to. Toyota and Mazda were "WHO?"

But the American auto industry just could not make a decent fuel economy, reliable, decent powered small car back then. They gave the whole issue more of a ho-hum attitude. Most small cars they sold were imports with the Ford or Chevy badge on them. It was a mad rush for awhile after the fuel shortage scare of the late seventies and early eighties that was all a smoke screen. Americans just weren't up to the task of making small cars and the public didn't help much either. Muscle cars got parked and sat for years because nobody wanted them. Oh! GM and Ford still made big cars just with weak crappie power plants.
Then slowly at first, American auto manufacturing began increasing horse power again until today you have vehicles that are even huger and waste more fuel again. So it all comes full circle once again. The cars have become such gas guzzling huge behemoths, that it has become a competition to see who could build the largest of large and waste the most gas. Now the panic about gas repeats itself and America falls on it's ass being behind on fuel saving vehicles.
We will see big vehicles being set to the side to rust because nobody wants them again. Like the muscle cars of long ago that you could buy for under $600 for a SuperBee, Chevelle or Roadrunner, you to will see large gas eating hunks go down in value consumerwise in the days to come.
We'll get used to paying the $3.00 a gallon just as in the past when prices went high for the day in the 70's, then came back down a little and stayed for a couple of decades. Then slowly,as we American's do, the itch for more powerful larger vehicles will begin to grow. And we will all go through this again. Our grandkids will stand with open mouths as we tell then about only paying $3.00 a gallon for gas and thinking that was bad.

Me...I can remember when a gallon was .60 some odd cents a gallon as a pre-teen. I could go to the station with a five, fillup, buy a snack and a drink, plus a magazine, ride my motorcycle all week, and still have part of that five in my pocket. When I started driving a car, I could fill up with a twenty and get change back after paying for my gas, a pack of smokes and a magazine. Not only has gas gone up but a pack of smokes is over three bucks and a magazine is four.