50 MPG Then – and Now

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Getting 50 MPG out of a gallon of gas has gotten a lot more expensive over the past 20-something years.

Back in 1990, it only cost $5,995 – $10,614 in corrected-for-2012 Fed Funny Money. That sum would buy you a new Geo Metro XFi hatchback, a car capable of 53 city, 58 highway (43 city/52 highway using the EPA”s latest “adjusted” standards).

See here, if you don’t believe me.

Today, the only new car that can match that mileage is a Toyota Prius hybrid – the least expensive version of which – the 2013 Prius C – has a sticker price of $18,950 in current Fed Funny Money. So, you’ll pay nearly twice as much to go about as far on a gallon of gas. (Actually, more than that, because it takes about three times the quantity of Fed Funny Money to buy a gallon today vs. back in 1990.)

If Uncle really gave a damn about us – as opposed to increasing his power over us -  don’t you think he’d encourage more cars like the Metro? Wouldn’t they “reduce our dependence on foreign oil”? Wouldn’t they contribute less to “global warming” by dint of converting less gasoline into carbon dioxide?

Well?

In fact, Uncle has done everything conceivable to take such cars off the road. To make them an impossibility. He has  legislated – and regulated – them out of existence. There is nothing comparable to the Metro available new today, nor has there been for at least a decade. Why? Did affordable economical cars (as distinct from today’s hybrid cars) suddenly become unsaleable? Or did government make them impossible to sell?

Consider:

For the entire history of the automobile, from the Model T to the modern era, there were always cheap little cars that got great gas mileage (in relative and real terms). In the deco era of the roaring ’20s, Blue Light Special Model Ts mingled with Cords and Auburns. In the ’50s, Power Pack dual quad 283 Bel Airs and monstrous Cadillacs shared the road with Nash Metropolitans. In the ’60s, there were agile little Corvairs among the mighty muscle cars – and by the ’70s, Beetles (and Datsun B210s and Civic CVCCs) were literally everywhere.

As recently as the ’90s, cars like the Metro abounded. There was the Honda Civic CRX – capable of 52 MPG on the highway (47 MPG, adjusted by the EPA to reflect current measuring methods). The 43 MPG Ford Festiva. The 45 MPG Mercury Lynx. There were literally dozens of them, all makes and models.

Now, they’re all gone.

And the only way to save money on gas is to spend a lot of it on a new hybrid.

A hybrid is expensive because it has to be. You’re paying for two powertrains instead of just the one. A normal gas engine to keep the batteries topped off, plus electric motors and all the stuff associated with their operation. Of course this results in a car that is also heavy as well as expensive. The Prius C – lightest of all current hybrids – weighs 2,500 lbs. The 1990 Geo Metro weighed 1,620 lbs. It’s an inescapable law of physics that you need more and more power to move more and more mass. Thus, the “efficient” Prius C is propelled by a 1.5 liter four cylinder engine – while the almost 1,000 lbs. lighter Metro was able to get around (and get around just as quickly) with a three cylinder, 1.0 liter engine.

Now you know why a car built more than 20 years ago – with late 1980s-era technology – was able to deliver fuel economy almost as good as a “state of the art” new hybrid – and do it for about half the cost.

That’s pretty damning. But what’ll really get your juices flowing is to consider what a car like the ’90 Metro could do if it had the benefit of equipment that’s commonly available today – such as a six-speed manual (or better yet, for gas mileage purposes) continuously variable (CVT) transmission. That old Metro approached the MPGs of a new Prius C with a three-speed automatic. When equipped with the five-speed manual, it matched or exceeded the Prius’ numbers.

The implication – the fact – is that it would be simple to build and sell a low-cost compact or subcompact car capable of averaging 50 MPG – and probably tickling 70 on the highway.

If it weren’t for Uncle.

Because Uncle has decreed that cars like the Metro are “unsafe.” Too light to pass muster with Uncle’s crashworthiness tests. An insufficiency of steel – and of air bags. And so, verboten.

That’s why they’re all gone – and why we’re paying through the nose for “efficient” cars that take six years of $400 a month payments to pay off.

Thanks, Uncle.

Throw it in the Woods?

 

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eric

Author of "Automotive Atrocities" and "Road Hogs" (MBI). Currently living amongst the Edentulites in rural SW Virginia. 

  106 comments for “50 MPG Then – and Now

  1. Tinsley Grey Sammons
    October 30, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    And then there is the rapidly growing Naked Ape* population. Two identical vehicles are worse than a single vehicle.

    U.S. population 310,000,000 and rapidly growing but discussing the issue of Population Growth remains all but verboten. And of course more Naked Apes will generate more laws.

    tgsam

    *The Naked Ape population should have been Mankind’s primary concern for at least a century.

    Someday people will hate one another simply because there are so many. –Philip Wylie (FINLEY WREN, published in 1936)

    Gawd how true.

    • methylamine
      October 30, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      Tinsely you have a remarkable blind spot on the faux overpopulation meme.

      It’s propagated by the eugenics-obsessed psychopathic Elites to suit their agenda–reduce population to 500 million pliable serfs and lord it over them ad libitum.

      But it just ain’t true. Please do more research; you’re so well-read in other topics it surprises me you haven’t disabused yourself of this shibboleth.

      It’s about as valid as anthropogenic global warming–and spawned by the same lying psychopaths.

      • MoT
        October 30, 2012 at 5:38 pm

        I always find it bitterly ironic that the very powers responsible for the shit we have to endure then wag their evil tongues and chastise us for existing within their handiwork.

      • Jean
        June 4, 2013 at 7:32 pm

        Meth,
        I think that Sam was referring to the sheer volume of people making life unwlecome. IE, “I can see my neighbor’s chminey smoke, so it’s time to move,” types.
        There IS the “overpopulation” problems as well, not so much as in, “no space / food/ resources” as in – More Clovers due to more easy living in cities. More Sheeple. More imbeciles to make OUR lives difficult, by sheer volume of humanity.

        Maybe I’m saying the same thign twice, in a way. But “orverpopulation” is more than just whther or not we can feed and clothe everyone. It also includes having QUALITY people around, not just quantity.

        I’m at the point where I think the Quality is moslty constant. as Qauntity is NOT constant, however…. WE take it in the @$$. :-(

    • sue
      November 1, 2012 at 5:31 pm

      So why don’t you mention the Smart Car?
      High mileage,safe and cheap

      • Mithrandir
        November 1, 2012 at 6:22 pm

        For what it is, I do not consider the Smart to be inexpensive.

        A new Nissan Versa 1.6L sedan can seat 4/5 people and carry more than a Smart for less $$$.

      • November 1, 2012 at 6:57 pm

        Hi Sue,

        The Smart, unlike the Metro, is a limited use car. It can only accommodate two people – and has minimal cargo-carrying capacity and is marginal at best for use on highways. Given this – and given pretty poor gas mileage (38 highway) for what it is – I don’t consider the $12,490 to start Smart car inexpensive.

        Because for most people, a second car will be necessary.

        • Josh
          November 1, 2012 at 10:55 pm

          My wife just leased a Smart car. And let me tell you, it is one of the most unpleasant cars to drive I’ve ever had the misfortune of riding in. It’s an automatic that shifts like a bad driver on a stick, it has no and I mean NO acceleration, and all that just to get mid 30s mpg on the highway in real world usage. If that’s the best we can expect from such a small car, God help us.

          • November 1, 2012 at 11:17 pm

            Yeah, I don’t get the Smart car, either. For about $1,000 less, you could buy a real car like the Nissan Versa 1.6 with AC. It can carry 4-5 people and is highway capable and gets the same or better gas mileage. Or, for about the same money as you’d spend on a Smart, you could buy a Mazda2 that does everything the Versa does, but is slightly nicer/better equipped.

  2. clark
    October 30, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    “discussing the issue of Population Growth remains all but verboten.” ??? Psft, wHAt?

    Lots of conversations happen about population levels, thing is, guys like you decide to just ignore the facts, such as happened the last time this subject came up on this blog.

    The problems People have that appear to be related to population levels are simply due to bureaucrats and their minions.

    Population Growth as Propaganda: The Greens and the Reds
    http://lewrockwell.com/north/north986.html

    • Dutch
      October 31, 2012 at 7:51 pm

      Reproduction rates in nearly every first world country are less than 2. This means that every 2 parents are having less than 2 kids, and the net result is population throughout the first world is in decline.

      So given what you and the facts affirm, I can only assume that Tinsley is just really mad that the starving people in subsaharan Africa, who must reproduce more to overcome child mortality rates, are consuming a few scraps of food per week that could otherwise go to him.

      This after all is the true mindset of the Eugenicist who promotes these pseudo-scien-statistical frauds. At least applaud him for his lack of shame in showing his true colors…

      • KK
        November 1, 2012 at 3:12 pm

        Show me something that says 2 parents are having less than 2 kids per. I live in Texas and I can assure you certain populations are procreating like bunnies. My two don’t scratch the ass of their litters.

        • methylamine
          November 1, 2012 at 4:50 pm

          Last I checked, if you count only white families, the birthrate is 1.9.

          Replacement is 2.3

          In other words, if it weren’t for immigrants our population would be decreasing, as it is in Europe.

          It’s a classical curve; as populations become more prosperous and healthier, they have fewer children, later, and on whom they lavish more resources–since it takes a greater head start to compete in an increasingly sophisticated society.

          The Eugenicists love the “over-population” meme, even though it’s thoroughly debunked.

          They’ve been predicting global population collapses since the 1500′s.

          The truth is, it’s a device to lead them where they really want to go–massive depopulation with a nice strong dose of eugenics…to “kill the weeds”.

          The nastiest real racists are people like Margaret Sanger–founder of Planned Parenthood. Hitler was her protege–literally, look it up.

          • KK
            November 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm

            I did. She had a point. You have to get a license to marry, to drive, to fish…but not to reproduce. That’s MY point. People who keep spitting out kids they can’t support make me ill.

          • Boothe
            November 1, 2012 at 5:44 pm

            There’s a simple solution KK and it doesn’t require “licensing”; cut off the flow of welfare money. If there’s no incentive to pop out “litters” of illegitimate children (i.e. a bigger WIC check), a lot of it will stop.

            It’s the bird feeder analogy. If you put a bird feeder on your back porch, you will indeed attract a lot of birds. They will eventually reach saturation, scrap with each other over the free food, crap all over everything, scatter seeds and shells everywhere and become dependent on you. I’ve even had them fly up to our sliding glass door and flutter at me as if to say “Hey you, the feeder’s empty. Get off your butt and get us some more food.” Even birds develop a sense of entitlement if you let them.

            So if you don’t want deal with the mess, take down the feeder. The same thing applies to people; cut off the free shit and the “Free Shit Army” will eventually evaporate. Oh it would be ugly at first, but that would peak fairly quickly. A lot of the “unemployable” would find something productive to do (or relatives to mooch off of) shortly after their stomachs started growling.

            From what I’ve seen many of our “poor” could live off their own body fat for weeks. But for those folks that feel sorry for a 300+ pound loudmouthed freeloader “who be disabled” (because she has hand-to-mouth disease and can barely walk due to “free” chips and soda consumption), they are free to contribute to private charity.

          • BrentP
            November 1, 2012 at 6:03 pm

            Entitlement birds…. Geese. People will stop in the middle of the road to let these birds waddle across the street like people crossing mid-block on a major road in front of a housing project.

            I keep driving and the birds remember they can fly or at least walk fast enough not to get run over.

            The idea that we have to do something about irresponsible people is just an excuse to control everyone. Every attempt to deal with irresponsible people has made the problem worse. The only thing that reduces their population, the only thing that turns them into responsible people, is freedom. Freedom for everyone. They are left to deal with the consequences of their own behavior.

            Prison. Welfare. Food stamps. Whatever. Doesn’t work. Freedom, the opportunity to be productive does. And that’s key, the welfare and the rest is about creating dependency and stopping upward mobility as much as it is a patch on the fact that opportunity is stripped away by government and those who control and influence it.

          • November 1, 2012 at 6:56 pm

            Boothe, you are so correct. I’m going to have to remember that bird-feeder analogy.

        • George
          November 1, 2012 at 7:39 pm

          Its the caucasions ‘ only ‘.

          • Roger Farguson
            November 2, 2012 at 2:58 pm

            Excellent comments from all. Thanks, Brent P. for your excellent piece.
            It’s a very succint answer to all the socialists out there who are trying to remove our freedom.
            I’m Canadian…. 75% of my fellow countrymen love Obama. When I ask them if they’ve spent 5 minutes finding out about what he believes they merely call me a right wing fanatic. Don’t you love out media???

  3. clark
    October 30, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Al Gore just never seems to go away.

    Al Gore, Agenda 21 and Population Control

    “… the global elite [and their minions] really do believe in population control and they really are seeking to implement a radical environmental agenda across the entire planet.

    They want total control of everyone and everything so that they can impose the measures that they believe are necessary to “fix” the planet.”

    http://lewrockwell.com/rep2/al-gore-agenda-21-population-control.html

    Just never you mind the Fact that population growth is in decline, pony up for those expensive hybrids now, to do your part to save the planet. Eck. Idiots.

    • The Bobster
      October 31, 2012 at 2:56 pm

      They only believe in population control for White people, while flooding White countries with violent, low-IQ turd worlders.

      • Jim
        November 1, 2012 at 3:12 am

        Please we don’t even have enough people in our country to repopulate the middle east after we exterminate them.

        Americans need to plan people for the invasion force, plus a surplus to replace all the Americans that die from dirty bombs and other acts of terror.

        • JvG
          November 2, 2012 at 12:14 am

          Jim,

          Seems like you like to get your news from Faux Spews (Propaganda). We have no business in the Middle East in the first place. Depleted uranium weapon debris over there kills and mutates a lot of people. Including our soldiers and thier radiologicly deformed children

          • Jean
            June 4, 2013 at 7:37 pm

            Given what’s in the middle east… And that it’s been about that way for a few THOUSAND years…

            What makes you think the URANIUM is to blame?
            (Espceially since “depleted” means there is less radioactivity.)

        • methylamine
          November 2, 2012 at 4:41 am

          Whoa there, Fox News!

          Do you even know anyone from the Middle East? A (gasp!) Iranian, nee Persian?

          I promise you, you have more in common with an Iranian shopkeeper than you do with your “representative” in the House of Whores, also known as Congress*.

          Do you lust for domination over other people, sacrificing everything for power and wealth? Do you routinely lie your way through your day? Do you make shady deals under the table for a living?

          Do you live–extremely well–off money confiscated at gunpoint from hard-working people much poorer than you, then pass laws to their great detriment?

          That Iranian shopkeeper is a human being. He has kids he loves just as much as you love yours and I love mine. His wife’s his high-school sweetheart, and they enjoy vacations with their kids just as much as you or I do. He’s someone’s dear son, and he loves his parents just as much as you or I do.

          Those brown people over there are human beings. The vast majority of them not only don’t hate us, they actually LIKE us–not our government.

          See, they’re educated enough to draw the distinction. They hate our government–as do people over here who have an inkling of how foully evil that gang of criminals is. But hate Americans? No–with a very few exceptions.

          Now let me as you the REAL question: who’s been the aggressor?

          Don’t answer that with the agit-prop piece of 9/11. Even if you believe the utterly bullshit government explanation, those were Saudis–not Iranians, Iraqis, Afghanis, Syrians, Libyans, or Yemenis (all places our government is plundering unspeakably).

          Next question: what’s the last time Iran launched a war of aggression?

          And what’s the last time…oh wait never mind, we’re launching another one right now! In fact we’ve been at war continuously somewhere since 1950.

          Our government–with us apathetically watching the flicker-tuned TV–has overthrown Iran’s government twice since 1954, when they installed the despicable Shah. So they have a REASON to be pissed at us–and yet still have the intelligence and compassion to keep us separate from the criminal federal government.

          Let’s try doing the same to them; let’s start saying “The Iranian government is intolerable, just as ours is…Hey! Why don’t we befriend Iranians, and BOTH chuck our hideous governments!”

          Because THAT, friend, is what governments never, ever want us to do.

          * By the way, funny thing: a group of crows is called a “murder”. A group of geese is called a “gaggle”. And a group of the most vicious, dirty, aggressive, and overall unpleasant primates–the baboon–is called a “congress”.

  4. liberranter
    October 30, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    In fact, Uncle has done everything conceivable to take such cars off the road. To make them an impossibility. He has legislated – and regulated – them out of existence. There is nothing comparable to the Metro available new today, nor has there been for at least a decade. Why?

    Getting affordable and economical cars off the road is just the first step toward the ultimate goal, which is to make it impossible for us mere serfs to drive, thereby enabling the State to gain absolute control over our movement.

    • Boothe
      October 30, 2012 at 6:35 pm

      I agree libberanter. We have a sputtering economy, low inflation adjusted wages(even for those of us with technical skills or a craft), $3.00+ a gallon gas and a snoop, grope, taze and shoot police state all brought to you by a gun-vernemnt owned and operated by the international banksters and the corporate elite. The message I get is “Stay home citizen!”

      As I’ve mentioned before, I see a lot more motorcycles and scooters around town. And especially scooters which are of course cheap and good for getting around town, but little else. One would hardly consider taking a cross country trip on a 49cc two stroke barely capable of 40 MPH. But taking off across the countryside in a Geo, which is capable of highway speeds, has a roof, heat and a reasonable amount of cargo space (and is also easier to maintain your privacy in) doesn’t take a second thought.

      That’s too much freedom, too much mobility for low echelon citizens such as us; we should be walking or take the bus and only do so unarmed. After all we have no ‘need’ to travel unless we’re doing so for the government or at least producing wealth they can take a portion of. We have no need to protect ourselves; that’s what the police are for. And we especially have no right to privacy. We should just stay where we are, take the courses they assign us, do the job we’re given, keep our heads down and our mouths shut. Those of us that are allowed to live that is. A bit depressing, isn’t it?

      • Dutch
        October 31, 2012 at 7:53 pm

        Two words: On-Star.

  5. John G.
    October 30, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Very nice history lesson, Eric. Thank you for it!

    Yep, it will be a wondrous, wonderful world once we get the government out of the way. And, such is inevitable, as the beast will soon collapse under its own weight.

    C’mon Greek parliament, push the first domino next week!

  6. Justin
    October 31, 2012 at 12:44 am

    You might save some gas in a Geo Metro, but when some soccer mom in her Tahoe or a illegal immigrant in his 75 Caprice runs into you, odds are , you aint gonna be breathing no mo. You gonna be dead.

    • dom
      October 31, 2012 at 1:13 am

      You’re right.. Why stop the stream of excellent logic though? We should all just stay home curled up in a corner with a helmet on and shaking in fear of just the thought!

    • October 31, 2012 at 5:11 am

      I’ve been driving for 40 years. I haven’t been hit by a Tahoe or a Caprice yet. It’s not something I worry about very much. Then again I’m partial to power failures because they tend to knock out traffic lights. It makes for a much smoother and safer commute.

      • Mithrandir
        October 31, 2012 at 12:42 pm

        It is somewhat ironic that people pay more attention to their driving (and surroundings) when the traffic signals are not working.

        There are probably more signals than needed. When the lights were out in my community, police were only sent to some intersections for directing traffic.

      • November 1, 2012 at 6:15 pm

        In 2010, I drove in a post-seizure epileptic fugue state…and I managed to drive 7 miles through the Northern California mountains in my xion xa and then drive off a 200 foot cliff at 70 mph…I had removed the drivers seat headrest earlier in the day for some reason, and had not replaced it as yet…the car flipped about 8 times (I am told) and I was flung out the back drivers-side window after having been ripped through the little slot that was created between my belted body and the missing headrest…the car was absolutely crushed on the outside after they retrieved it with a crane from the floor of the canyon…but I survived with a broken back in several spots, a broken neck in several spots, six broken ribs and a shattered tailbone…along with a 19 staple gash in my head/brain…I walked out of the hospital 6 days after the accident, of which I recall zip…nada…nothing..Ha! But I went out and bought another xa for my wife (I don’t drive anymore)..and they are dependable, spunky little cars…

        Regards,

        RJ O’Guillory
        Author-
        Webster Groves-The Life of an Insane Family

    • liberranter
      October 31, 2012 at 5:19 am

      Maybe. But rather than outlaw/ban something like a Geo Metro, I wonder why Our Overlords don’t use more of their powers of police state persuasion (sorry about the alliteration) to clamp down on brainless soccer moms who don’t know how to handle the oversized vehicles that they INSIST on driving. (Believe me, this is a very sore subject that I could write a three-part rant about!)

      • October 31, 2012 at 10:11 am

        Ditto.

        As a biker, this is a big one for me. We’re even more vulnerable than people operating small cars. I’ve almost been whacked too many times to count by (typically) a “mom” in her preposterously oversized SmoooooVeee. Blowing through an intersection after the light has turned red. Suddenly – without signaling – turning left in front of me. Waddling over into the lane I’m in… invariably, on her sail fawn.

        • October 31, 2012 at 5:44 pm

          …out here in California…I noticed an old VW Thing just the other day…talk about basic transportation…probably good mileage as well…do you think they dropped those for the same “reasons”…

          Regards,

          RJ O’Guillory
          Author-
          Webster Groves-The Life of an Insane Family

          • October 31, 2012 at 5:49 pm

            The Thing… I owned one once (’73).

            Built on the Beetle chassis, with the same running gear – so drives and behaves very much like the Beetle only you’ve got more room inside and a more versatile layout.

            Emissions and safety regs. exiled the old VWs from these shores. IIRC the last one available was the 1979 Beetle convertible. However, VW continued to crank them out in Mexico until circa 2000.

        • liberranter
          October 31, 2012 at 7:49 pm

          Waddling over into the lane I’m in… invariably, on her sail fawn.

          Y’know, as much as I loathe the very concept of prohibitive statutes, I’ve reached the point where I want to see a penalty of PUBLIC FLOGGING, at a minimum, applied to anyone caught driving and texting/chatting/websurfing on their “sail fawns.” It would be one thing if these human speed bumps demonstrated an ability to control a vehicle while multitasking (most cannot do so under even the most benign conditions when their attention is NOT distracted elsewhere), but as long as the majority behave like the irresponsible and inattentive asshat idiots that they are, they shouldn’t be focused on anything but the road.

          • October 31, 2012 at 8:13 pm

            It is tempting… but then, we’d be Clovers, too.

            There are people who can multi-task behind the wheel. I can’t justify subjecting them to hassles for no other reason than other people can’t multi-task and won’t self-police by waiting until they’re stopped to yarble on dey sail fawns.

            Hard cases make bad law.

          • Jean
            June 4, 2013 at 8:37 pm

            More meant as a reply to eric:
            The old saw is hard cases make bad law.
            I don’t think that’s necessarily true, though – I believe it’s a symptom of the same distortion we see elsewhere.

            So, if there’s an accident involving a bike, caused by someone else – the penalty is the same injury inflicted on the causal driver. Normal caveat would be, you got pushed into the other lane – then, you’re not responsible for the damages – the primary cause IS responsible. for bikes, I’d be far harsher – we may not ever know what happened. Or that something did happen. And while I made my choice to be an “organ donor” there – I did NOT make a choice to be someone else’s speed bump.
            In a car, the rule would be the same – but the penalties likely less severe.

            You are proximate cause? You pay the price. If we have to go looking, that’s life for us – but it won’t be so good for you.

            Also, there’s no “suspicion of” in there: No accident – even if it’s because we got lucky, I could move onto the shoulder, etc – no fine of any sort. Theory being, we will let the law of averages catch up to you eventually.

            Now: What did I leave out? i canbe short-sighted – what are the holes in the plan?

  7. Michael
    October 31, 2012 at 4:27 am

    I had a “Chevy Sprint” the predecessor of the Metro, the best car I ever owned… Used it to earn a living for YEARS, and I could repair it. WE CAN’T HAVE that, oh and it AVERAGED 58MPG over the last 5 years of it’s life. AND it had Air Conditioning! Car got better mileage than my current motorcycle.

    • October 31, 2012 at 10:21 am

      Hi Mike,

      Yup.

      It’s not rocket science. The car just needs to be light. The Sprint/Metro weighed well under 1,800 lbs. That’s the key to high gas mileage. Even the Old Beetle managed 30s – despite it being a crude/ancient design, with a carbureted engine and no overdrive gearing. Because it was light.

      New cars are all heavy. There isn’t one that weighs less than 2,000 lbs – and the majority weight well over 2,500 lbs. This includes “compacts,” incidentally.

      And why do they weight so much?

      To a very great extent, because the only way to meet federal crash standards is by adding mass to the vehicle.

      Thus, we are force-fed “safe” cars that eat far more fuel than they otherwise would.

      • liberranter
        October 31, 2012 at 7:52 pm

        I’m admittedly not the most literate person in the sciences, but I HAVE to believe that sufficient advances in metallurgy have been made over the last few decades that lightweight cars can be built that offer at least some of the durability of the heavier weight cars without adding to the overall mass.

        • Dutch
          October 31, 2012 at 8:05 pm

          True. Airplanes are proof of this. Their thin composite bodies bear stresses far beyond what a car would face even in a bad accident.

          The issue is resources. Many of the strongest most lightweight composites are petroleum based. A few sheets of nylon or polyester, bound with a liquid polymer and cured, can create an insanely strong composite. The problem is if we start making cars out of oil then we’re really not going to save on fuel costs, as we will be competing with a huge new market for petroleum. Similarly composite metal alloys have limitations and scarcity issues that make it difficult to compete with iron and steel at market price.

          Nonetheless your point is still well made. Nothing is impossible, this is just the ‘right now’ reality. The answer may just take more support and development. Perhaps in lieu of developing dangerous batteries and heavy, sluggish hybrid drive motors…

          • methylamine
            November 1, 2012 at 3:24 am

            The real problem with composites, including the uber-strong and utterly wonderful carbon fiber, is cost.

            I still revere with absolute awe the very best supercar yet made; superior to the Enzo and the Veyron. Not as quick or fast as the Veyron, but infinitely better-handling because it’s LIGHT–the damn thing only weighs 2300 pounds!

            What’s this miracle car? The McLaren F1; 2300 lbs, 627bhp from its 6-liter BMW V-12. 242mph, I forget the zero to sixty but it’s quicker than you can read this sentence.

            Insane. Utterly delectable. I’d give both testicles and wear a testosterone patch to own one.

            Here’s the best part: Gordon Murray, it’s chief designer–and I might add, a fellow ex-South African–has developed a new carbon fiber technology that’s cheap to build.

            I don’t know the full details, but basically instead of hand-laying alternating layers of carbon fiber, it uses mold injection. As the mold is injected with a thick slurry of carbon fibers and epoxy resin, the flow orients the fibers in the desired directions.

            It’s not quite as strong/light as hand-laid carbon fiber…

            …on the other hand, the McLaren cost a cool $1million when new in 1992.

          • methylamine
            November 1, 2012 at 3:25 am

            Correction:

            its chief designer, NOT
            it’s.

            I hate that mistake. “It’s” = “It is”, “its” = possession.

        • October 31, 2012 at 8:10 pm

          Certainly – but then the issue becomes one of economics. For example, consider an F1 race car. Very, very safe – also very very expensive. Composites (carbon fiber, for example) could give us lightweight, high-mileage and safe cars. But not cheaply.

          There’s the rub….

        • Jean
          June 4, 2013 at 8:45 pm

          Not a question of metallurgy.
          Airbags.
          ABS.
          Crumple zones.
          Composites.
          More electronics.

          THEN, metallurgy.
          Aluminum engine: Larger block to cool better without damage to the block.
          Different bore.
          Different weight characteristics.
          Different gearing.

          Engineer calls for titanium, that’s too expensive, send it to the second-stringers: Second string comes back with some nickel-aluminum-tungsten alloy that’s 3X the size, but fits in the allotted space, Cheaper (by like a nickel) to buy and form, has a life of 5 years, after which it’ll degrade the car and it’s cheaper to replace the car than the piece…
          It adds up.

          Most of it is STUPID. It doesn’t actually accomplish the goal, or at most is marginal – but it’s CLAIMED to be the second coming of Christ. And the sheeple eat it up.

          I think the BEST innovation is cruise control, and the BEST situation for it, I wouldn’t have been able to use it anyway. Driving back from Utica Valley, upstate NY: Left just before a snowstorm, trying to make it to NJ for the work day the next day. Had to hold the gas pedal JUST right in the 2000 (? Maybe earlier?) 3800 Buick LeSabre. Left @ 7 PM or so; arrived @ 3 AM or so. My knee wasn’t right for about 9 months. But couldn’t do cruise control in that weather, I would’ve been dead. :-P BTW, top speed was about 35 MPH. Afraid to stop and get snowed in. ;-)

          I did Ok, though – I was late leaving because the LOCALS I was seeing had a small accident, and ended up in the ditch.
          (No, not clovers…. Worse. Something in the water up there, drops the IQ to like 90 or less. )

  8. Kulak's Comrade Collective
    October 31, 2012 at 7:18 am

    How about that best government money can buy? Everything they touch turns to a steaming err…uh pile of gold.

  9. Glen2Gs
    October 31, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Think I may have a way out of this morass, at least for me…I’m building a Lotus 7 (a.k.a. Locost 7) with a 1 ltr. Geo Metro engine (5sp. out of a Suzuki Samurai)
    Weighs less than 1000lbs, great Gas Mileage AND Fun to drive!
    Just have to keep an eye out for High School Kids in brand new Ford F250 4×4′s (raised 4 feet of the ground)….That’s part of the Down Side of living in Texas.

    • methylamine
      October 31, 2012 at 3:53 pm

      Oh excellent! I’ve looked at some kits, which one are you using (if any)?

      Please share some details.

      • Glen2Gs
        October 31, 2012 at 5:25 pm

        No Kit…(That’s Half the Fun, trying to come up with your own solutions to problems)
        Being a bit of a Heretic..I’ve moved away from the standard spaceframe used by most builders to a “Y Shaped Backbone” like the 1962-75 Lotus Elan.

        If you are interested, check out the locostusa.com website as well as sevenesque.com

  10. October 31, 2012 at 8:39 am

    The government emmissions standards are another part. The same car in Europe (VW Passat/Jetta diesel) will get better fuel economy because there isn’t as big a catalytic converter on it. In fact, the only emmissions test done in Slovakia for diesels is the amount of blackness of the exhaust!

  11. Tinny
    October 31, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Don’t forget about me! I’m a 2003 manual 5-speed Echo that Mrs. B bought used in ’05 when she realized her daughter’s middle school was going to be a 32-mile round trip every day. I have over 118K on me now, but still get about 40 mpg around town. Mrs B calls me her little sippy cup, and says I’m small enough to hitch to a horse when the time comes!

  12. Dave Webb
    October 31, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Do away with the EPA. That is the first step.
    Do away with foreigners telling us what to do. That is the UN. Kick them out of the country.
    Throw all the laws restricting our car manufacturers off the books.
    Untie them from antitrust and let them work together towards a better engineered car.

  13. damon
    October 31, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    I had a CRX, and SI. 1.3 Litre 4 banger, with a 5 speed. It got over 50 mph on the highway on extended trips. Frickin pocket rocket too.

    The only downside was the repair cost. I was rear ended twice. Each instance cost a minimum of 3K. God, I do miss that car.

  14. Doug
    October 31, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    In the late 70s and early 80s I had a diesel engine Volkswagen Rabbit. The original owner had equipped it with an extra tank, so it held 20 gallons. It got 45MPG around town, 50 on the open road. And I took a lot of road trips in those days. It would go 1,000 miles on a fillup, and with diesel around 85 cents a gallon, a fillup cost $17.

  15. October 31, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    My daily driver is a 2000 VW beetle diesel. I have averaged just over 50mpg for the last year driving about 600 miles per week. The car is 13 years old and the technology, probably 20.

  16. October 31, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    On the highway, my old AMC Spirit (232, 2 bbl, 3 speed manual flooshift) would routinely average 28 mpg. I banged up over 100k miles on that car, which was given to me by a friend in 1988. Just sold it earlier this year.

    My other faves (besides AMC’s) were the 78-80 Ford Fiesta. Light, cheap, 1.6 2 bbl and 4 speed manual. Typically got 33-35 on the highway, and they disassembled quickly with 10mm and 13 mm wrenches. Super simple to work on. The Fiesta, while it was cheap, was much better built than the Geo Metro I had later. I saw more than a few wrecked Metro’s in junkyards — they weren’t pretty. The Fiesta had an all-welded construction and thus was a tougher structure. On mild wrecks at least the passenger compartment remained intact.

    The Fiesta boasted only 85 or so ponies — which doesn’t sound like much until you consider how light the car was — they were still quick enough.

    I always wondered what kind of mileage the Fiesta would get with a modern small injected engine of about 1 litre. Or even a modern small diesel.

    I’d bet 85 to 100 mpg would be easy.

    • Pat
      October 31, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      How about riding around in luxury for 30MPG with a V8 engine? Best kept secret: 1994 Cadillac Seville – 30 mpg on the highway – if I keep the speed at 65 or less. My favorite car ever – bought it for $900. Also, does anyone remember the 55 mph speed limit? I say bring it back – or at least 60 – phenomenal the diff in mileage just by driving smart, keeping tires aired up, etc

      • MPP249
        November 4, 2012 at 11:04 pm

        You could still drive 55 or 60 without the government ordering you to. Just keep it in the right lane. No need to force it on everybody else.

  17. Downrange
    October 31, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Nice article and thread here! Just a couple of points – first, the problem, as correctly stated by Eric, is Statism. We have this huge octopus strangling our entire economy – the choices should be available — air bags or no, extra reinforcement or no, modern diesel engines or no, etc. But the nanny state MUST have the power to make choices FOR us, since, we, the voters, keep putting them back into power. They are acting on the direct request of each voter to ensure we do not have to take responsibility for choosing to be “unprotected,” as that would relieve the state of the need to keep acting “in our interest.”

    This whole thing has just grown completely out of control, and voting is how we got here, folks. (Just a friendly reminder that you have the option of “withdrawing your sanction” next week by NOT VOTING, especially on national issues, which they give you NO CHOICE about, anyway.)

    On the overpopulation issue Tinsley raised, I say good point. We are in global overshoot mode, due to the surplus energy (oil) boom and global distribution system improvements, coupled with State and NGO “encouragement” deliberately focused upon the poorest countries to create conditions for overbreeding. This will, barring some major energy discoveries, be a largely self-limiting problem. Over the next century, the planet may lose a third to a half of its present population – a good thing, Meth!

    Finally, it’s certainly a very good point that that Geo might not protect you in a crash with a larger vehicle, just as people on two-wheeled conveyances also have nothing to protect them, but the more important point is that the individual has the absolute RIGHT to take that risk. And it is a risk, agreed – I wouldn’t choose to ride a bike regularly with traffic – no way – but I strongly endorse every person’s right to take that risk. Or to drive a smaller car – unfortunately, we’ve legislated those into the dustbin of history.

  18. John in IN
    October 31, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Every time you write about this Geo Metro it makes me furious. Why cant we have this car today? What’s the closest thing available today that’s non hybrid?

    • October 31, 2012 at 4:57 pm

      Hi John,

      We can’t have them for all the reasons discussed in the article. In order to make cars “safe” – that is, to meet government’s definition of “safe” – cars have been made heavier than they once were. Much heavier. As a result, they need larger, more consumptive engines to move them along.

      Probably the closest thing to the Metro in a new car is a Mazda2 or Ford Fiesta. Unfortunately, they’re about 10-15 MPG less fuel efficient and cost considerably more (in real terms) than the Metro did.

  19. Hal
    October 31, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    With todays technology and materials these type of cars could be getting 100+ mpg easily. But the federal czars have made innovation illegal…

    • liberranter
      October 31, 2012 at 7:58 pm

      Exactly. Hence my comment earlier about there being sufficient advances in metallurgy that durability versus metal weight/mass SHOULDN’T, one would think, really be an issue anymore in terms of vehicle safety.

  20. Bob Robertson
    October 31, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I drove a 1981-ish Honda Civic station wagon that got milage in the 40s and was a SCREAMING speed machine.

    For that matter, a diesel VW Rabbit would spin its tires starting out from a stoplight if I wasn’t careful.

    These were fun, inexpensive cars that did what fun, inexpensive cars were built to do: move.

    SO of course they had to be prohibited.

    • MoT
      October 31, 2012 at 5:00 pm

      Hahahahaha! I remember my dads old 76 Civic and how we regularly got 40mpg with that baby. It was a fun fun fun car to drive! It was the car I learned to drive in. A standard transmission that taught me how to shift and pay attention. Our family of four would cram into it and take off on short trips and come back with a load of groceries. Even then my old man would rib his co-workers about how cheaply the thing ran. I loved it and miss it to this day.

      • liberranter
        October 31, 2012 at 8:01 pm

        My ’85 Honda Civic Standard hatchback, 4-speed manual, which I bought brand new as soon as I got back to the States from my first overseas assignment, averaged almost 40 MPG on the highway for almost all of the 15 years I had it. If it hadn’t just “given up the ghost” from old age (only in its last five years did I start having to spend a lot of money and time on repairs), I’d still be driving it today.

        • liberranter
          October 31, 2012 at 8:02 pm

          And, of course, it was the best damned car I’ve ever owned. (Admittedly that’s not saying much, as I’ve only owned six cars in my adult life. I’m one of these “drive’em till they fall apart” guys.)

        • MoT
          November 2, 2012 at 1:29 am

          Now there! Don’t you see… We’ve had good cars that were fun, economical, and as “safe” as the driver behind the wheel. Usually that is. I’ve had my share of dogs over the years but I usually live a sort of “used car” life. As soon as they give me fits they get tossed. All told I’ve had about a dozen vehicles pass through my hands and not a new one in the lot. Actually, having lived in Japan, I can say when I never owned one I didn’t miss them either. Horses for courses.

  21. PaulB
    October 31, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    I owned a Geo Metro with standard transmission, put 90k miles on it. It routinely delivered 62mpg on the highway until the cat went bad, then it dropped to 55mpg. For those who claim it was not crashworthy enough, I had dents in every panel except the roof, a couple from fairly serious accidents, and got off without a scratch. I know, it’s anecdotal…

    For years I have wanted to import a diesel VW Lupo capable of over 70mpg. I even wrote my Senators asking why I couldn’t have this car. No luck…

    My old 97 VW Passat diesel delivers 50mpg when driven carefully. I will keep it until the wheels fall off. I can’t see why new cars have to be so heavy; Honda Civics at 2800 lbs! Govt. “protecting” us from ourselves, I guess.

    • Doug
      October 31, 2012 at 6:17 pm

      Why do you think you can’t have this car – because those self-serving, lying, bastards won’t let you. That’s why.
      I was going to import a Lupo GTI but the problem is parts. The windscreen is not shared with other VW models as well as other pieces which are difficult to get.
      If you want an economical car, wait for the Diesel UP!. Fuck the US Government! If you really want one, you can get it in. I brought in 3 non-DOT cars while I was still living there. There are ways to do it but the cost, time and paperwork is probably not worth it to you.

  22. Glen2Gs
    October 31, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    @ Downrange
    …” they give you NO CHOICE about, anyway.)”

    So Sad..and So True, not “a Dimes worth of Difference” between the two clowns.

    But, Rather than Not Voting…Vote for NONE OF THE ABOVE….

    How? By Voting 3rd party (since our Main Stream Propagandists would have us think that the D’s and R’s are the ONLY Game in Town) Every 3rd party vote tells “The Powers that Be” that some of us are still AWAKE AND AWARE

  23. Fred
    October 31, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    I wouldn’t mind having back my ’83 Chevette. Friends made fun of it but all that little car ever did was just go.

  24. Werner
    October 31, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Years ago I purchased a new 2-door Pontiac Firefly just for daily commutes to and from work. In the summer it would achieve close to 70 miles to the Imperial gallon when taken on the highway. It had a one litre 3 cylinder engine and a five speed manual. It was very easy to drive and rarely ever required downshifting from 5th on the highway, except for very long hills.

    There were some drawbacks: Two leaking head gaskets and a heater which NEVER managed to get the interior warm when the temp dropped to more than minus 10 Celsius. It was also the only car I ever purchased which had all the interior plastic become brittle after about the third winter – the door cladding fell of all by itself in strips and patches and the seats too so it needed seat covers.

    Sadly enough I had to get rid of it and managed to get a few hundred bucks on a trade-in…

    The concept though was very good – it was peppy and great fun to drive!

  25. dan
    October 31, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    corvairs and VW’s until a 1985 50mpg Escort (Ford/Mercury with a 2L. diesel Masda 4cyl. and 5spd. manual)that had a HEATER.

  26. agneaux
    October 31, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    I still get up to 41 mpg on the highway with my ’79 Citroen CX 2500D (4-cyl. diesel) here in California. And it’s a full-sized 4-dr sedan. About 31 mpg around town. Of course, it has no airbags and no crumple zones, etc., so I try not to drive it on the highway during heavy traffic times. For that, I use my ’97 Mustang GT which gets (ahem) “slightly less” mpg (“up to” 16/24)… but it has two airbags, so I’ll be “safe” when I get run over by the semi…

  27. Mal Reynolds
    October 31, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    Does anyone know if these light, good mileage cars are available in the rest of the world or has the gubmint regulations cast their shadow on the rest of the market as well? Me thinks that emerging markets cannot afford expensive cars and expensive gas.

    Mal

    • November 1, 2012 at 10:01 am

      People in “second world” (and “third world”) countries still have access to very inexpensive, basic cars that make even the Metro seem like a Cadillac. India, for instance.

      Now, those cars would likely be too basic for the US market. But an updated Metro (with a modern six-speed manual and port fuel injection) would I suspect be received with great enthusiasm here. Such a car would be capable of averaging 50-plus MPG and (if it didn’t have to have air bags and comply with all the federal crashworthiness stuff) could be sold for less than $10,000 brand new.

  28. Quentin
    November 1, 2012 at 1:33 am

    These cars aren’t built because the only people that would buy them are posting right here… and you’d buy an old Metro over it anyway because it is cheaper and easier to work on. Most people care more about air bags than they do about saving a couple hundred bucks a year in fuel. Gas is still not expensive enough to reverse that.

    • gray man
      November 1, 2012 at 3:19 am

      I don’t know anyone who gives a crap about airbags.

      • JvG
        November 2, 2012 at 12:49 am

        My then 19 year old son hit a large stone on an old historic highway. It broke one of his wheels. That sent him out of control at 30 mph. He hit a bridge abutment dead center. The car wrapped around the bridge.

        The car was a 1991 VW Passat. It was a mid-sized, well built car. It did not have air bags. He always wore his seat belt. (personal responsibility. The car collapsed around the bridge. Yet the passenger compartment remained intact. (thank you NHTSA and VW Corp. Due to the seat belt, he was able to open the door and walk away from the car with a sore chest.

        Air bags can make a difference for those who do not want to wear the seat belts I suppose.

        The Passat wieghed less than 3000 lbs. It was very roomy, had good power for a 4 banger. It got 30 MPG.

    • BrentP
      November 1, 2012 at 4:23 am

      When the inflation started spiking gas prices in GWB second term I saw a lot of old high mpg cars appear on the road out of nowhere. They have since disappeared.

      Regardless of my observations the problem is that we don’t know if people would buy them in significant numbers or not because the government interference makes it impossible to know. The fact that automakers keep trying to build these cars in spite of the mandates should say something about the market even with CAFE. The fact they existed in the past, in the good old days, should say something as well.

      Also people are buying ‘smart’ cars and they aren’t cheap either.

    • November 1, 2012 at 9:52 am

      Quentin,

      Really? Then how do you explain the fact of their persistent popularity for most of the history of the automobile? Why were people still buying old Beetles in huge numbers as recently as the 1970s, even though the car was by then a 40-year-old design?

      If “most people care more about air bags” then why did they have to be mandated? Did you know that when air bags were first offered as an option, they didn’t sell? They failed in the marketplace – unlike affordable, high-mileage, airbag-free cars.

      • Neil Larkins
        November 1, 2012 at 10:52 pm

        “as recently as the 1970s”? How about today? People still search for restorable V-dubs even though their production stopped (except for Mexico) in the early 90s. Those bugs can’t be brought over to the U.S., but the engines, trannys, etc. can be. There is also a huge market for repro parts: body parts, axles, you name it. Pick up a copy of “Hot VWs” and see.

        • November 1, 2012 at 11:19 pm

          Hi Neil,

          Yup! I’ve begun seeing a fair number of old VWs in use as daily drivers in my area lately. They’re not restored trailer queens. These are “drivers” – driven by people who remember what a good small car was like and know you’ve got to turn the pages back a bit to get into one.

  29. Ross Nelson
    November 1, 2012 at 6:29 am

    As a Geo Metro owner, I can verify everything Eric says. It’s surprisingly reliable, too. When I bought it nearly new in the mid-90s, had I even a hint of how great a car it would be, I’d have gotten two. Now most of the Metros are pretty well used up, which is a crying shame.

  30. Craig
    November 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Can relate to this article. I had an Audi 4000 diesel (VW engine) in the 1980′s with manual transmission. Built like a small tank but still got 50 mpg consistently. It’s amazing how the car companies toot the 30+ mpg cars like there were something special. Maybe they are these days….

  31. Ming the Merciless
    November 1, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    I had a Chevy Sprint too…way better than the Geo Metro…you could see the decline starting…the metro had much worse mileage and 30% LESS room inside…the wife could pack incredible amounts of stuff inside for the flea market and get EIGHTY miles to the gallon on the highway…she drove around all week on five gallons of gas!
    Moreover the Sprint was very agile and quick, just like a sport car…you changed gears with ONE finger on the stick!

    The Obamamites and his big government predecessors really destroyed this country…the whole place will soon look just like Buffalo, New York or Detroit Michigan…too bad, the USA used to be just like heaven…now with the coming O’Bummer’s riots, it will be pure hell…I hope them hunters bag a hundred of these enviro-nazi hippies each!

  32. Neil Larkins
    November 1, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    The answer: Stop expecting the guberment to force car makers to remake the Geo. Get off your lazy patoot and make one yourself. There is a too-small contingent of people out in the hinterlands who are doing exactly that and have been for years. One recent example: The MAX featured in The Mother Earth News, designed and built by Jack MacCornack. The result? Fully legal, licensed, roadworthy and sporty two-seater. 100 mpg on diesel @55 plus mph. All off-the-shelf components or easily built parts by anyone with average buildng skills and a moderately-equipped shop. Plans are available for nearly nothin’ and a lot is free. Don’t even have to do it Jack’s way. Google it. (Other examples but don’t have the time to give them. Besides, you can do the research just like I did.)

    • clark
      November 1, 2012 at 10:07 pm

      Neil L. wrote, “Get off your lazy patoot and make one yourself. … All off-the-shelf components or easily built parts by anyone with average buildng skills and a moderately-equipped shop.”

      That’s not making a car, that’s assembling one. Big Dif.

      Peter Drucker comes to mind, was that the name of the last guy before Delorian to try and create a car? As I recall, Drucker was stopped at every other turn by gunverment. It was as if he were selling raw milk or something, eh?

      Also, profit is important, or at least not going broke or wasting money is, for most. Do the people out in the hinterlands make a profit or are they breaking even or worse when they assemble these cars?

      Is this the MAX?:

      “We bought a Kubota industrial engine that looked like it would be a good place to start, and dropped it in a Locost “book” chassis we keep around for just this sort of thing.”

      http://www.kineticvehicles.com/XPrizeIntro.html

      • Neil Larkins
        November 1, 2012 at 10:33 pm

        That’s it. Not talking about making cars for sale, tho. Whole different animal making – assembling – a car for oneself. Whole different set of laws apply in most states. (3-wheelers are usually licensed as motorcycles.) MacCornack has driven MAX all over the place (licensed and smogged in Oregon, tough state on emissions) without incident. His entire journey of how he built it is available on the Mother Earth News website or his own site. Not easy and, as I said, not for everyone, but totally do-able and legal for those who want. Thanks for the research.

    • Neil Larkins
      November 1, 2012 at 10:22 pm

      Oops. Forgot to add: $10,000 to build a MAX. Many could do it for a lot less and have. No AC, no power anything (windows, etc.)…but neither did the basic GEOs. Build it as a 3-wheeler, like what R.Q. Riley offers in the XR-3, and no emissions check in most states. And still 100+ mpg at up to 85mph or more. Google that too. Get busy, folks. Take control of your life. Sure, a lot of people can’t do it this way, but plenty can. Just a matter of shaping your own destiny. And you’re not breaking any laws.

      • clark
        November 2, 2012 at 3:26 pm

        Maybe use one of those new fancy 3-D printers to print out enough plastic parts to make a car? That would be cool.

        *Note to webmaster:
        How about installing one of those expanding X’s at the bottom of the ‘What’s Happening’ comment box?

  33. Lee
    November 2, 2012 at 12:57 am

    How does the Smart Car get by the safety regulations? Does anyone know? BTW Eric, I love your articles. I read them every time I come across them on LewRockwell. I learn things from you about cars that I never knew.

    • November 2, 2012 at 9:44 am

      Hi Lee,

      The Smart is startlingly heavy (1,800 lbs.) given how tiny it is: 1,800 lbs. – which is about 200 pounds heavier than the Geo Metro mentioned in the article – and the Geo could carry 4-5 people while the Smart is a two seater (driver and passenger) with virtually no cargo/storage space. It also has (IIRC) six air bags: Driver and front seat passenger, side/curtain and knee.

  34. Tim
    November 2, 2012 at 5:03 am

    I have my Suzuki 4 cylinder 1.4l engine plastic interior hatchback. weighing about 2000lbs. 50 mpg fuel economy, driving in city, goose and coast. In China, this all-fit version costs $8000.

    • November 2, 2012 at 9:28 am

      Hi Tim,

      That sounds like the ticket – what model Suzuki is this?

  35. R Hurst
    November 2, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Who would have thought that the lowly Geo Metro Would have sparked such an intelligent conversation. Cudos to all who have expressed themselves so eloquently.
    Thank Allah that that the American citizens are finally waking up.

    • November 2, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      The Illusion

      America shimmers, losing shape,
      lost souls, the weakest generation.
      Democracy stumbles, people awaken,
      trouble on America’s plantation.

      America stands strong and free,
      a land of life and liberty?
      Indentured servants, ever on,
      from sea to shining sea.

      Laws for this, laws for that,
      control of the air you breathe.
      Nanny State, exploding prisons,
      Stalinist tits, on which we teethe.

      House and Senate, bought and sold,
      mortgaged by corporate donations.
      Court Supremes, selling their soul,
      torture’s cool, but do it in other nations.

      Traitors act, as though elected,
      a free and fair republic?
      Lying thieves, electronic frauds,
      in office to cheat the public.

      Bankers steal, Pelosi jets,
      stimulating this and that.
      Leadership so corrupt, so brutal,
      little need to trim the fat.

      China profits, Brazil prospers,
      around us the world grows.
      Bush and Clinton, hold their power,
      JFK? Oh, no one knows?

      It’s falling apart, not so funny,
      at least I’m close to passing.
      Before the riots, the martial law,
      before Obama starts the gassing.

      Long before the troops deploy,
      during all the eff’d confusion.
      Lucky enough, simply to know,
      our lives were just an illusion.

      RJ O’Guillory
      Author-
      Webster Groves-The Life of an Insane Family

  36. stanley hutchinson
    November 2, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    That’s a bunch of crock. The Dick Cheney when he was in office lobbied to keep all these HIGH MPG cars out of U.S., there is an unwritten rule that they cannot advertise or import cars that get over 50 MPG. In Europe you can get Honda Accord / aka Acura TL diesel 68 MPG, Honda CRV diesel 50 mpg, VW Golf diesel hybrid 70 mpg, VW Passat diesel 78 mpg (BTW made in U.S. but must be exported), Ford Focus Eco diesel 68 MPG (also made in U.S. but must be exported) ALL TO PROTECT PROFITS OF BIG 7 SISTER OIL COMPANIES AND ROAD TAX, so that say. Crooked politicians let THE DICK CHENEY do it to Screw U.S. Consumers, they want you to drive GAS HOGGING, GAS GUZZLING SUV’S SUBURBANS, AND EXPEDITIONS THAT GET 15 MPG, AND FULL SIZE PICKUPS. That’s what it’s all about. Write your Congressman or call them and tell them you want 202-221-3121 that is Congress switch board. and ask for your House Rep and Senator.

  37. Werner
    November 2, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    I read a newspaper story about a concept car VW introduced recently at a car show in Europe. It’s called the VW Cross Coupe. Interestingly enough the specs are: Hybrid style battery pack, a very small turbocharged diesel engine charging the batteries, front wheels driven by one 70hp electric motor, rear wheels driven by another 70hp electric motor – this makes it an all wheel drive vehicle! Most amazing: Mileage is 1.6 liters of diesel per 100 km! VW Cross Coupe. Picture shows a nicely styled vehicle for 4 passengers.

  38. Blueeeyes
    November 5, 2012 at 7:02 am

    The dirty little secret; if you say this the name calling starts..

    That’s key. Welfare and the rest is about creating dependency and stopping upward mobility.

  39. November 5, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    What a great post that really shocked me. My uncle is a good hard worker and a great auto repair guy, he ALWAYS drove a Geo Metro. Now I know why. Who cares that the car was smaller, he was obviously always the smart one pulling in 50mpg’s before the Prius fanfare. Now that I’m looking to consider buying a Prius I feel like a good after reading this post. Thanks for opening my eyes, it’s amazing how what was old is new but just with shinier and flashier parts.

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