Tricks My Dad Taught Me
By SAM SMITH
I recently took a road trip to Saratoga Springs, N.Y., to attend a wedding and my wife and I had the good fortune to leave the kids and kidmobile at home and take a 1979 MGB. It was a beautiful ride across New Hampshire and Vermont and 500 miles later that little LBC delivered us back to Maine at 32 MPG!
One neat feature this car has is a vacuum gauge so I could watch the needle go from economy to power when I put my foot down.
While driving, I started thinking of all the tips my dad used to share with us kids about getting the best mileage from a car.
“Keep the motor in top-notch tune.”
“Use higher octane gasoline, the engine will run easier and give more power.”
“Check the tire pressures weekly and over inflate them a little bit.”
“Make sure the brakes are in good working order, no dragging your feet.”
“Keep your speed around 55 MPH.” (darn, what fun is that!)
“Build up momentum going downhill and coast uphill” (Or at least don’t try to power up the hill.)
“Avoid rapid starts and stops.” (Flow through the traffic lights.)
“Avoid hard cornering” (No way I could ever comply with this one.)
My dad had many more, but my all-time favorite was “pretend there’s an egg under the gas pedal.” The teenager said “HUH? I‘d bet dad thought we weren’t listening, but I still like that quote and I even remember to try it from time to time.
With the cost of fuel today I was quite pleased to get about double the gas mileage of the big family vehicle (not to mention the infinitely more smiles per mile). I started thinking about energy costs in general and did a little online research.
Did you know that it takes 50.3 million BTU’s of oil equivalent energy to make a ton of new steel and requires 62,600 gallons of water? (I have no idea why so much water.) But it only takes a quarter of that energy to make one ton of recycled steel versus new.
Following the comparisons, one ton of recycled steel saves 1.4 tons of iron ore and 3.6 barrels of oil. Recycling aluminum is an even better deal as it takes five times the energy to make new aluminum compared to recycled aluminum.
My feeling is that as British car enthusiasts we’re helping the bigger picture by “recycling” these cars and because they’re generally pretty good on miles per gallon we’re also helping reduce our consumption of gasoline. Combined with all of the great benefits of playing with sports cars, this added bonus is a good thing.
So I’m encouraging everyone to keep their cars tuned up and I’m interested in hearing from you about the mileage your cars get. I’m thinking of adding a ignitor and sport coil for that slightly hotter spark, wire wheels or rostyle wheels to reduce the unsprung weight at the wheel and other little racer tricks to improve our enjoyment. I mean reducing our carbon footprint.