I used to do this in the early 90s, and I was a big believer in the 2 paycheck car. Drive it until it dies, and then buy another. I would get into huge arguments with ppl from the other camp who bought the cheapest new car (Metro, Hyundai, etc) and thought that was the best method. Problem was maintenance, since we were all driving the tits off of the cars, they got stuck with huge repair bills when their warranties went out while I would just sell mine off for parts. Plus, as they learned, their cars had no resale value given the mileage and abuse and the fact that the cheapest cars always plummet in value.
Another guy I worked with was using a 70s Jeep Wagoneer. I think he was getting singe digit mpg.
Too bad nobody makes a reliable small diesel here. Back in the day I used my 76 VW Rabbit until I f-ed it up, then I got a 81 VW Dasher diesel SW, got 40+ mpg driving it like I stole it.
What you're looking for is: small, reliable, cheap.
And late 90s+ Hondas, you want a manual for reliability, the automatics from that period are notorious for crapping the bed.
scooter or small bike with a box on the back. That's what Japan and Singapore use.
They have them in the UK as well, it's generally a company vehicle, 50cc puddle jumper with big insulated box on the back. Be okay in summer here, unless you had to go far out of the city.
I remember The RoadWarrior..To understand who he was, you have to go back to another time..the world was powered by the black fuel & the desert sprouted great cities..Gone now, swept away..two mighty warrior tribes went to war & touched off a blaze which engulfed them all. Without fuel, they were nothing..thundering machines sputtered & stopped..Only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage would survive. The gangs took over the highways, ready to wage war for a tank of juice
When I delivered, I found that a 1988-1991 Civic with a B20Z swap was a GREAT delivery vehicle. Fuel economy was actually not as bad as you might think - especially when you consider that being a feather foot is not exactly an asset when competing with other drivers for deliveries. The REALLY nice thing about that big, honking 2.0 liter was that you gave it barely ANY throttle in order for it to get up and go. So it's not like a 1.5 liter where you have the thing floored all the time (which you WILL do when trying to get a pizza out as quickly as you can). I used to get around 27MPG while delivering, which is about all you could hope for with ANY kind of small car when doing this kind of hard-core urban driving. Once again, remember that economy-oriented driving is something you are not likely to stick with in this line of work.
Another nice thing about B-series swaps is that everything is just SO overbuilt compared to the stock single cam motors. After all, these drivetrains are meant for larger, heavier cars. So they are tough as nails. Provided that you keep up on regular maintenace, you can literally pound on a B-series Civic MERCILESSLY and it will still come back for more - even after YEARS.
As for automatics, STAY AWAY! Not only will mileage suffer. But they just don't stand up as well. ESPECIALLY with the kind of rough use that a pizza delivery car is going to get. Then again, if you go with a B-series swap, an automatic transmission really ISN'T possible in most cases.
A friend of mine just got a 2006 Chrysler Sebring convertible for pizza delivery. Swears it's the best thing since sliced bread, only 28K miles and DANG it looks sweet for a pizza delivery vehicle. A V6 will beat a 4 cyl any day.
The Mercury Cougar gets pretty good mileage and if you have a competitive pizza shop a V6 can more than pay for itself with the added power, getting you through the stop light faster than a 4 cyl will. Or go with the B series swap in a light Honda as mentioned before...
Looking to trade for an early 1988 Honda CRX HF (Pillar mounted seat belts)