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Old 09-20-2007, 04:11 AM   #1
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Car shopping: bang for the buck

Or in this case hypermile for the buck.

I'm not sure I even want to mod the Subaru that I have, after pushing it as far as I can imagine right now it still wouldn't be enough to be fun for me. I want an econobox to play with and hotrod, for mileage this time.

So what should I look for? Specific models or should I be looking at a power to weight ratio, aero possibilities, displacement?

I've seen ok escort/golf/metro/etc. around for under $400 that'll make it through inspection and be a good base for building up, and I can see myself spending that much on the Suby and not getting the mileage I want. Plus, the Subaru is a nice respectable car to haul the kids around in, I want something fun.

What's your favorite undervalued, under-appreciated car that has some potential?
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Old 09-20-2007, 06:28 AM   #2
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What are your mpg goals, and what type of driving? (mostly city,mostly highway)
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Old 09-20-2007, 06:34 AM   #3
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Keep an open mind. I always loathed Aerostars until I saw an ad for one with low miles at a low enough price that we had to check it out. I ended up scouring around for about 4 months to get one of the last ones made to replace it when it was getting long in the tooth- unfortunately an errant driver killed it this summer.

For a hotrod hypermiler, an old convertible like a Spitfire in bad need of new mechanicals would be wild. Imagine one of them with ultra high efficiency engine. Consider anything and everything...
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Old 09-20-2007, 06:42 AM   #4
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I'd love to take an old Citroen 2CV or a Honda N600 twin cylinder, and update it with modern closed loop fuel injection. That would boost the mileage a lot from an already high value.
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Old 09-20-2007, 06:43 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oneinchsidehop View Post
What's your favorite undervalued, under-appreciated car that has some potential?
Personally, if my car (Prizm/Corolla) were totaled tomorrow, I'd probably replace it with a ~`99-`00 Saturn SW (small wagon) with no options and a 5-speed. It's only a couple inches longer than what I have, gets better gas mileage, has roughly equivalent reliability and a lot more interior room.

The Suzukiclones are the best you'll get for gassers in the US and have decent reliability, although you'd need to gauge for yourself the relative safety -- not as good as slightly larger cars, but far better than motorcycles.
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Old 09-20-2007, 06:47 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sipnciv View Post
What are your mpg goals, and what type of driving? (mostly city,mostly highway)
Mostly highway, followed by secondary roads (speed limit 50mph, limited passing opportunities for other cars) and a tad of city.

Goals? 60+ highway cruising and 100+ P&G hypermileing. 0-60mph in 3.8... weeks.
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Old 09-20-2007, 07:06 AM   #7
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Tough one. The Suzukiclones pull their best numbers in P&G well below 50 mph. But they're not at all good at steady state 60 mph, where the VX shines.

I've said before my ideal cheap, fuel efficient, ICE car stable would have one 3-pot Suzukiclone, and one Civic VX for the highway trips.
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Old 09-20-2007, 07:17 AM   #8
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I think a VX could fit your bill. You could always get a nice suspension for it and some sticky tires and it would be fun to take corners with, but yet it would still get amazing mileage if you weren't beating on it too horribly.

I don't know if anyone on here has one, but the early 90s Mercury Capri is a two-seater convertible, and I can't imagine the non-turbo'd models got that bad of gas mileage. They are cheap to come by also.
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Old 09-20-2007, 08:54 AM   #9
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If I was in your situation, I'd find an 88-91 CRX shell for a few hundred $ and put a D15Z1 engine from a VX in it. My CRX HF is running too well that I don't think I'll need a new engine for a while, but when it get's tired, I'm definetly looking into putting a VX engine in it.

You'll end up with a car with some great FE potential, and with the Vtec, it also will be relatively quick (the VX has 90hp).

An even better swap might be a VX engine into a 1st generation CRX (84-87), since they weight a few hundred pounds less. I've always thought the 1st generation CRX looked alot better then the 88-91s. This gets a little more complicated as the axles aren't the same and unless you get an SI model you'd have to convert a carburated car to fuel injected. Certainly an 88-91 CRX would be alot simpler.
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Old 09-20-2007, 10:00 AM   #10
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Have you considered a truck? I have an 87 GMC S15 ext cab that has lots of potential, once I can free up money to actually work on it. They are cheap and very plentiful, but aerodynamics aren't that good. Still, a nice diesel under the hood (my ultimate goal) would provide lots of fun power and great fuel economy. And then there is the usefulness of a truck, I don't understand how people can get by without the ability to slam some junk in the back and haul it somewhere else. I've had trees, engines, cinder blocks, you name it in the back of mine, and it was great on the 4th of July when the family loaded up and we idled down to a field outside the football stadium to watch the town fireworks display, we all sat in the back of the truck far from the million candlepower bug attractors the football stadium keeps on.

My own goal is to get it up to 40MPG, which should be too easy with the new, modern diesels slated to come out shortly after low sulfur diesel is mandatory in the US. The minute I see 40MPG 3 tanks in a row, I'll adjust the goal to 50MPG, 60MPG, ect ect. Onward and upward. I even plan to install a smaller 10 gallon fuel cell to keep weight down and still have a 400+ mile range, instead of the 700-800 mile range the existing 18+ gallon tank would have. This is another idea that would work on anybody who has already hyperextended their mileage, instead of hauling a thousand miles worth of gas, cut the tank size and eke out another half MPG.

I've already added Caddy CTS seats to it (they only fit in the ext cab, and then only after the floorpan is replaced to accommodate them) and have been picking up new interior pieces for it to make a comfy environment inside. The interior is really the only thing I can work on right now since the truck has to be available every day, but in a couple of years I'll be able to take it down for several months to properly work it over.

When it's all done I'll have a sharp, efficient, capable little truck, perfectly suited for my needs.
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