Friday, January 16, 2015

Coffee Brake: Feeling Gassy

Welcome to DT's weekly editorial column, where the stiff upper lip and starched shirt atmosphere that pervades the rest of our articles is relaxed and we discuss topics in a casual manner.  Put on your favorite sweatpants, grab a box of Cracklin' Oat Bran, (mmm, love that stuff, good for your spleen too) and enjoy. Today's topic du jour for today's Coffee Brake: Gas is so damn cheap that I want to buy a 700 cubic inch V8 and just let it idle outside my house all day. Later, I'll take a warm bath in a tub full of crude.  What do you want to do with all this cheap gas?



Personally, I'd love to buy this 1967 Buick Skylark Sedan and use it as God (and Buick) intended when it left the factory -- as a daily driver, errand runner, air darkener, and family hauler.  It is an extremely clean car with an (original?) blue paint job and blue interior that looks way too nice for the $7,700 asking price.  Based on a quick mathematical analysis of fuel costs, if you compare this to a used $15k Prius, it would take you 157 years to pay off the Prii cost increase with its fuel savings.  That is 157 years I don't have, so make sure you are never more than 5 miles away from a gas station and give me the Buick!


Sure, the big block would suck down more of Saudi Arabi's finest black gold, but the 340 cubic inch V8 under the hood (that is inexplicably painted from its original Buick red to a Chevy orange) will still drink the good stuff like Keith Richards before a big show.  This small cube engine might not have the instantaneous flow rate of the Bill "The Fox" Foxster big block, but the sheer mass of the 4-door Skylark will mean you've got the pedal mashed to the carpet for 80% of your drive cycle. 


Just look at how nice the interior is!!  What would you buy if gas was going to stay this cheap forever? 

27 comments:

  1. i did the math once on amortizing a Leaf versus keeping the Roadmaster - it was like 3000 years - then again, i basically only drive a mile a day to the bait shop for nightcrawlers, pumpkin seeds and Duff

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  2. You're being too modest with the "midsize" skylark. Give me back my dad's 72 deuce and a quarter. A mile long, one gauge on the dash ( speedometer) and driven with a finger and toe.

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  3. Air Darkener LOL. Seriously though, cars like the E90 M3 suddenly become practical with gas at these prices.

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  4. I'd love to DD that Galaxy Squire Woody Wagon that was on the site last Saturday. I'd add some go fast goodies to the 302, who cares if it gets single digit MPG...

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  5. I'm going to choose to go slightly upmarket and say a Bentley Turbo R

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  6. Replies
    1. No thanks. I drove a M813A1 (similar to this) from NE to LA in support of Hurricane Gustav. And back. By the time we got to Alexandria I wanted to suck-start my 9mm. Suspension like a shopping cart, windshield seals gone (which is nice when you are driving toward a hurricane), and shifting the 5-speed is like sticking a crowbar into a wood-chipper.

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    2. "suck start my 9mm" "shifting the 5-speed is like sticking a crow bar into a wood chipper" Winner and winnerer

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    3. I smell a CoTW award in the offing. At least, I HOPE that is what I am smelling. Otherwise the plumbing vent is blocked again....

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    4. so it's more of an around town ride?

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    5. If you don't like wearing bandoliers of Preparation H suppositories, then yes.

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  7. Fleetwood T. BroughamJanuary 16, 2015 at 12:54 PM

    I want two of my old rides back. Either the 1986 Grand Wagoneer (bought in 1993) with 30k miles and mint condition for $6k----Wagonmaster would charge $50k today) that averaged 10mpg, or my 1985 gray-market Range Rover with the 3.5 V8 and a Holly 800 Carb that got 5-6 mpg around town.

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  8. Not sure it's the best time to buy a gas hog, but definitely a great time to enjoy driving what you already have.

    Personally, my 1994 FZJ80 Land Crusher is being driven now without remorse. I can fill it up for less that $45!!

    The DTM5 sees more full throttle action when it gets exercised as well.

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  9. Seriously, whatever you drive, this is a great time to get in it and take a road trip across the US. I did this back in 1998 when gas was around a buck, even down to 88 cents in rural Georgia. A twenty dollar bill would just about fill the 26-gallon tank of my 1973 Delta 88 Royale Convertible. I figured those days would never be back, but here we are.

    Chebby

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  10. It's about polluting...in the making of it and using it.
    You would have to harden the valve seats of use a lot of lead additive.

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    1. Is that true? I heard the same stories about valve seats on my 1970s 2CV, but almost 40,000 km of operation on unleaded later, there are no signs of valve seat recession.

      I know that BMC motors (Minis) suffered, but what about Detroit Iron from the 60s? Anyone have any real world experience to share?

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    2. I have driven lots of old Detroit iron on lead free gas to very high miles with no problems.
      Here is my thinking:
      1. If the engine was run in it's previous life on leaded fuel the valves are now properly seated and will not have too much additional wear.
      2. The valve or valve seat will only have a problem if the valve runs too hot or engine is under continuous load. That can be caused by things such as retarded timing, running too low octane fuel, lean mixture, pulling a trailer, or running against a very stiff head wind on a long trip. See #3
      3. Run premium fuel as a precaution and you will not regret it. You can also advance the timing a bit and get more power, gas mileage, and cooler combustion.
      4. Just drive the car until the valves or valve seats start to go bad. Then fix it IF they ever go bad.
      5. If you rebuild the engine or pull the heads for other reasons, then yes upgrade the valves and valve seats.

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    3. One more thing... The exhaust valves cool every time they close.
      If you have mechanical lifters the valves must be regularly adjusted because typically as the valve seats and valve surfaces wear the adjustment becomes TIGHT. (little to no gap)
      So what happens if there is no valve adjustment gap the valve will not have a full close.
      Remembering my first statement, the exhaust valves cool when they close. If the valve does not close the valve will run hot and start burning.
      Many people blame unleaded gas when really it was the valve adjustment which most Brit cars require.

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    4. Thanks Rene! I like your analytical approach to the discussion. I lived through the switchover to unleaded in Canada back in the early 80s. I had a Jag Mark 2 at the time, and never encountered a problem.

      Europe only switch over around the year 2000, and I was amused to read all the gloom and doom predictions, and to see all the Snake Oil products that appeared. Fuel catalyzers were big, and there lots of lead substitutes (or worse, actual lead additive, which I personally would not want to handle)

      That was about the same time I acquired my Citroen 2CV, and I opted just to run it on Premium fuel (which it pretty much required anyway) and to monitor the valve lash. 15 years later, I have stopped even thinking about the problem. It does not exist for that car.

      Thanks to you, I now know it is not much of a problem anywhere else either.

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  11. I just drove 1/2 way across the country along I40 in the '98 4Runner... is it weird that despite the cheap gas ($1.69/gal in Oklahoma!) I was still trying to hypermile? Is there something wrong with me?

    FWIW with a 400lb load in the cargo area and 2 pax, we averaged 21.788 MPG over 1631.2 miles.

    Honestly though, fuel prices never bothered me despite my hypermiling addiction. I always saw putting fuel in the car as a necessary expense to be able to get where I need to go faster and cheaper than it would be for me to walk there.

    I look at it like this: it takes me roughly 5 minutes to make $5 at work. At its recent peak in SoCal, $5 would buy 1 gallon of gas. 1 gallon of gas would get myself and my cargo 20 miles 20 minutes if I played my cards right. Walking 20 miles would take 400 minutes at best, without cargo.

    So for 25 minutes of time invested (5 minutes of work, 20 minutes of driving), I can save myself 375 minutes over walking the same distance. More if I have cargo to bring with me. I'm not going to do the math to turn 375 minutes into a dollar amount because I do my driving during my free time, and my free time is worth infinitely more than my on-the-clock time. The margin is impossible to compute.

    Sure, the margin decreases slightly when you factor in your vehicle's direct operating cost / mile, but it is still heavily in favor of driving in my case, and will be until gas goes north of $20/gal, or until you start talking about multi-thousand mile trips and bringing air travel into the mix.

    Just my $0.02, feel free to pick it apart.

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  12. It's really an interesting question - what would I drive if gas was cheap? I think I share in the snap reaction in a lot of others in that I'd probably head right for the nearest classic muscle car. But then, I live in an area that is somewhat harsh on cars in the winter and I don't have a garage. So it would have to be relatively new and rust proof. So then my thoughts turn towards something like this:

    [img]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-L-aoviwvhPc/AAAAAAAAAAI/AAAAAAAAALg/Gj-vlSeFKOc/photo.jpg[/img]

    But that's just too gaudy and extroverted. And I'd feel bad about parking it out in the elements. I'd need something a tad more practical and a bit more under the radar. My mind then turns to something like this:

    [img]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Aphl6BY8lA4/AAAAAAAAAAI/AAAAAAAACXw/RqHtdtGO510/photo.jpg[/img]

    ...and then I really started to ponder the question. The simple truth is that I don't factor in fuel mileage much. Unlike some and just like other DTers, I don't really have a long commute and I have other cars that can get me to where I need to go if one is down and out for the count. So, I feel like the question is moot for me personally. I don't think that I really worried that much about gas prices even when they were considered high here in the States. I completely understand that others most definitely do not share my point of view. But when I go to buy a car, I don't think that much about what sort of mileage it gets. So, in the end, while I'd like to drive both of the cars pictured here in my post, I most likely will never own either of them. I'm just not that fascinated by them and it would be easier for me to find slower, more fun to drive, more useful vehicles for far less money.

    I think it's somewhat a product of our consistently cheap fuel prices in relation to the rest of the world, but until things drastically change (and they probably will), I'll most likely keep thinking the same way I have since I began buying and driving cars. I also think I'd ride a motorcycle before I purchased something like a Prius, just so I could save money at the pump.

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    Replies
    1. Yes on the Viper and yes on the SRT-8. You actually beat me to the punch on the Jeep. Owning one of these through the recession would have been a nightmare at 8-9 MPGs.

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  13. I put just over 200 km on my car everyday. My car is a 08 Pontiac g5 sedan that my wife bought to get her license with but never did. My commute is taking my wife to work and driving home and repeating it in the evening. With gas at its current price (88.2 c/liter) we save almost $40 a week which is amazing. The problem is that this will not last forever and I'm sure that when the price does go up its going to hit 1.50 a liter all at once which is gonna suck but hey we have been there before.

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  14. Buick makes two versions of this 340 motor the hi po with 10.25-1 will need premium fuel had a friend with one and it knocked if it was not fed the good stuff !

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  15. II would buy a time machine, go back to the past, and repeal Cash for Clunkers.

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  16. I may fire up my 1973 Riviera GS. It gets about 10mpg.

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  17. I paid $1.28 per gallon today. That was regular. Two of my cars prefer premium, for which I paid $1.68 per gallon.

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