Thursday, 23 May 2013

Gas Guzzlers: Your Mileage May Vary

Moving two thousand pound of steel, rubber, and irreverent bumper stickers is never easy. It takes a lot of energy combined with a hefty dose of engineering to get your car rolling, let alone up to freeway speeds. As one testy Tesla Tester found out the hard way, age, engine size, driving style, and temperature can affect your miles per gallon, for better or worse.

Whatever your stance on the climate change debate, a vehicle that eats gas like Kobayashi eats hot dogs can put a serious dent in your wallet over time.  However, your SUV might seem a little more eco-friendly compared to these great gas guzzlers.

Bugatti Veyron: 8 Mpg City, 15 Mpg Highway

I don’t  really have to dissuade you from buying this because, let’s face it, it was out of your price range anyway. Sure, it might be the fastest production car in the world, but the abysmal gas mileage and base price of 2.25 Million ensure the Veyron is only practical for rappers, playboys, and the worst-hit of midlife crisis victims. To be fair, the Veyron is incredibly aerodynamic and relatively lightweight, a good start for an efficient car: Things go south when you factor in the massive 8-Liter 16 cylinder engine producing a ridiculous 1,200 horsepower. Al Gore can rest easy knowing the average Veyron owner drives less than 1,000 miles per year.

Lamborghini LM002: 7.8 Mpg Combined

Originally designed for the US Military, this hulkish departure from Lambo’s usual array of streamlined machines ironically ended up in the hands of the only people who could afford to buy and fuel such a beast; eccentric third-world dictators and stock brokers with compensation problems. The base model LM002, dubbed the “Rambo Lambo” was spec’d with the V12 engine out of the legendary Countach, but for those requiring more power, a marine-grade V12 normally found on high-end powerboats was also available. Fitting the over-the-top theme, all LM002s were spec’d with a 76 gallon gas tank. By my calculations (76 gallons times $3.75/gallon= $285) it would almost be cheaper to buy and trash a beater every 590 miles (7.8Mpg x 76.6 gallons) than to fill up the LM002. In what must have been one of the most expensive and patriotic training exercises in military history, American soldiers in Iraq packed an LM002 that belonged to Uday Hussein full of explosives to simulate the effects of a car bomb.

M1 Abrams Tank: 0.57-1.6 Miles Per Gallon

Ok, ok, this one might not be comparable to your daily driver, unless you’re in the military in which case it literally might be your daily driver.  This rolling weapon is powered by a mammoth turbine engine (eat your heart out, Mazda) that requires 10 gallons of gas just to start. With a top speed of 41.5 mph, the M1 Abrams is surprisingly swift for something carrying a 125mm cannon, grenade launchers, multiple machine guns, and a few tons of armor plating. Its important to note that most tanks are driven very slowly or left idling in combat situations (or so I’m told, having never driven a tank in war): The M1’s engine is specifically designed to minimize fuel consumption while idling or driving at low speeds. The M1 Abrams burns only 1 gallon of fuel per hour of idling, pretty impressive for a machine full of heavily-used electronic systems.

Ford Excursion: 8Mpg City, 12 Mpg Highway

This one is a bit of a cheap shot and shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. I can only assume Ford explicitly told their engineers to build the biggest consumer vehicle possible, because that’s exactly what they did. In fact, the Excursion was so large it was classified as a heavy-duty commercial and rural use vehicle, which conveniently exempted it from CAFE emissions standards and providing miles per gallon figures to the EPA. Discontinued in 2005, the Excursion can still be found in strip malls and family farms across America.  It is still instantly recognizable and has become a symbol of vanity and excess rather than the rugged “git r dun” image originally imagined by Ford.

I have always had a special place in my heart for the Excursion. It was utilitarian by default (there wasn’t much you couldn’t put in it short of a solar system) and brashly unapologetic about its mileage, or lack thereof. It you’re going to drive an SUV, why not drive the biggest and baddest one available, right? Back in the halcyon days of the early 2000s, my father actually went to the dealership with every intention of buying an excursion, but decided to measure our garage first. Unfortunately the mighty excursion wouldn’t fit without crushing our hot water heater, and my father was forced to settle for a small and sissy Suburban instead.

Featured images:
  •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/745600

The author of this article is Dylan Jones, he loves to write and at every opportunity where he can write about cars, he does so. This article on gas guzzlers inspired him in that he likes to look at the opposite side. Everyone talks about best MPG, he wants to talk about the worst. But, for all his auto needs, he goes to AAMCO Brighton Auto Repair

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