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Mobilgas Economy Run questions

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A few questions for those petrolania collectors out there.

I'm working on an article on the Mobilgas Economy Run for our news letter and need a some information.

Is there a published listing of the following by year: Route, Winners, Manufactures, final m.p.g. for each, dates ?

Also, I'm interested in the 'bending of the rules' by various teams. I've found interesting stories about Studebakers change of address in order to get the route mailed to them sooner as well as their reprinting of the owners manual to get 2 more psi in the tires.

Thanks - Steve

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Another one I heard of relating to Chrysler in the 50s or 60s. They determined exactly when it was best to shift down on a steep grade for best mileage. Then they made a special ashtray with a curved bottom.

The driver could drop a ball bearing in the ash tray and use it as a guide for when to shift.

Other tricks were to drive in sock feet for sensitive throttle control, keep all the windows up and air conditioning off, fill the tank first thing in the morning when the gas was cool and dense, no doubt there were others.

All these tricks to eke out another 1/10th MPG.

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Some of the things suggested may or may not have happened on a Mobil Economy Run. I believe that the participants' route each day was given to them when they got into their car. And the comment on gas in the AM is just not true. The cars were fueled under strict conditions by USAC all from the same pumps at planned stops along the route. At the end of each day all the cars were impounded and were under USAC control until the next day's start.

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Leadfoot I believe you are correct. Some mileage tricks were legal, others were not. For example I don't think there was a rule about driving on a hot day with the windows up if you felt like it but I believe you are right about the gas.

So far as I know the runs were very closely supervised and strictly on the up and up. But every driver did his best driving, and the cars were prepared as well as possible within the rules.

The point is the car companies took the runs seriously and did their best to make a good showing.

Any advantage gained by tricks like the ashtray device would be very small.

In the end, all the cars got better mileage than a typical owner would get. But they were all comparable because all the drivers had the same advantages making it a fair competition.

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Another trick I heard of. All cars were bought or at least picked off the lots of retail dealers. The car companies were allowed to specify model, options etc. then the oil company would find a car of that model.

So, the car company would specify an unusual set of options then make half a dozen cars, all carefully prepared, and send them out to the dealers.

The oil company would pick one of them at random not knowing they had a "ringer".

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  • 1 year later...

Were you able to find results? Did you write your article? I'm interested in results for Compact Classes from '59 onward, when calculations were changed from ton-miles-per-gallon to a basic miles per gallon rating.

Especially looking for Rambler American ratings and MPGs.

Here is what I found (just looking for Ramblers)

Checking Wikipedia, I'm seeing:

1959 Rambler American - 25.2878MPG over 1,898 miles

1960 Rambler American Custom - 28.3533MPG over >2,000 miles

1964 Rambler American 440 - 27.8336MPG

1963 was 28.61 MPG in a Rambler American with automatic.

1962 was 31.11 in a manual Rambler American 400

1965 was Class B, Rambler American 440 at 25.65 MPG

I can't seem to find 1961, 1966, 1967 and 1968. I know that there are several classes. I'm trying to research how AMC did, so I could do a small windshield poster with my car when I go to cruise-ins.

I'm also trying to figure out what classes Rambler Americans won in - and if it was with manual transmission, automatic transmission, non-overdrive, ...

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