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I was wondering what kind of fuel economy/miles per gallon do you guys get in your antique cars?


TAKerry
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I was wondering what kind of fuel economy/miles per gallon do you guys get in your antique cars?

My 77 Firebird with a 400cu in motor, auto transmission will get about 12mpg on a good day. So needless to say its not an ideal daily driver. I dont think about the fuel cost when I drive it. I would assume a 4 cylinder model A would get great mileage, or a 6 cylinder something from the mid 30's. But, honestly have never heard anything first hand about what these cars do get.

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If I remember correctly my 1931 Franklin on a long trip at an average of about 50 mph would get 13 to 15 mpg. up or down hills/long grades.

this includes slow times at bridges and faster times on long straight highways like Rt. 81 and Rt, 17 in NY state where I would pick up my speed to a comfortable 63 mph

the cars custom body pushed overall weight up to about 5,000 lbs. for a 2 door victoria brougham that would seat 4 people comfortably .

Dutch Kern of Coopersberg, Pa. did the engine and made assorted improvements to the cam and timing to "fine tune " it as he knew that I would be putting in 5 + hours behind the wheel on several outings/adventures every year. One of the annual trips was in August sun and heat which was about 80-85 degrees for the trip. I would put 1,000 to 1,200 miles on in one week in that car .

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I get about 12-13 mpg in a mid 60's Ford 289 with a 2.78:1 rear end gear ratio.  The Buick straight eight for 1940 is likely going to be in the same ballpark as that was generally the claim by GM at the time.  I had a '64 TBird as a daily driver for years (in the 90's) that could muster about 11-12 mpg with the 390 in it, but oh what a ride!  Some of my other rides didn't have a working gas gauge to I'd get a couple rounds around the block on whatever came out of a 2.5 gallon gas can.

Edited by kgreen (see edit history)
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My 1964 VW Type 113 deluxe Beetle gets 32MPG with 10% ethanol and 36MPG on non-ethanol fuel.

My 1965 VW Type 111 1200"A" Beetle gets 38MPG with 10% ethanol and 42MPG on non-ethanol fuel.

My 1976 Oldsmobile gets 24MGP with 10% ethanol fuel and 28MPG with non-ethanol fuel.

I've never done a mileage check on the 62,63, and 69 Pontiac's, but my two daily drivers also have a 4MPG drop in economy if I use 10% ethanol fuel.

Think of all the fuel in this country we are wasting using ethanol fuel! Oh wait, we're not supposed to think of such things. Nice to know someone is looking out for us😉.  

Edited by Pfeil (see edit history)
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Some of the old cars do extremely well.  In the 1930's fuel prices were astronomical, very comparable to todays prices, adjusting for inflation.

 

PS Is there anything else that compares to driving an old car around to relive the stress of todays world...priceless

 

 

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 My  '55 Studebaker President which has a 259 cu. in. single exhaust w/ WCFB Carter and a Detroit Gear automatic transmission and radial tires gets a solid 19.5 MPG on tours with mixed country roads and highway driving. Road speeds between 60 and 70 MPH. Thats with regular ethanol- mixed gas.

 

My '39 Packard Super Eight  7 pass. Limo with BW R9 overdrive gets a max of 14.9 MPG on trips, speed kept under 60 MPH.

 

My ( now sold) '31 Ford Victoria which I drove for more than 20 years would average around 15 to 16 MPG with some Model B upgrades and a Snyder's 'Hi-compression' head and HS rear end.

 

I never happened to try non-ethanol fuel and I suspect the cars would a bit better with it.

 

 

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  • Peter Gariepy changed the title to I was wondering what kind of fuel economy/miles per gallon do you guys get in your antique cars?

When cars were specifically built for fuel economy like VW beetles, Nash 600, Fiat and cars like the first Ford Falcon they did meet fuel economy targets and sacrificed size and acceleration.  Some days traveling to high school in the late 1960s I was able to get a ride with a friend in their family’s VW beetle.  In the hilly area of PA where we lived the ol’ VW worked hard to get us up those hills while the bigger US cars did it with a lot less effort.  The VW awarded your patience with better fuel economy while the bigger and more powerful US car got you home a few minutes quicker.  At one time my father bought a well used Falcon for the fuel savings, it didn’t last long as he more enjoyed cars with better acceleration.

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My 38 Studebaker State Commander gets 12-13 in town and 14.5 on highway at 60 mph. 
My 60 Austin Healy with a 289 Ford V8 was lucky to get 7 miles per gallon. But that engine was built to run short street runs to make money and it did just that. 
dave s 

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Among the worst gas mileage:  I had a 1973 Cadillac

Eldorado.  It achieved only 6 m.p.g. around town, and

10 on the highway, for a consistent average of 8.

I read a review in Consumer Guide from 1973, and an

average of 8 m.p.g. was what they achieved also.

 

My 1978 Lincoln Mark V achieves 14 m.p.g. on the highway

at 55 m.p.h.  That's not bad for a big car.  It may not sound

like a big improvement over the Eldorado's 10, but it is

40% better!

 

Lincoln-R1-03-22_004.jpg

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Think the 22 cad is somewhere around the 4-8 mpg range, it’s written in one of the sales brochure about how much more efficient the new carb is…

 

It literally has not one but two drains that pour fuel on the ground lol..

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Our 1934 Ford 85 HP Flathead V8 gets about 15 MPG or less depending on how heavy my foot isApplies to all

Our 1935 Buick 307 V8 gets about the same with A/C.

My 35 Ford flathead V8 Pickup doesn;t get driven enough to measure MPG

Our 66 VW Bug gets sbout 30 MPG, also depending on driving conditions.

Our gas sipping 81 El Camino with a 135 HP 305 V8 gets about 10 MPG  This was a "gas saver in the 1980s"

Our 2006 Saturn Vue with a 3.5 Ltr Honda V6 gets about 22 MPG

Our 2004 GMC Yukon V8 gets about 14 MPG. but will tow anything.

My Club Car Carryall gets about 8 months on 6 gallons.

My 1970 Honda Trail 70 gets many years on a gallon.

I try to put non ethenol in all of them knowing how often the sit in the garage.

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Our 30 Cadillac Is not bad on gas as it gets me average 8 MPG. So at today's price of gas that is over $1 to drive one mile and you guys in the US complain about the high price of gas. Stop complaining as you got it good compared to every one else in the world!

Edited by Joe in Canada (see edit history)
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6 hours ago, Graham Man said:

Some of the old cars do extremely well.  In the 1930's fuel prices were astronomical, very comparable to todays prices, adjusting for inflation.

 

PS Is there anything else that compares to driving an old car around to relive the stress of todays world...priceless

 

 

image.png.89b3eec60ec154ce9991096040fd21a5.png

 

image.png.0bed45fa356490128927da64fccff377.png

Impressive.

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1968 Ford shop truck 390 CID dual genuine Carter AFB carbs running solid linkage and 4 speed transmission.

 

Highway 70 MPH empty - 22 MPG

Highway 60 MPH pulling 16 foot trailer with (2) 400 JD lawn & garden tractors - 17~18 MPG

Town - don't know, only use second and third, so definitely not as good as highway.

 

Jon

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1 hour ago, Mike "Hubbie" Stearns said:

Does it really matter?  We own them to drive and enjoy. Whether we are on a tour, going to a car show, or a quick trip to the store, we just fill it when it needs it. Mike

It matters to some people who don't want you to own and enjoy a collector car, some don't even want you to own a car at all.

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46 minutes ago, carbking said:

1968 Ford shop truck 390 CID dual genuine Carter AFB carbs running solid linkage and 4 speed transmission.

 

Highway 70 MPH empty - 22 MPG

Highway 60 MPH pulling 16 foot trailer with (2) 400 JD lawn & garden tractors - 17~18 MPG

Town - don't know, only use second and third, so definitely not as good as highway.

 

Jon

An FE getting anything over 16 is impressive. Would you care to elaborate on your combination more? Cam, Heads, total timing, Exhaust, rear diff ratio and tire height etc. 

I’ve got a good combination on a 62 Impala that loaded with tools and friends cruising 75 mph I’ve tweaked to 19mpg hwy without OD and could get better with less of a load but that’s no fun. Cool stuff when you can make a 50+ year old vehicle get modern pickup fuel economy 

 

Edited by BobinVirginia (see edit history)
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6 minutes ago, BobinVirginia said:

An FE getting anything over 16 is impressive. Would you care to elaborate on you combination more? Cam, Heads, total timing, Exhaust, rear diff ratio and tire height etc. 

I thought the same thing Bob. I've owned several pickups with FE engines and I always struggled to get better than low teens. My '42 pickup with 428 got about 8. A carburetor expert probably knows some tricks that the rest of us don't!

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10 minutes ago, pkhammer said:

I thought the same thing Bob. I've owned several pickups with FE engines and I always struggled to get better than low teens. My '42 pickup with 428 got about 8. A carburetor expert probably knows some tricks that the rest of us don't!

I’ve got a 78 Buick Regal that had a 455 Buick with th350 and 3:08 rear with a 27” tall 245/60/15 rear tire. Had a bone stock engine except ignition that got 22 mpg. Car with fluids including me weighed 3,400lbs. 
 

Nobody believed me that it got better mileage than the original 3.8 V6 but the car needed no throttle to pull it with the 455 as the 500 ftlbs pulled it at idle. The same setup in the car with an 69 Olds 455 did a best of 19mpg. 
It was my first car which was my daily driver and hotrod. I did run the big Qjet with 200cfm primaries. Holleys don’t typically get good mileage. 
 

Edited by BobinVirginia (see edit history)
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Only measure mine in smiles per mile - the 66 Dodge with a 318 2 barrell and 727 transmission by that measure is fairly efficient with the odd wave and most of the smiling by me.  The 64 D300 with the same 318 and 2 barrell with a 4 speed manual is the most efficient - tons of waves and thumbs up and me with a s*** eating grim the whole time!   The truck is by far the least fuel efficient, the cheapest vehicle in the shop, it's loud, it has arm strong steering but man is it fun!

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5 minutes ago, 3macboys said:

Only measure mine in smiles per mile - the 66 Dodge with a 318 2 barrell and 727 transmission by that measure is fairly efficient with the odd wave and most of the smiling by me.  The 64 D300 with the same 318 and 2 barrell with a 4 speed manual is the most efficient - tons of waves and thumbs up and me with a s*** eating grim the whole time!   The truck is by far the least fuel efficient, the cheapest vehicle in the shop, it's loud, it has arm strong steering but man is it fun!

That’s what it’s about, having fun! I do enjoy geeking out on seeing what I can get out of one. Whether it’s 8 or 30mpg it won’t stop me from driving a car I enjoy 

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For my USA road trip in 1978 I used a 1967 Pontiac LeMans, California spec, 326 V8 2 speed auto, and presumably fairly tall gears. I drove coast to coast, LA to Florida (much of it on I10), and back again through the centre - St Louis west on a mix of roads and the final half mostly on I80) , and up the Pacific Coast almost to Canada and back to San Diego where I sold it (for $400). It averaged 22.5 mpg (US) over 12,500 miles at gas prices averaging around 65c/gal. A typical tankful was around $9.

 

Here it is in on the road to Dauphin island in Alabama.

 

 

2 Dauphin Is Al.JPG

 

On comparison my 1965 Pontiac Bonneville got at best about 16 mpg (per Imperial gallon which is about 20% bigger). A friend had a 1970 Buick Electra convertible which got similar mileage.

 

My figures from here on are all in Imperial. 4.55 litres in a gallon vs 3.8 in a US gallon.

 

My recently purchased 1929 Studebaker averaged 13 mpg Imperial on its 400 mile delivery drive home. 

 

We are looking at converting it to a modern Weber downdraft carb. Apparently it should improve economy to nearer 20 mpg.

 

I was at an event recently where someone was spouting about how their friend's 1922 Rolls-Royce got 23 mpg - remember the engine is a 1906 design, flat head six of over 7 litres. My son spent three years working at a Rolls-Royce shop and he said they quickly learned there were two types of Ghost owners - those that got 10 mpg and those that lied. He and the shop foreman spent some time with one and managed to improves it economy to 12 mpg.

 

In contrast, in 2016 I spent three weeks in England driving a 2016 Mercedes-Benz A180 rental car with the paddle shift seven speed auto. It averaged 40 mpg over 2,000 miles. I then spent a week in France driving a French-built 2016 Toyota Yaris which had a 1350 cc engine and six speed manual box. It averaged 53 mpg over about 1,200 miles, including a lot of autoroute cruising at 125 kph (75+ mph).

 

Pic taken at the old Reims pits. 

 

In a couple of weeks we will be taking the 1929 Plymouth on a weekend winter rally. I will try and keep a check on its fuel use.

 

People here often grizzle about how much we pay for fuel here in NZ compared with the US. Our tax regime is quite different so it really can't be compared. I am not up on details but I think in the US you can't get away without having medical insurance. Here in NZ medical care at hospital level is essentially free.

 

The government has temporarily dropped its fuel tax by half and at the moment a litre of 91 is selling around NZ$2.85 a litre. For 3.8 litres - a US gallon equivalent that is just under $11. BUT remembering the NZ dollar is only worth 64c US that brings the price back to just under $7 - not that far from current US prices?

 

 

 

 

2016 Reims.JPG

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I have a 1925 Maxwell. Four cylinder engine. On flat hwy I get 20-22 mpg, but the reality of normal driving, flat land/hills I get somewhere in the range of 15-16 mpg. I agree with several previous posters. I drive strictly for enjoyment and appreciation of the car. For as much as I drive it the cost of gas and mpg really doesn't concern me.

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13 hours ago, TAKerry said:

I was wondering what kind of fuel economy/miles per gallon do you guys get in your antique cars?

My 77 Firebird with a 400cu in motor, auto transmission will get about 12mpg on a good day. So needless to say its not an ideal daily driver. I dont think about the fuel cost when I drive it. I would assume a 4 cylinder model A would get great mileage, or a 6 cylinder something from the mid 30's. But, honestly have never heard anything first hand about what these cars do get.

I'll be 72 on my next birthday, all my cars and trucks were the same, when I had less than a 1/4 tank of gas I added more. Then the vehicle was junk I scrapped it, and bought another. Other peoples milage differed and I never cared. 

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My beloved much modified '46 truck on S10 chassis gets me 24-26 mpg at 55. If I hit the interstate though, aerodynamics rears its head and we drop to high teens, low 20s. My 235/sm420/3.08 1952 Chevy 3100 gets me around 15mpg. The daughter's double hump headed 350 powered '79 'vette gets 14-6ish.  The powerhouse of the fleet, my '98 'vette, does the best-28mpg at 80 with the a/c on. But it does require the petroleum equivalent of Dom Perignon, high test.

Times like these, I'm very thankful to be a state LE officer with a state car and fuel card. This means I can still afford to take my toys out at will, even if I do squeal a bit with rage and pain when I kick the gas pump on.

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14 hours ago, BobinVirginia said:

An FE getting anything over 16 is impressive. Would you care to elaborate on your combination more? Cam, Heads, total timing, Exhaust, rear diff ratio and tire height etc. 

I’ve got a good combination on a 62 Impala that loaded with tools and friends cruising 75 mph I’ve tweaked to 19mpg hwy without OD and could get better with less of a load but that’s no fun. Cool stuff when you can make a 50+ year old vehicle get modern pickup fuel economy 

 

 

The engine started live as a 390 GT.

 

Removed the thirsty Holley, and original cast iron intake.

 

Installed Offenhauser 2x4 intake.

 

Started with FOUR genuine Carter AFB carbs (2) Carter 4759s comp series 625 CFM, (2) Lincoln carbs that matched (don't remember the exact number).

 

The Comp Series castings were the best castings, but the calibration is Chevrolet.

 

Disassembled both sets, and transferred the following items from the Lincoln carbs (Ford calibration) to the Comp Series castings: primary clusters, secondary clusters, jets, metering rods, air valves, and primary throttle arms.

 

Carbs were set up with solid linkage (the engine thinks it has one carb with two sources). Idle on both, off-idle on both, cruise and WOT on both.

 

Manual choke is functional on both.

 

Ran really well with these calibrations, but I did some tuning with metering rods (the Lincoln step-up springs were fine).

 

Transmission is a truck (granny low) 4-speed.

 

I don't know rear end ratio. Truck originally came with a 360 2-barrel Holley and dogmatic transmission; so whatever Ford used for that combination. Tires are steel-belted radial.

 

Truck as bought used with 9K miles by my Dad got 9 MPG!!!!! Removing the bug screen raised it 2 MPG, radial tires and dual exhausts another couple; junking the wasteful dogmatic and installing the 4-speed was good for about 4 more, replacing the 360 with the 390 and a single Carter more, and final change was the dual quads which again improved the mileage.

 

Tried running with tailgate down as some have suggested, but found marginally WORSE mileage doing this.

 

Worst issue: the 390 has so much heat that the aluminum bodied AFBs are COMPLETELY DRY 30 minutes after shutdown! Not an issue while running, just after shutdown. This required an electric pump.

 

Just a lot of changes.

 

EDIT: one thing I forgot (maybe because I would like to forget ;) ), the front frame crossover for the pickup is in a different spot than for the 390 GT passenger, so the 390 GT exhaust manifolds would not fit. We wanted to get the truck running, so installed a set of tube headers. These probably help the mileage marginally, but wish I had NEVER even considered these noisy items.

 

Jon.

Edited by carbking (see edit history)
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