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5/13/08 9:56 a.m.

My old Fiat 600 would get close to 60mpg, and flat out, would do 62 mph, if you found a good draft off a truck. Of course it was modified a bit, and put out a stump pulling 32hp at the wheels!

David Wallens
David Wallens Editorial Director
5/13/08 11:05 p.m.

It's funny, but the most common thing people say when they see my Mini is "what kind of mileage does it get?" Honestly, I have no idea, but with twin SUs I'm guessing it's not the best out there. One day I'll try to measure it.

As far as restoring old Civics, I know a guy who's into that. (By the way, the CRX passed the 202,000-mile mark this evening.)

Dwight Varnes
Dwight Varnes New Reader
5/14/08 5:13 a.m.

1275 Minis with twin carbs, driven at highway speeds, seem to only get in the upper 20's. The gearing is usually not kind to the mileage.

My 850 is supposed to get high 30s to low 40s but I've never bothered to check it.

T_Rocco New Reader
5/14/08 9:43 p.m.

Ron, A Yugo fills all your requiements. One can be had for a couple hundred dollars on ebay. Very few searches come up without one. Non-runners go for $100 to $300 for two of them. Runners go for $300 to $800 and up. They don't have a huge rust problem so don't be surprised to find a very solid one. It is a Fiat 127 restyled for the discriminating Yugoslavian (as well as loads of US buyers looking for a bargin!). All of the identifiing numbers start with "128" as in Fiat 128/X1/9 stuff fits. Early ones were Weber carbed 1100cc SOHC 4 speeds. Later models were fitted with Bosch EFI 1300cc SOHC and a 5 speed. The things that broke were inner door handles and window cranks... We spoiled American drivers think you have to be able to open your doors, from the inside! Since the cars have two doors I would call that a redundant system...In all likelihood you would never see both inner door handles and both cranks broken at the same time. This state would require someone outside your car at you destination to let you out. This could happen but it has never happened to me. I swapped all handles for Fiat cast metal replacements- problem solved! Since they are 128 drivelines, many performance parts remain avialable to this day. No mods, they are direct fit. Check mine out in the reader rides. It gets over 35 MPG and carries my family (four of us) at 70 MPH plus passes. You get noticed in two places, the top of the heap and the bottom... Everything else tends to fade in the middle. I get lots of positive feedback from people who know what it is and haven't seen one in years. Those who don't know what it is just think it's neat. It is as small a car as I would want to have because anything smaller tends toward city use only. They look very much like and are mistaken for the VW MK 1 Rabbit. ciao, Tony

foxtrapper New Reader
5/15/08 5:46 a.m.

These days I miss my old CRX with it's 30+ mpg (35 as I recall).

I've had some of the others you mentioned. None of them came close to the CRX on gas mileage. Then there's the reliability and comfort factor (ac for example).

5/15/08 9:18 a.m.

My best ever was a '79 (German built) Rabbit diesel that had a few performance mods. Put out a smokescreen under full throttle, but was nearly as quick as an early gas Rabbit while retuning an actual 55mpg at 55mph.

My 1275 Midgets always did a bit over 30mpg... though I can't seem to get my 1275 Minis to do the same. My Ford Fiesta also got right at 30 on the highway. Key to all of these is low weight...

Modern fuel injection really helps the mileage... my E30 convertibles (one for sale... not too far over your price limit!) get over 30mpg on the highway... while my 3.2 E36 M2 convertible did almost as well despite having the performance it did...


rconlon Reader
5/15/08 9:55 a.m.

I did own a Rabbit in the early 80's and it was a nice nimble car with good mpg. The Yugo I recall was the earlier model with all the standard features. I bought a used Honda Accord instead of a new Yugo for the same money since the Yugo seemed poorly built. A later styled Yugo would be a good choice and its poor reputation make it all the more cool.


purplepeopleeater None
5/15/08 5:27 p.m.

I'd love to get my greasy claws on an old Civic 1200 but I've only seen about 2 in the last 5 years & they were lace. See through is sexy on a pretty lady but ugly on an old car. Purplepeopleeater

ww None
5/16/08 10:51 p.m.

I get around 27mpg in my '72 240Z w/ a 5-speed out of an '83 280ZX.

If you want mpg in the 40's you can get a Datsun B210 or and earlier HoneyBee!

wspohn New Reader
5/18/08 2:37 p.m.

The MGB is a good choice in terms of price and mileage.

The MGC isn't as bad as you'd think either, especially on the highway.

I'm not sure that my 3.4 V-6 Jamaican might not be almost as frugal as my regular MGs as it runs on 87, has injection and has an obscenely long geared OD ratio.

OTOH my old Lambo makes up for it - nothing but premium and lots of it. I'm saving up for a tankful sometime this summer......

MacDubois New Reader
5/25/08 5:27 p.m.

A Triumph Spitfire or TR7 would fit the bill. I expect to get 30+ in mine again...once it has floors.

pjr300 None
6/5/08 9:53 p.m.

How about a Toyota MR2? Not the later ones, but the 1st generation model. 30 mpg, and TWO trunks as well...such a deal!

rconlon Reader
6/9/08 3:21 p.m.

No one has mentioned my old Chevette. And probably with good reason. It did run well enough and get good mpg. I did not like it but bear it no ill will. The steering wheel seemed pointed towards the passenger and the handling was awful until I replaced the shocks. It was reliable. I bet if you had one and tarted it up nice that it would garner a lot of positive remarks. Many of us would have to admit to having one at one time.

Cheers Ron

Greg Voth
Greg Voth Associate Publisher
6/11/08 8:44 a.m.

Although it may get you yelled at, it seems that if you drop an LSX motor and a T-56 in anything and it will pull down 30mpg.

6/13/08 9:47 p.m.

I have several old cars that do pretty well on gas . best one is the 87 alfa milano 5 spd.If i drove it easy ,which is hard to do and got a front end alignment,put on less sticky tires. it would get 35 or more mpg on the highway .It gets 33 driven like a lunatic with most shifts at close to redline sticky yoko tires and a badly out of line front end after a steering rack swap. can be bought for lunch money mine was 350$ pretty dependable too . second is my turbo saab convertible tuned for higher boost and driven easily it got 30mpg mixed highway/ city at last check. non turbo has better gearing and less power so mileage is better and they are cheap ,totally indestructible as well. my old 998 woseley hornet was awesome fun and averaged 36mpg my wife made me sell it .i want another one. early rabbit 1977 4spd got 27 average .my 63 studebaker lark v8 auto gets 24mpg mixed driving not bad for a 4 barrel v8 . .Lots of good choices out there .regards jeff a

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/22/08 6:37 p.m.

How about a Vespa? Classy looks and easy on gas. Plus it doesn't take up much room in the garage.

850Combat New Reader
7/11/11 11:50 p.m.

My '68 Cortina only got about 25 mpg stock. With twin side drafts Delorttos big valves and a cam, it approaches 30 - if I drive it normally, which is sometimes hard to do. its interesting that it Dynoed at 135 hp at the crank compared to the stock 85 hp rated at the brochure originally, yet it is now more economical to operate. Of course at any given cruising speed, a modified motor is making the same power as a stok one.

The 3.9 rear end and lack of 5th gear or overdrive limits high speed cruising and ultimate economy.

Had a Fiat 850 Sports Coupe when I was a kid. It would get 42 or so on the highway and 34 or so commuting, and I drove even dumber then.

Jim Pettengill
Jim Pettengill HalfDork
7/12/11 12:31 a.m.

Real-world numbers from my '89 Mk. 1 MR2: highway always 37 - 39, have topped 40 mpg twice. Around town in stop and go traffic, I have no data, I literally don't have any of that kind of driving around here. My driving is about 25 % off pavement (15 mile round trip from my house to and from the pavement), then nice 2-lane roads in the mountains and occasional 200-mile round trips to Grand Junction for track days. Overall mpg for about 30,000 miles of these conditions, including around 200 miles of track days and more than 100 autocross runs, is around 35. Worst tankful I have ever had was 30 mpg even and included 35 track miles on a short (1-mile) twisty track. YMMV. Only mods to the powertrain are a low-restriction sport cat and a quiet low restriction muffler. I run 195/50-15 RE-11s on 7.0x15 wheels, so that's not with low rolling resistance tires, either. With cruise control, great A/C and two trunks, it's a great all-around car, so long as you don't have to carry things in big, square boxes.

Rupert Reader
7/23/11 2:56 p.m.

The first generation CRX was a shocker. Combine plenty of space for two with luggage, a decent handling car, & good horsepower, plus 35+ mpg. This is a good description of an early CRX. To amp it up a lot, find a first generation CRX SI! If you haven't driven one, you'll never believe what a great road car that is. Durability? It's a Honda!

I had an '85 SI for five years during which time I took more than one stock FTD at sanctioned autocross events. And yes that is all brand and models of stock autocrossers present that day. It always averaged over 35mpg & at 145,000 miles the only unscheduled repairs needed was brake pads. If I hadn't autocrossed it at least once a month all that time, I wouldn't have even needed that one set of brakes.

I sold the car to a Papa Johns Pizza guy who used it for years to deliver pizzas. At about 215,000 the radiator header developed a crack so he had to replace it. But as of the last I knew, neither the engine or transmission had ever been opened up. And yes, it still had the original clutch which I autocrossed with!

racerdave600 Dork
7/25/11 5:37 p.m.
Rupert wrote: The first generation CRX was a shocker. Combine plenty of space for two with luggage, a decent handling car, & good horsepower, plus 35+ mpg. This is a good description of an early CRX. To amp it up a lot, find a first generation CRX SI! If you haven't driven one, you'll never believe what a great road car that is. Durability? It's a Honda!

I still remember my first drive in CRX. I was in college and guy I knew got a new SI. I was driving a TR4 at the time, so I was a bit snobbish about it all. Anyway, a quick drive after class and my jaw dropped. What an awesome car. And there was no doing a "nut and bolt" every week so parts wouldn't fall off. No leaking in the rain, roadside repairs or a trunk full of spare parts. What a concept! Original SI's are hard to find and great cars!

MadScientistMatt Dork
7/27/11 11:26 a.m.

I've often wanted a Pinto with a 2.3 Turbo - or maybe a turbo Zetc for less weight.

GSCReno Reader
7/31/11 8:10 p.m.

I picked up a 1980 Rabbit Diesel a few weeks ago for $250.00. Actually quicker from 0 to 60 than the gas powered variant... 52 mpg on the highway, and the suspension bits are standard A1 VW fare. Not to mention the fact that it runs just fine on cooking/peanut oil. Cheap and cheerful indeed. Cheers, Scott

Tom Heath
Tom Heath Web Manager
8/1/11 10:02 a.m.

I've always wanted to spend some quality time in a diesel Rabbit-actually, the pickup version if possible. They're getting downright rare these days!

ditchdigger Dork
8/1/11 2:51 p.m.
GSCReno wrote: I picked up a 1980 Rabbit Diesel a few weeks ago for $250.00. Actually quicker from 0 to 60 than the gas powered variant... 52 mpg on the highway,

Having owned 2 dozen VW rabbits from 1975 models to 1984 GTI's and 3 diesels I can assure you that the diesels are not faster than the gas models.

These numbers come from old road and track reviews

1979 Volkswagen Rabbit (Diesel) 0-60 mph 17.8 Quarter mile 20.7

1979 Volkswagen Rabbit (Diesel) 0-60 mph 21.2 Quarter mile 21.9

1979 Volkswagen Rabbit 0-60 mph 11.6 Quarter mile 18.6

GSCReno Reader
8/1/11 6:19 p.m.

I didn't say that the Diesel is faster than the gas variant, I said it was quicker... Let's not confuse the two. '79 numbers are irrelevant here because all '79 Rabbits (gas and Diesel) used a 4 speed gearbox. Starting in '80 a 5 speed 'box was available on the Diesel models only (the gas powered cars still used a 4 speed 'box in '80). The 5 speed cars were reported to go 0-60 in the 17.3 to 17.5 range, which is , in fact, quicker than the 17.8 of the gas powered, 4 speed shifted cars. This information was culled from several VW Diesel websites. If you don't agree with these numbers, then please, by all means, go argue with the folks who posted them... Yeah Tom, the Caddys are uber cool... And pretty pricey these days. I wanted to cry last night when the Knuckleheads on Top Gear destroyed that beautiful '81. Cheers, Scott

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