Friday, December 16, 2011

High Fuel Economy?

In 1973, the Datsun 1200 was the car with the highest fuel economy sold in the USA. It was EPA rated at 37.9 miles per gallon for the highway test cycle. Many owners report getting that mileage, although many others report less.

I checked my mileage carefully, keeping records of gasoling purchase and miles driven. After driving mine for several years and averaging 42 mpg when on the highway -- according to my records -- I realized the speedometer in my 1200 was inaccurate. It was reading about 10% too fast. I began checking the odometer against the "test" sections of the highway, and it too was reporting about 10% more miles traveled than actual. All of this even though I was running with the factory size tires. I also learned from my Ford service manual that Ford's specification was that a speedometer could be +10% to -5% and still be acceptible.

So when checking your MPG, be sure to test both the speedometer and more importantly the odometer. Today's roadside "your speed" signs make checking the speedometer easy. For the odometer, a stopwatch can be used. One mile @ a steady 60 mph takes 60 seconds. If your car takes 66 seconds, your gauge is 10% slow. Or just use the highway test sections which are usually 5 miles.

So what mileage did my Datsun 1200 really get? After correction, it was delivering 38 mpg, right with the EPA estimate.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Complexity is Good?

Today's car are nice. Very nice.

But in 15 years, will you be able to fix them, or will the cost of troubleshooting the 20 computers make them suitable for the scrap heap?

I enjoy driving and tinkering with a car where every component, every assembly can be understood by the average shade-tree mechanic. I know that if anything goes bad, it won't take a lot of money to fix. And I can fix it myself.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Where are the Subcompacts these days?

When they started out together, the Honda Civic was just as small (if not smaller) than the Datsun 1200. Now look how big the Civic has become:

It's the same with all the other subcompacts. They become much larger, heavier cars. Including the 1200's archrival Toyota Corolla. And especially the Datsun 1200 (B110) direct descendent, the Nissan Sentra (B14) -- it's just huge compared to the original!

But now ... the small cars are making a comeback:
  • Honda recently introduced the Fit
  • Nissan just came out with the Versa
  • Toyota redesigned the Yaris

Is it time for you to get a small, fuel efficient car? 30 MPG? That's nothing. If it doesn't get at least 40mpg, it's a gas hog. Why even the mid-size 2007 Camry (as big as a 1968 Chevelle) gets 31 mpg highway. And it's as fast as that V8-powered Chevelle, ripping off a 15-second quarter mile.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

When the average joe could maintain his own car

Remember when cars were simple to work on? And the Datsun 1200 was arguably the easiest to work on of all 1970's vehicles.

And you didn't need to be an electronics engineer to tune it up. All the spark plugs were within sight, everything is easy to do. I can even pick up the entire engine by myself! The Datsun 1200 was the least expensive car sold in USA in 1972, got the highest fuel economy, and perhaps the least expensive to maintain. You couldn't lose with this little car.

Does any manufacturer make a car like that today? Yes...
  • 2007 Nissan LDV 1400 is a pickup (el camino-style) version of the Datsun 1200, manufactured by Nissan South Africa. It even has a carburetor!
  • In the 1990s, India's Premier 118NE had the same engine as my 1972 model, the Nissan A12 engine and same transmission, however the body was based on a Fiat design

Monday, October 02, 2006

Treasure Found Under Tree

Hear about the collector who found a rare car in a barn? It can happen to you. Although it might behind the barn. Or under a tree.

If you've ever thought "I wish I could have" that car of your dreams (whether small dreams like the car in this pictures or bigger dreams), well you can. Tell your friends and family about your dream. Tell others. Eventually some one will let you know where a treasure is ready for the taking.

If you know of any Datsun 1200s for sale, or just seemingly abandoned, tell me about it. My contact info is here.

Friday, September 29, 2006


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Fill 'er Up

It's been about three weeks since I last went to the gasoline station.

My 1200 gets 38mpg highway, and probably 28 going back and forth to work. All I know is today I got down below the "E" so went to the filling station on the way home from work. I almost forgot what the experience was like! Wow, the price has dropped a lot, seems like it's about 70 cents/gallon cheaper than before.