Economy Analysis

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Sir,

Many of my friends seem deeply despondent at the prospects of the fuel-gaugewatching type of motoring ahead. We may think we have problems but look at the cruel stroke of fate which has upset the performance priorities of the last decade thus putting the Wankel and also, I fear, Honda’s CVCC out of contention, In Europe, anyhow, economy now calls the tune (pun unintended), seconded I think by the power to weight ratio of the engine, in as much as this in itself is an assistance to further economy. Pollution control as an aim in itself must come a poor third, although fortunately the aims of low emissions and low fuel consumption are highly compatible.

If Honda could have foreseen today’s petrol costs, would they not have continued along their initial “Controlled Vortex” lines and developed something akin to the Texaco swirl combustion chamber? With its uncluttered head, its theoretical diesel-like ability to use unthrottled excess air combined with full flow exhaust turbocharging if required, this would appear to be a much more promising unit both from the economy and performance standpoints. Of course it would need expensive high pressure direct fuel injection, like the diesel; a unit which in itself must be a possible contender if it could lose some weight and its low speed knock—exhaust gas recirculation combined with steam injection perhaps?

Another contender would seem to be art “orthodox” engine with axially floating camshaft giving variable valve lift and timing, which appeals to me as a very elegant solution; alternatively a small capacity constant speed unit driving an outside storage flywheel, which doesn’t. Infinitely variable drive along DAF or Perbury lines equipped with a locking device for a friction-free overdrive top might give a marginal improvement even for the flat power curves of the engines under consideration, but whatever the transmission, an overdrive would be de rigueur, and personally I like a free-wheel which is cheaper and I would guess just as effective overall as regenerative braking.

Anyhow, whatever the mechanical package, it will have to be given an aerodynamic body. (Will the aerodynamicist at last be given precedence over the stylist?) This could have an important “political” side-effect—if the performance car manufacturers could demonstrate that their vehicles used less fuel at say 75 m.p.h. than when running at lower speeds then it would obviously be a powerful argument against further “Red Flag” type legislation.

Anyhow, I think the editor may yet see his 60 m.p.g. at 60 m.p.h. achieved.

Worksop P. S. Antill