Amazing 110 mpg Mustang Runs on Hot Air and Cattle Manure

by Benjamin Jones on July 6, 2008

110 mpg bs-mobile

Recently the BS-o-meter of many forum members was tripped by a guy claiming to get 110 mpg out of his 1987 Ford Mustang. Though the claim seems a little ridiculous, and I think most people would be quick to dismiss it, the fact that it’s getting some media attention warrants a debunking.

The first thing to say is that conspiracy theories will not be considered here. I am not on the payroll of big oil, the government, Saudis, terrorists, or any of that. Nor is there any real evidence that any of these agents are going above and beyond normal business tactics to keep the US addicted to oil. Sure, the Saudis may produce more oil to lower prices and make the need for alternatives less pressing, but is Exxon assassinating the “water4gas” internet spammers? I think not. So, if your argument for the feasibility of this device is that it’s always been possible and the man is keeping it down, then don’t waste your breath arguing.

Now on to this specific case. Here we have a mechanic named Doug Pelmear with an ’87 Ford Mustang that he claims gets 110 mpg, 400 horsepower, 500 ft-lbs of torque, and can do 0-60 in 3 seconds. According to Doug, the builder:

“My grandfather had the idea back in the 40’s that he can make a difference then,” Pelmear says, “There was quite a need at that time also with the war going on and everything, there was quite the need then.” And quite a need now.

This should throw up our first red flag. His grandfather had an idea back in the 40s that this guy has remade into some sort of miracle device 60 years later? Nevermind the fact that automakers spend billions of dollars working on having the best of the best in terms of both power and efficiency, and that to date the Honda Insight holds the mileage crown at with a combined EPA rating of 53 MPG. Doug Pelmear claims to more than double that using something his grandfather thought up 60 years ago? Engine technology from that period is nothing like the fuel injected, computer controlled tech of today, but this device still works wonders?

Those this technology could be working to increase the thermodynamic efficiency of the engine, as one ecomodder pointed out,  thermodynamic efficiency can only be increased so much before it is at 100%, which would be impossible. Given that car engines are typically 25-30% efficient, there is only so much gain to be had before you’re claiming to have broken the laws of physics.

As for the car itself, 1987 Mustangs come with EPA ratings from 17-24 MPG, with 17 being the number assigned to the V8 variety.  Completely disregarding the performance claims Doug is making, if we are to assume he’s using the 5.0L V8 as a base, he’s claiming a 640% increase in fuel economy. While ecomodders regularly report increases of 50% to 100% on the extreme side, does such a huge improvement seem feasible? And if so, how could it be done while dramatically increasing power output?

The next red flag comes up when we learn that Doug won’t tell anyone what he’s done to the car or what technology he’s using:

While Pelmear won’t let us look under the hood, he says the technology can easily be applied to smaller engines for even better gas mileage. He’s entering the car in the prestigious Progressive Automotive X competition; a race where inventors from around the world compete for the best mileage with a car that is the most marketable. Pelmear says, his technology is very marketable because it will allow people to drive large cars and SUV’s without sacrificing gas mileage.

As the original report notes, the X-Prize is a prestigious competition, but to me it seems like he is only using the name in order to make his claims appear more legitimate. While his plan to sell his design to automakers in order to make it big certainly could explain why he wouldn’t want to make a DIY and post it online, but he can’t expect anyone to believe his claims if he’s not even willing to drive the car around and fill it up at the pump to throw a little weight behind his claims.

And even that brings up another question. Evidently Doug’s job was recently cut in Ford’s latest round of lay-offs. If he intends to use this invention to bring back the US automotive industry, why didn’t it see the light of day during the years he worked for  billion-dollar manufacturer? This kind of technology would have definitely gotten him a nice promotion, a fat paycheck, and position as the savior of his company. Instead, he doesn’t mention until he’s out of a job.

If you watch this video from CNN, you will see a few more interesting things:


The first thing that I notice is that he’s running (or at least claiming to run) E85. While E85 is higher octane, it is also known for returning lower fuel economy in flex-fuel vehicles. Wikipedia notes that  the flex-fuel Chevy Tahoe is rated for 18 mpg with regular gasoline, but only 13 mpg using E85. That’s 38% less fuel economy in a vehicle designed to run on E85.

Secondly, when the 110 mpg image pops up, you’ll note that it actually says “MPGe.” This stands for “miles per gallon energy equivalent,” which, coupled with the knowledge that he is running E85 suggests that he is getting less that 110 mpg and using a conversion factor to make the number sound more impressive than it otherwise would. Using the previous Chevy Tahoe example as an analogy, this means that he might only be getting 80 mpg while deceptively claiming 110 mpg. Though his website does show “MPGe” and state that it means “energy equivalent,” he neither explains this to readers nor to the reporter. This, at least, seems as if he is trying to mislead us and makes me question his other claims.

Finally, you’ll notice that even though the two men behind the scenes are talking up the performance of this car, we only see it peacefully cruising the neighborhood streets. Were the reporters to daft to ask for a ride or is that another one of Doug’s secrets? Surely a muscle car like that would be capable of a few burnouts or revs to show off for itself. However, we’re left knowing nothing more than that it actually runs under its own power.

In the end, Doug Pelmear doesn’t give us any reason to believe his claims. All his website states is that on the 14th of June the car will be tested at a race track. Sadly, that was posted on the 16th of June, and there were never any results. There are plenty of reasons to believe this is nothing more than a fuel price-related scam cooked up by someone pissed off that he got fired from his job at Ford, and unless there is some great revelation, I’m calling this a hoax. As always, feel free to disagree.

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1 Eddy July 25, 2008 at 8:42 pm

I love how everyone pulls the Hybid issue as the
end all of Great Fuel economy… What a croc.
1989 Geo Metro. 1989 Geo City Metro to be exact… Fuel Type: Unleaded. MPG (city). 43. MPG (highway). 51. MPG: if you had it Empty and Drove it like a Hypermiller Grandparent…
75 (granted with a tailwind on the Highway…)

My nighbor in OKC had a Diesel Bug (Newer) that when she Hypermilled it, could get 60 MPG
or better. I haven’t been sold on any of the hybrids yet. Most are ugly, and the ones that are just like the reg. models, are not that much more fuel efficient.

Bio diesel gets better and better every day…

2 Matt Keegan August 4, 2008 at 2:04 pm

All these different scams out there could end up damaging people’s engines if they fall for them. Water powered cars? Um, not yet. Poop in the gas tank? Sure, go ahead. Hypermiling? Pretty dangerous. I’m for offshore drilling and finding alternative fuel sources. This other stuff isn’t ready for prime time.

3 Dave November 7, 2008 at 7:39 am

I met this individual and his wife yesterday at SEMA… Not only did they look like white trash, they were also some of the most rude and unprofessional people that I ever met! In fact, if they weren’t such jerks about me asking kindly if it was there car and what it had done to it, I wouldn’t even be looking it up right now. They told me that people were lucky that they even let people at SEMA take photos of it. WHATEVER! Wow, some people.

4 Rob November 30, 2008 at 3:01 pm

It’s remotely possible. Using plausible numbers (the best I could find in a half-hour Googling) for frontal area, drag coefficient, and weight along with a reasonable estimate of tire rolling resistance, a “black box” with those properties should be able to get right at 180 miles out of the amount of energy in a gallon of gasoline regardless of where the energy actually comes from. That assumes that 100% of said energy can be used to overcome drag and rolling resistance, so to get 110 MPGe, he’d need to operate at 110/180 or ab out 61% efficiency. Given the vagueness of the data I could find (and I estimated favorably where I had an option) it’s not impossible that 50% efficiency would be sufficient. Such an efficiency, while extremely difficult to achieve, is not thermodynamically impossible.

That all said, I call shenanigans.

5 Rob November 30, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Added to my comment above, the calculations were performed for a speed of 55 m.p.h.

6 robt smith May 30, 2009 at 4:14 am
7 Rob June 6, 2009 at 4:21 pm

I did a little write up of the vehicle on my blog at:

Of course, there are links to his site as well as to this EM article. Of interest, he’s no longer entered for the Automotive X Prize, a link to that press release is also provided in the blog post.

8 Rob June 6, 2009 at 7:11 pm

Pelmear has withdrawn from the X Prize contest for reasons other than “my claims were bogus. See the press release at

There’s sufficient data at to further analyze the credibility of his claims. I’ve done so at my blog post at

9 Rob June 9, 2009 at 2:24 pm

I apologize for the double post above, I didn’t realize my first comment was awaiting moderation. Benjamin, please feel free to delete either one of them if you’d like.

Progressive Automotive X Prize has responded to the claims made by HP2g in their withdrawal statement at

10 Anonymous Cyberslueth July 14, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Why do you care? This guy is not trying to sell anything (to my knowledge) or trying to take anyone’s money is he?

So what if so guy claims this on his own vehicle? How does this impact you, other than to allow you to bash the guy?

11 Benjamin Jones July 16, 2009 at 3:10 am

Actually, he has a company and has claimed hundreds of thousands of pre-orders on this “technology” and is claiming to save the auto industry with this car, so it is important to take a critical look at these issues.

12 Rob July 16, 2009 at 5:59 am

I had a very similar comment posted yesterday on my blog post about the HP2g. It was an anonymous post, but I imagine it was the same person. I answered that (summarizing, not to copy from there):
1. Bad to see that so many people get their hopes of for the engine either for themselves or for jobs on impossible premises.
2. Scientific illiteracy speaks ill of our society.
3. There will be money lost by investors or purchasers at some point.
4. I blogged about it partly to demonstrate that there are ways to analyze things using very basic principles to see if they’re possible.

13 the doctor August 14, 2009 at 5:53 pm

a local Toledo news station was allowed to drive the car 103 miles in september, and it took 2 gallons. 50 mpg is not even close to 110 mpg. Based on “entering” the xprize competition he was able to wangle $1.5 million from the Ohio state funded venture capital company Rocket Designs, which admits freely they never verified his claims though they are often quoted as having done so. He has leased his factory building ( not long term) and started hiring people off the street though no machines appear to have been delivered. Revenge Designs is signed as the official installer, you might remember them as building plastic body panels and grills for customizers. Despite his claims of letters of intent for 300,000 engines a year, he is still an operation that shows no signs of capabilities to even do the 20 a week.

14 noroadzone November 8, 2009 at 6:07 am

nice post.. this was really got my attention..this kind of new technology would definitely create popularity..

15 Steve Signorelli December 1, 2009 at 4:18 pm

how to accomplish the high HP/TQ and high MPG setup.

1) No matter what you need a nice and low drag coefficient, at speed that is what needs all the power to push it down the road.

2) Leverage the engine output in all ways possible, turbo’s and superchargers should be used in various configurations and have flexibility in level of engagement.

3) enhance efficiency with octane, water injection, high pressure injectors and ceramic coated everything

4) Engine management should be flexible enough to go from powering a single cylinder to all 8 at the same time.

5) regenerative braking…(for electric motor)

6) regenerative transmission…(for electric motor)

7) regenerative suspension…(for electric motor)

8) Solar roof to keep batteries happy…(for electric motor)

9) electric motor driving all engine accessories with computer managed clutches to engage and disengage as needed.

10) computer to mange distance between car in front of it to take advantage of drafting effects.

Combine all that and you will have a practical vehicle that gets 110mpg or better. At this point all the technologies I listed above exist…just not all in the same industry/company/vehicle/etc.

16 jk February 26, 2010 at 7:28 am

I haven’t gone through all the posts, so apologies if it somebody else scooped me:
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

17 Adam F MacAdam January 30, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Hello, I just met Doug at the Washington Auto show and saw his car. This is January 30th of 2011 and your article writen in July of 2008 indicating Doug is mad about loosing his job seems less likely now that he is still to0uting his car this many months and years latter. I also question what “scam” you are talking about? He isn’t asking for any moneyfrom you. He told me he needed to use E-85, or CNG because it was clean burning enough not to dirty the internal components of his engine which ignite the fuel. I suggest you give him another chance.

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