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aerohead 04-17-2010 04:17 PM

Count Ricotti and the 200 % Gas Tax
In 1913,wealth bought Italian,Count Ricotti,a custom-built Alfa Romeo which exhibits a design,modern even by today's standards if you look beyond the exposed wheels and undercarriage.
If modernized,this vehicle would exhibit a drag coefficient on the low end of the spectrum,perhaps Cd 0.125 and remarkable fuel economy.
In 2009,wealth bought Americans a HUMMER of Cd 0.51 or worse.
As HWY mpg varies as 50% of Cd,the 400 % drag increase of the HUMMER over Ricotti's Alfa would translate to a 200 % fuel penalty for the HUMMER.
So what creeps into my psyche,is that,when did wealthy people become stupid?
In a capitalist nation as the United States where the bottom line is worshiped first,and the well healed have bragging rights to an investment portfolio which returns record profits,why would they self impose a voluntary 200 % gasoline tax on themselves,and at great additional cost ?
These are the very people who could commission the construction of a modern day 'trompe le vent' wind deceiver car setting a high standard for return on investment,paying more than 50% less per gallon compared to the average commuter.
We presume these peoples wealth grew as a consequence of their superior abilities,knowledge,and access to discreet information within the arena in which they compete.
If the wealthy want to show off,they ought to consider demonstrating leadership,knowledge and wisdom as consumers,not obsess over winning the admiration of automatons who wouldn't recognize a pearl cast their way.
If a Congressman were to sponsor an amendment for a gasoline tax of any amount, it could spell the end of their political career.It would be 'onerous' legislation certain to wreck the economy.
And it would be fought by lobbyists payed for by the people who drive the HUMMERS and without a wimper, submit to a self-imposed 200% tax.
What happened?

gone-ot 04-17-2010 05:19 PM the late-great American humorist Will Rogers so rightfully mused: "...Congress, the best government that MONEY can BUY..."

jamesqf 04-18-2010 11:32 AM


Originally Posted by aerohead (Post 171008)
So what creeps into my psyche,is that,when did wealthy people become stupid?

Couple of things you're missing. First is that in 2009 America, wealth would also buy you a Tesla. Indeed, it's wealth that allowed the Tesla to be built. (And in 2010 America, wealth won't buy you a new Hummer.)

Second is that you notice that portion of the "wealthy" (which, with Hummers, extends well down into middle-class territory) who decide to drive a Hummer, but you don't notice the ones who don't. How many wealthy people were early adopters of the Prius?

There are some stupid rich people out there, who inherited their wealth, or made it in some way - like sports or popular "music" - in which intelligence isn't a requirement. But there are also plenty of smart ones.

RobertSmalls 04-19-2010 09:06 AM

The technology for super-aerodynamic bodies has been around for many, many years. People have been building streamliners all along, for salt flats runs, and human and solar powered vehicles. I'm sure that at some point, someone involved with one of these streamliners thought about building a daily driven one. But why give up the practicality and presentability, when all you have to gain is fuel economy?

A boat-tail would have been nice to have during the 1970's oil crisis. However, with a national speed limit of 55mph, aeromods had less of an impact than they would today. Plus, there was a lack of good donor platforms. Tall, square roofs mean the tail must be extremely long, to the point of requiring a trailer, which is too cumbersome for a daily driver. Also, back then, the vehicle's wake was just one of many major aerodynamic defects. Cd=0.13 would have required major rework of almost the entire car.

How many daily-driven streamlined cars are there in the USA? One? If there were instead a few dozen, it would be more likely that someone would see one, and ask an automotive customizer to build one.

However, if you don't build it yourself, it won't pay for itself in fuel savings. Nor will it serve your eco-vanity, because people don't currently know what boat-tailed cars are and why they should want one.

At the current price of gas, major automakers would be stupid to touch them. Just look at the reception that the Honda Crosstour recieved, then multiply its overall length by 1.5 and imagine what people would have said. Except perhaps for a few X-Prize contenders, streamlined cars will remain DIY endeavours.

Bicycle Bob 04-19-2010 02:46 PM

People use cars to express their values. Most of the money spent on them is wasted to show off wealth. A peacock's tail is mostly liability, but the peahens like it, so it became essential.

Frank Lee 04-19-2010 05:45 PM


I've noticed that in the region I'm visiting there are vast quantities of "exotic" and "luxury" vehicles, vs where I'm from where Benz', Porsches, Bentleys, Ferraris, etc. are so rarely seen they basically don't exist. Seems a little strange to me that the first thing one does when they get some money (or even worse, some access to credit!) is run out and buy an expensive vehicle. Were I to get a windfall, I'd put it into a house, or a trip, or something that really makes an impact in my life. What people don't seem to appreciate is that nobody gives a rat's *** about them and what they are in out on the street!

dcb 04-19-2010 09:40 PM

I'm not too keen on the peacock analogy, too many folks may see a cop-out opportunity there "hey it's in my genes, whaddawant?" While there are plenty examples of human societies that have learned to cherish thrift, respect for limited resources, utility.

I'm sure each has their own version of "peacockness" but I'd be willing to guess that just being "good" and acting in the villages best interests can have appeal at a societal and genetic level.

Frank Lee 04-20-2010 03:55 AM

Here, a pic is worth 1000 words...

jamminjimmy 04-20-2010 05:34 PM


Originally Posted by Bicycle Bob (Post 171264)
People use cars to express their values. Most of the money spent on them is wasted to show off wealth.

I agree.... People buy "stuff" to make themselves look good(and therefore feel better about themselves)..... If you're into documentaries, check out "The Century of The Self", put by the BBC(I think). It basically shows how Freud's theories have been put to use by marketing geniuses for almost a century, preying on our values and beliefs- to buy stuff we don't need... Kinda off topic, kinda on topic--- just wanted to share. Good thread!

Lazarus 04-20-2010 10:13 PM


Originally Posted by Frank Lee (Post 171351)

Hmm does not look very safe. I think I'll stick with the Hummer:p

I would love to drive that!

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