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Kyleyadon 11-21-2010 04:23 AM

Hello, long story short, I don't have a car at the moment, but I'm getting a 1974 Buick Apollo 4 door this coming Friday. Why? Because I have to have a car so I don't loose my job, and at $500 it's the only car I can afford. Well, that is the main reason anyway, but I do love classic cars, and a rare muscle car to boot. But while I do want it to perform well, my main priority for it is going to be fuel economy. The car is currently all original, except the tires. It has a 4.1 liter, 250 cubic inch inline six cylinder engine, and a 4 speed automatic transmission. It is my understanding that by reducing engine restriction with a high flow intake and exhaust I can improve HP and FE. How much improvement might I be able to expect from this? And what would be the best way to go about achieving the best results? Also, after seeing some of the articles on here about the aerodynamic mods, particularly the article on what car and driver did to a '73 pinto, I'm thinking about creating a custom nose for the car that while following the original angles should reduce the drag of a mostly flat and vertical nose, and perhaps some aerodynamic skirts over the wheel wells to prevent the air getting sucked in there. What recommendations can you guys make for my project?

bikin' Ed 11-22-2010 09:26 AM

Save your $$
The hi performance intake and exhaust won't show you much in mpg gains below 3000 rpm. As an ecomodder you'll rarely be there, so the current set up is about all you'll need.

If you've got money to burn,I'd first invest in a HEI system to help you get more out of the fuel that is being used. Find an old carburater pro to set up your carb -- maybe run it just a little bit leaner than spec.

Of course a grille block, electric fan (which will almost never come on),and a belly pan are always sure to help.:thumbup:

Kyleyadon 11-22-2010 02:48 PM

I agree with your suggestions. One of the first things I plan to do is rip out the smog pump, they dilute the emissions, not reduce them and are an unneeded drain on the motor. I plan to do most of the work myself and have been doing a lot of research into carburetors and feel confident to tune it myself, but I do agree with the value of getting advice from an experienced expert. From what the previous owner has told me about the car, I calculate that it's already getting around 20mpg, which is already slightly better than the EPA rating of 18mpg. My goal is to try a combination of engine and aero mods to see if i can get it up to around 30 or 35mpg.

This is a picture of the car in it's current state. It's obviously not aerodynamically ideal, but it could be worse. This model comes stock without side mirrors, they were optional in '74, so that's one step the right way already. Also this car already has the smaller engine offered in the Apollo. I do plan to do a radiator block and belly pan, as well as flat wheel covers and perhaps a shield for the wipers.

saand 11-22-2010 05:19 PM

kyleyadon, sounds like a fun project you have ahead of you.
Just a suggestion which you probably wont like but ill say it anyway, you will find it far easier to get higher MPG with a 2 liter manual. So if you still have a choice on cars then i would recommend looking around, it might save you money and time later on, I hope you can find another cheap car that is a bit more suited to ecomodding.
From my car modding i am getting close to 35mpg now and i starting to run out of easy to medium difficulty mods and i have a 2.1 L auto

To answer your question, i agree with the above post, i suspect your not likely to see much gain out of high flow intake and exhaust at a guess maybe 2%. I would be very happy to be proved wrong here though i have not seen any proper test data on people trying this mod.
You will get a large gain out of an electric radiator fan rather than a belted one (if that is what you have) also power steering delete however not sure if your model would have that.
anyway there are plenty more ideas for mods, have a look at the wiki if your after any other random ideas. It has cost and time estimates of most mods.

Kyleyadon 11-22-2010 05:57 PM

Well, my reasons for getting the car, in order of importance are: purchase price $500, lack of over complicating features such as engine control computers and such, ease of work since the engine compartment hasn't been compressed, classic style and character, interior room as i'm a kinda big guy and need the extra comfort space and I haul a lot of stuff pretty regularly. However, that said, I do agree with the value of your suggestion. My wife likes to refer to me as macgyver, seriously, fix one household appliance with duct tape and a wire coat hanger, lol... But actually I am very handy mechanically and have a wicked curiosity streak, so even I really can't say just what I may try with this car. I put some pics on my profile that give a rough idea of what I'm thinking about doing to the car aerodynamically, I invite everyone to take and look and let me know their thoughts, just please keep the criticism of my poor drawing skills to a minimum, lol.

mcrews 11-22-2010 06:02 PM

If you need tires anytime soon, and drive on the freeway more than 50% of the time. Think about going 1 size up. 215/70 to a 225/70 for example. That will lower the rpm a little bit and improve mpg.

Kyleyadon 11-22-2010 06:56 PM

I agree completely with this suggestion. In many cases taller and narrower tires help with fuel economy. In fact one thing that many don't realize is that when the EPA is evaluating vehicles they use vehicles that are set up with the options that maximize what they are evaluating. So the tires on that new honda civic, for example, that you just bought, may not be the same as the ones that were on the car that was evaluated to get the EPA's 32mpg rating.

Kyleyadon 11-28-2010 07:47 PM

Well, I've got the car. The carburetor needs tuning as it idles pretty rough, but otherwise it runs good. But speaking of the carburetor, it's a Rochester Monojet, that's right an honest to goodness single barrel carburetor. My old '71 vw beetle had a bigger carb. Should be a bonus to the fuel economy, assuming it's not restricting intake to the point of increasing engine load.

Kyleyadon 12-01-2010 08:25 PM

I've done my first "mod" on the car. When I got the car there was no knob on the shifter, so when I found a broken umbrella, with a nice wooden knob style handle, laying on the sidewalk after a nasty rainstorm today, I picked it up and recycled the handle for my shifter. It won't do anything to improve my mileage, but it's still eco-friendly because it's recycling.

endurance 12-01-2010 09:44 PM

How are you going to be driving this car? Mostly city (stop and go) or highway? The reason I ask is if it's primarily city, losing weight is going to gain you a lot more than aeromods. If you're mostly highway, aeromods and narrower/taller tires will give you the most bang for your buck.

Beyond this, a carb rebuild, an HEI ignition, and a tune up will help more than anything else for money spent on the engine. Buying a vacuum gauge to help guide you on your way to becoming a better hypermiler would be a good start, too. Read the 101+ hypermiling techniques over and over. There's so much there that even after doing this for a couple months now, I'm still learning and refining my technique everytime I re-read the tips in there. The greatest difference you can make in mpg is adjusting the nut behind the wheel. Of the 50% over EPA improvement that I've seen, 90% of that is changing the way I drive with perhaps 10% going to tire pressure and grill block.

While I think 30mpg is going to be a stretch, I wouldn't say it's impossible if you focus on your technique and keep the car in perfect tune.

Kyleyadon 12-02-2010 08:56 AM

Thank you very much for your feedback, endurance. It's all quite useful information, and actually almost all things I was planning on doing anyway. I read the hypermiling tips, and almost all of them are things that I was trained to do as a bus driver. This weekend I'm planning on doing a rebuild on the carburetor. A tune up and new ignition will follow as soon as I can afford the parts I want, I'm debating between MSD and Mallory for the ignition parts I want. I do a fair bit of highway driving and need the extra weight for traction during the winter, so I probably won't do too much to drop weight. I do want to eventually replace the 3 speed auto with a 4 speed manual, and since that's going to be a bit expensive to do in the first place, I want to couple the 4 speed manual with a gear splitter overdrive from gear vendors. But as for my goal for the car, I'll just say this "Aim for the stars. If you miss and land on the moon, you still get a pretty good view."

Kyleyadon 12-19-2010 01:32 AM

Well, I've done a thorough strip and clean on the carburetor, and replaced the spark plugs, and tuned the distributor. The car is purring like a kitten, if that kitten happens to sound like a full grown bengal tiger. While the rough idle problem has been fixed and the car is running smoother than ever, it now diesels, perhaps it would have before if it hadn't had so much trouble just running at all. This first tank is a waste, I burned half of it trying to figure out the problem with the distributor and only covered about 20 miles. But I still believe that everything can be fixed and I still feel confident in the achievability of a 30mpg fuel economy.

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