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Old 02-08-2010, 11:30 AM   #111 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by pgfpro View Post
I agree that payback is very important. I figure it would take me a couple years to pay off my modifications.
The point I was trying to make is that if you only worry about the economic benefits to yourself, you are going to limit yourself, not only creatively but also your level of craftsmanship. Ecomodding has an opportunity to become a brand new area of the Car Culture. But if you guys worry too much about nickles and dimes, you're going to limit your greatness.

Getting high fuel mileage is not always about dollars. A certain level of coolness has become associated with being green in certain circles, and some people are willing to pay more money than they will ever recover economically for that coolness - thus, hybrids.

For example, The Toyota Highlander Limited retails for $33,220. The Toyota Highlander Limited Hybrid retails for $41,220 - exactly $8,000 more. What does that get you? 9 mpg in the city and 1 mpg on the highway, and built in obsolescence on the batteries. You can do the math if you want to, but even if you drive that car a million miles, you will never come out ahead economically on that car.

So why do it? Well, for the coolness factor. A prius and a corvette serve the same function in that respect. Neither one is the most cost-effective way to achieve what they achieve, but they both look good doing it (to different groups, obviously).

So don't be afraid to calculate the true cost of your mods, including R&D time. Hell, I know guys who have spent 15 years modding one car. And it's generally the guys who are short on cash but long on time that come up with the truly original mods.

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Old 02-08-2010, 12:06 PM   #112 (permalink)
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Stonebreaker - thanks for raising some good points. (Loved your sprint vs. marathon analogy!)

As for why the mods you mentioned are or aren't on the list, mostly it comes down to whether or not we've seen it done for a well documented improvement in efficiency.

Roller cams are a known efficiency improver (Honda Insight 1st gen. had them on its 1.0L motor), but I don't know anyone who's done it and documented it (sounds like you do) in their back yard. When we initially made the list, we were reluctant to include tips that were theoretically possible, but no one had tackled.

If you can point to link-worthy examples of mods that should be on the list, please do.

On topic of bean-counting/cost effectiveness of mods, let's all remember there are multiple motivations. ....And then move on.

I personally don't do this primarily to save money (FYI, Christ: measured that way, the ForkenSwift is a giant money hole! Even if it only cost ~$1K out of pocket). I do it because it's inherently interesting to me and an enjoyable hobby.
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Old 02-08-2010, 12:35 PM   #113 (permalink)
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Well, here's a link to an interesting aero article. Although it's from a racer's viewpoint, all of the points they make are valid from an eco standpoint as well.

PS - According to the article, the guy that owns the wind tunnel was GM's lead aero engineer on the EV-1.
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Old 02-08-2010, 12:37 PM   #114 (permalink)
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pgfpro -

Your mods encompass a whole new arena, though. Nobody expects yours to pay off anyway :P

Darin -

How much of that "money hole" could be considered "normal" maintenance for a car as old as yours?

Stonebreaker -

I believe I've read that article before, from skimming it. I'll read it later again and see if it's something I remember reading in the past. Either way, thanks for posting it!
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Old 02-08-2010, 12:47 PM   #115 (permalink)
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pgfpro -

Your mods encompass a whole new arena, though. Nobody expects yours to pay off anyway :P

Darin -

How much of that "money hole" could be considered "normal" maintenance for a car as old as yours?

Stonebreaker -

I believe I've read that article before, from skimming it. I'll read it later again and see if it's something I remember reading in the past. Either way, thanks for posting it!
Christ I figured out the other day I could duplicate my mods if someone all ready had a civic/del sol with a 1.6L vtec for around $5500.00

But this would have them doing the engine R&I. In today's economy that's a chunk of change
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Old 02-08-2010, 12:51 PM   #116 (permalink)
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Christ I figured out the other day I could duplicate my mods if someone all ready had a civic/del sol with a 1.6L vtec for around $5500.00

But this would have them doing the engine R&I. In today's economy that's a chunk of change
And that already makes it over a $10,000 car in most cases. "The Sun"'s are fairly expensive in most cases, especially for one worth working on.

I'm not saying that it's not important for some people to go ahead and mod and never think about immediate return on investment, but for some of us, it's a priority, or at least something that needs to be seriously considered before approaching a mod.

I've done things that will never pay me back monetarily, just to say I did it. I mean, when will $3,000 in rock climbing gear get me anywhere? When I'm stuck in Borneo on a cliff running from a boar?

It's also important to remember that the money you spend now is an investment. At CURRENT PRICES, you may never get paid back, but guess what?! Fuel is GOING to get higher. It's not for debate, it's going to happen. And when it does, your payoff time for money invested at today's rates gets shorter, shorter, shorter.
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Old 02-08-2010, 12:52 PM   #117 (permalink)
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Stonebreaker: that article has made the rounds here a few times. But you're right: of the 5 aero mods listed, I don't think we have "cowl block" on the 65+ mods list. (Despite the fact I added a partial cowl block on my car after originally reading that piece.)

Christ: I can't massage the ForkenSwift into "money-saver" -- over any reasonable time frame -- regardless of how I look at it. Not saying it's impossible for someone to do it, just not in this car's case.
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Old 02-08-2010, 12:52 PM   #118 (permalink)
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Stonebreaker -

I believe I've read that article before, from skimming it. I'll read it later again and see if it's something I remember reading in the past. Either way, thanks for posting it!
Read the picture captions - they take a stock 70's camaro with a Cd of .49 to a Cd of .20 on the way to turning it into a 260 mph Bonneville racer.
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Old 02-08-2010, 12:54 PM   #119 (permalink)
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Stonebreaker: that article has made the rounds here a few times. But you're right: of the 5 aero mods listed, I don't think we have "cowl block" on the 65+ mods list. (Despite the fact I added a partial cowl block on my car after originally reading that piece.)

Christ: I can't massage the ForkenSwift into "money-saver" -- over any reasonable time frame -- regardless of how I look at it. Not saying it's impossible for someone to do it, just not in this car's case.
I was just asking to put it in perspective, not to try to wiggle it into "paid for" status.

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Read the picture captions - they take a stock 70's camaro with a Cd of .49 to a Cd of .20 on the way to turning it into a 260 mph Bonneville racer.
I skimmed through most of it, and I have read the article before, but I didn't have it saved for whatever reason. It's taken care of now, though. Thanks again for that!
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Old 02-08-2010, 01:01 PM   #120 (permalink)
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Oh, OK: well, in the ForkenSwift's specific case, the biggest hit against being a money saver is that is an additional car, not a replacement car. So my total cost of (mulitple) vehicle ownership has gone up many hundreds of dollars/year as a result -- mostly insurance & licensing. Total cost of ownership is increased well beyond any potential savings through lower electric vs. gas operating expenses over the few 1000's of kilometers of annual gasser use it displaces.

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