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Old 07-05-2008, 07:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Are we ready for minimalism?

I'm scrounging materials to start doing mods on my truck - it's getting priority because it gets the better mileage of my two rides, and because it only seats two people. When there's only one or two people to go anywhere, my gas-saver has a better chance of getting used.

Does anyone besides me remember the HMVFreeway?

I'm utterly incapable of inserting a photo of the Freeway; I just got done blowing about 30 minutes trying to make it happen. Trust me, it's cute, it's small, and it got up to 100mpg using a Tecumseh lawn tractor engine.

Mother Earth News loved that thing; it inspired them to start building their own. I just liked it because it's a fellow Minnesotan. But the thing that grabs me more is that of all the cars I see every morning, as much as 60% of them are only carrying one person. Seventy-five percent of the rest are only carrying two. It's a really small portion of the motoring population that's rolling with a significant number of seats filled, and so many of those cars are HUGE. But now the huge cars are getting parked in the yard with a FOR SALE sign in the windshield, and small, lightweight econoboxes like the Metro are enjoying that rarest of rarities, an increase in value on the used car market.

I've noticed that a lot of us are willing to accept a few sacrifices for better fuel economy, including fewer or tighter seats in the Insight or Metro, lower speeds in general, and many of us are opting to power our commute with ham sandwiches. Are we getting close to an environment where minimalist transportation options like the Freeway can find a market?

Anybody want to weigh in with an opinion on this? I'm still going to add cladding to the truck, but a little side project like a homebrew Freeway or a super aero nacelle a la Craig Vetter for my '81 Honda Express moped might not be out of the question. It's all a matter of time and money.

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Old 07-05-2008, 07:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Freeway Pics

Freeway pics:





These are from a page with a few for sale.
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Old 07-05-2008, 08:43 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Still see 'em once in a while on the road in MN.
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Old 07-06-2008, 12:33 AM   #4 (permalink)
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yep seen them up here in Minnesota a few years ago.. cool little cars. This is also one of the ideas were using in inspiration in the thread of the 50cc micro car tread.. three wheeled to qualify as a motorcycle, and under 50cc as in many states under 50cc you don't need licensing or a drivers license to drive it.

For a commuter vehicle all that needed is dry semi heated/cooled space for one person and some cargo room for carry on luggage and or a few bags of groceries
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Old 07-06-2008, 01:28 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elhigh View Post
I've noticed that a lot of us are willing to accept a few sacrifices for better fuel economy, including fewer or tighter seats in the Insight or Metro...
The problem with that is that I don't regard two seats in a small (and preferrably nimble) package as a sacrifice, but as something to be sought after. To me, driving a 4/5 seat sedan would be the sacrifice (and an SUV only under serious threat). I've felt this way as far back as I can recall: when my contemporaries were lusting after the latest muscle cars, I drooled over the old MG/TC that a neighbor had.

Same applies to biking to work - or bike touring vacations through Europe & North America. The sacrifice is when I have to drive, or when (as I sometimes do) I have to travel by plane & car, and stay in hotels...
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Old 07-06-2008, 12:54 PM   #6 (permalink)
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While I think you would find plenty of takers here on the forum, the public at large would scoff at such basic transportation. They might be willing to squeeze into something smaller, but if it didn't feel like a car - no way. Motorcycles have a sport/performance connotation. Things like the Freeway are regarded as a curiosity with a certain "hairshirt" quality to them. Then when someone dies in an accident they would be labelled "deathtraps".
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Old 07-06-2008, 12:54 PM   #7 (permalink)
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here's the thing

I like living
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Old 07-06-2008, 04:19 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
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here's the thing

I like living
I feel that. Even so, I think that argument isn't entirely appropriate. Many of us are driving older vehicles that couldn't begin to compete in a crash test. What's the rating on your 20-yr-old Benz? I don't doubt it's going to fare better than a contemporary econobox, but will it stack up as well against a 10-yr-old Corolla? Or a brand-new Yaris?

We could take an awful lot of what we've learned about building tough, crashworthy cars and write it very small, pack it into a flyweight package and power it with a super modest engine. 250ccs gets you down the road at ticket-me speeds and delivers fuel economy that we have to sweat bullets to achieve right now, but does it with the AC and stereo on. And all of that can happen inside a shell that keeps you out of the weather and more or less out of some mouthbreathers grille.

Even if I don't take the blue sky approach of imagining a car built to high production standards in the thousands by some corporation like GM, I can still see how it wouldn't be impossible to build a one-off in my backyard that would deliver on some of these potentials. It could provide some crash protection, deliver on the weather protection, and maybe even have AC, but not guarantees on that last.
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Old 07-06-2008, 04:43 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elhigh View Post
I feel that. Even so, I think that argument isn't entirely appropriate. Many of us are driving older vehicles that couldn't begin to compete in a crash test. What's the rating on your 20-yr-old Benz? I don't doubt it's going to fare better than a contemporary econobox, but will it stack up as well against a 10-yr-old Corolla? Or a brand-new Yaris?
I know that if I rear end a prius I wont die. My car has crumple zones, safety belts with pre tensioners, bumpers with shocks in them, safety glass, big, soft steering wheel, and a pedigree of safety. I have seen my car in accidents and people have walked away



the w123 came with airbags in europe, adjustable headlights in europe, self leveling suspension, ABS, heated headlights in some parts of the world, a safety cell, superior crumple zones and like I said, the pedigree that the Mercedes line carries
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Old 07-06-2008, 07:28 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I know that if I rear end a prius I wont die.
The question which immediately springs to mind is why you'd want to rear-end a Prius in the first place? The least it will do is boost your auto insurance rates. Why not concentrate on driving in such a way that you won't rear-end anyone?

Quote:
I have seen my car in accidents and people have walked away...
Sure, and I've seen pictures of Honda Insights that have been in pretty bad accidents, from which the people walked away.

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