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Car Guys and the Gas Savers

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

Car Guys and the Gas Savers

Bill Crittenden
October 20, 2013


"Car guys" are a special breed.  Vehicles aren't just transportation, they're symbols of status, an extension of our soul, a way to express our personality to the world.  Sometimes, they're even considered members of the family.

More often than not, we love big cars with big engines that, for most purposes, burn excessive amounts of fuel making excessive amounts of horsepower.

Not everyone thinks this way.  Usually folks that love muscle cars mock their little Toyota Echoes with the Hello Kitty bumper stickers.  The Gee Whiz and the Toyota Prius have been favorite targets of hypercar-driving Top Gear hosts in previous years.

As someone who respects the variety of life and culture, I think it's necessary for us car guys to actually say, "thank you," to the environmentalists and economy car drivers among us.

While some lament that the mass market's attitude towards cars has resulted in a lot of bland crossovers, or too many Japanese cars, or front wheel drive replacing rear wheel drive, or the disappearance of body-on-frame construction, we have to acknowledge that not everybody is the same.  For so many, a car is just basic transportation, a decision made with a calculator and an issue of Consumer Reports rather than nostalgia, adrenaline, and an issue of Car and Driver.  And just as car guys would hate being forced into a Prius so too would the Prius owners I know hate being forced into a Challenger.  We have to respect their choices if we expect them to respect ours.

Now, one step further, from respect to thanks.  You see, were the world a perfect car guy playground, the entire automobile market geared towards American muscle and rear drive V8s, you can be sure that the demand on resources such a fleet would create would drive gasoline far above the $3.39 a gallon I paid for it yesterday.  You see, every Fiesta, Scion iQ, Prius and Tesla out on the roads today ensure that when we pull our Mustangs, Chargers, and Corvettes up to the pump there's enough left in the station's tanks to fill 'er up and still a few bucks left over after paying for it for a Slim Jim and a Coke.

On Top Gear, Jay Leno compared the coming of fuel cell vehicles to the rise of the automobile itself, saving the horse and taking it from a whipped beast of burden to an animal appreciated for its beauty in hobby and in sport.

Remember, the first major push for economy cars came when America's gasoline was very suddenly choked off, and every Nissan Leaf sold today helps ensure that that sort of event doesn't happen again, or if it did American roads wouldn't grind to a stop.

So next time you blow by a Toyota Prius in something with 400 horsepower, don't mock the driver for having different priorities.  Thank them for being so generous in leaving enough gasoline at the station so that your V8-powered car can be more than a garage decoration.



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