Super Cheap High MPG Cars: 1978-1981

Looking for a car that gets crazy great gas mileage but don’t want to spend a lot of cash? This list of knuckle-busting (can we call them classic?) small cars from 1978 through 1981 haul down some impressive gas mileage figures and can be had for chump change … if you’re handy.

It’s not just that they’re cheap … these cars are past the magic 25-year point that may actually make them qualify as antique cars, dependent on state regulations. While the thought of a rusty old Dodge Omni or Plymouth Horizon with historic plates might lead to hysterics, the owner can take solace in those remarkably high gas mileage figures.

The possibilities run from wannabe exotics to the work-a-day. Imagine finding a Dodge De Tomaso, under a tarp in a barn … only to realize that it’s not only "the Italian sports car from Detroit," it’s worthy of a 50 mile per gallon highway rating. Need to haul around some stuff? How about a 1980 Chevy Luv pickup truck that pulls down 53 miles per gallon on the highway? We sure could use some of those small diesel pickup trucks today …

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Fuel Efficient 1978-1981 Cars

Year Manufacturer Model Engine Disp Trans City Highway
1981 DODGE OMNI 4 M4 30 50
1981 PLYMOUTH HORIZON 4 M4 30 50
1981 DODGE 024/DE TOMASO 4 M4 30 50
1981 PLYMOUTH TC3/TURISMO 4 M4 30 50
1981 FORD ESCORT 4 1.6 M4 28 44
1981 LINCOLN-MERCURY LYNX 4 1.6 M4 28 44
1981 FORD ESCORT WAGON 4 1.6 M4 27 42
1981 HONDA CIVIC 4 1.3 M4 32 40
1981 HONDA CIVIC 4 1.3 M5 31 41
1981 HONDA CIVIC 4 1.5 M5 32 42
1981 HONDA CIVIC WAGON 4 1.5 M5 30 40
1981 ISUZU I-MARK 4 M5 27 40
1981 ISUZU I-MARK 4 M4 41 51
1981 ISUZU I-MARK 4 M5 37 49
1981 DATSUN 210 4 M5 31 44
1981 DATSUN 210 WAGON 4 M5 31 44
1981 B11 WAGON 310 4 M4 30 41
1981 B11 WAGON 310 4 M5 28 40
1981 B11 WAGON 510 4 M5 29 40
1981 RENAULT LE CAR 4 1.4 M4 29 40
1981 DODGE COLT 4 M4 34 45
1981 DODGE COLT 4 D4 32 41
1981 PLYMOUTH CHAMP 4 M4 34 45
1981 PLYMOUTH CHAMP 4 D4 32 41
1981 DODGE COLT 4 D4 31 41
1981 PLYMOUTH CHAMP 4 D4 31 41
1981 MAZDA GLC 4 1.5 M4 35 43
1981 MAZDA GLC 4 1.5 M5 35 45
1981 MAZDA GLC WAGON 4 1.5 M4 31 41
1981 MAZDA GLC WAGON 4 1.5 M5 31 43
1981 TOYOTA STARLET 4 M5 36 50
1981 VOLKSWAGEN JETTA 4 M5 25 40
1981 VOLKSWAGEN JETTA 4 M5 41 57
1981 DATSUN PICKUP 2WD 4 M4 37 47
1981 DATSUN PICKUP 2WD 4 M5 38 51
1981 AUDI 4000 4 M5 26 41
1981 SUBARU SUBARU 4 1.6 M4 32 43
1981 SUBARU SUBARU 4 1.6 M5 32 44
1981 SUBARU SUBARU 4 1.8 M5 28 40
1980 HONDA CIVIC 4 1.5 M4 32 41
1980 HONDA CIVIC 4 1.5 M5 32 45
1980 HONDA CIVIC 4 1.5 M4 32 41
1980 HONDA CIVIC 4 1.5 M5 32 45
1980 DATSUN 210 4 M5 29 41
1980 DATSUN 210 WAGON 4 M5 29 41
1980 DATSUN 310 4 M5 29 41
1980 DATSUN 510 4 M5 30 42
1980 DODGE COLT 4 D4 31 43
1980 PLYMOUTH CHAMP 4 D4 31 43
1980 DODGE COLT 4 D4 31 41
1980 PLYMOUTH ARROW 4 M5 27 40
1980 PLYMOUTH CHAMP 4 D4 31 41
1980 MAZDA GLC 4 1.4 M5 30 42
1980 MAZDA GLC WAGON 4 1.4 M5 30 42
1980 VOLKSWAGEN JETTA 4 M5 26 40
1980 DATSUN PICKUP 2WD 4 M4 39 48
1979 FORD FIESTA 4 1.6 M4 26 40
1979 HONDA CIVIC 4 1.5 M5 28 41
1979 DATSUN 210 4 M5 27 41
1979 DATSUN 310 4 M5 27 40
1979 DODGE COLT HATCH 4 D4 32 43
1979 DODGE COLT HATCH 4 M4 32 42
1979 MIRADA CHAMP 4 D4 32 43
1979 MIRADA CHAMP 4 M4 32 42
1979 DODGE COLT HATCH 4 D4 30 42
1979 MIRADA CHAMP 4 D4 30 42
1979 MAZDA GLC 4 M4 30 40
1979 MAZDA GLC 4 M5 30 42
1979 MAZDA GLC WAGON 4 M5 29 41
1978 FORD FIESTA 4 1.6 30 43
1978 CIVIC CIVIC 4 34 43
1978 ACCORD ACCORD 4 35 45
1978 CIVIC CIVIC 4 33 41
1978 ACCORD ACCORD 4 31 42
1978 DATSUN B-210 4 1.4 29 40

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119 thoughts on “Super Cheap High MPG Cars: 1978-1981”

  1. In reference to the old luvs and isuzus trucks (diesels). My friend drove one and at around 50 horse it would kill in first on super steep hills and you would have to back down. My son drives a 80 4wd luv (gas) and city mpg is great but hwy mpg isn’t too good (I live in the Black Hills and have to floor it to get anywhere). Gets about 24 mpg in town when driven nice.

  2. I owned two Olds Cutlass Sierras, one an ’87 and one a ’91. They were both equipped with the 2500 engine, (4-cylinder), affectionately known as the ‘iron duke’ because of the cast iron heads and both of them consistently averaged 32 mpg wherever I drove. Unfortunately, that engine had nylon timing gears, and they tended to break at about 180,000 miles. Both of mine did that and at an estimate of $1200.00 to fix them, I just let them go. Try to find a Cutlass Sierra with that engine, today. They are few and far between.

  3. well i just can t say the same about my 1989 mazda b2200 with carburetor it gets“a very poor gas`mileage about 19mpg on hwy, is really a nice truck my father gave it to me very well taking care of it but it sucks on gas“i was wondering if i can find“a better carburetor that fix“to it for better gas mileage.

  4. I had a 79 Plymouth Champ.. it got 44mpg on the hwy all day long .. in the 30s in the city.. even squeezed 50mpg out of it a few times…

    Now we are … 30 yrs later… and you don’t see these types of numbers..

    if the car were avail again, I’d buy it.. instead of these $10-$20k cares that brag about 30 mpg hwy.. what a joke…

    what happened over the last 30 yrs?

  5. I owned a 1976 Ford Granada my Grandfather bought new and gave to me in highschool it was an inline 6 3 on the tree manual everything I got 28 mpg in town and 34 on the highway at 70mph and it wasn’t a light car by any means so why should I be impressed by a car made in 2008 getting 34 mpg ? it’s time we as a country demand more efficient car’s like the Mini Cooper D or the Opel D.

  6. When asked why the chevy metro was discontinued..the reply from GM was that the sales volume was too low and not profitable. So it was consumer choice that brought about their demize. But they do continue to built high mileage cars all around the world. So why is it so hard to switch back to high mileage cars or detune the models they have now?

  7. i saw an ad on TV for a new V8 Toyota SUV… it sickens me that the are STILL churning out gas guzzlers in this time of CRISIS i still have my 81′ honda and its running better than ever. the future is worse than any of use could have predicted. forget turbo charged V-6 we need 70 hp not 250! we need 50+ mpg not 20! we had the technology 30 years ago, america has gotten worse after the 80’s america has become a fat child of its former self my little honda SHOULD be the way of the future but sadly the new accords are getting 6 mpg worse than my 1st gen accord. we need to fight for cars with 2.0ltr or less under the hood. laws need to be passed. bush needs to be fired. its horrifying to see $4.11/gal on the boards and 21mpg on the window sticker the 80’s was the best decade america was GOOD back then. the 90’s wasnt too bad either. 2000- now is ridiculous, turn around and ask yourself “wtf happened?” … if only we had doc browns DeLorean, id stay in the eighty’s forever

  8. The problem with modern “fuel efficient” cars and yesterdays “fuel efficient” cars is that a modern car weights 500 to 700lbs or more than its older siblings did. Weight costs mileage more than engine size and power does. Why do cars weigh more? Blame gov’t and insurance lobbies and regulations for side impact, roll over, stiffer chassis and other safety gadgets. And the push (marketing BS) by automakers toward bigger “Accords” and “Camrys” and to make it appear there is progress in that. The 1981 “Accord” weighs from 2500 to 2800 lbs depending on options. Today’s accord weighs from 3300 to a whopping 3600+lbs depending on options. That is anywhere from 500 to 1000lbs more weight to haul around. That doesn’t factor in how much fatter the average American is now too. Family of 4 in 1980 500lbs today 800lbs?

  9. Had a ’80 Plymouth Champ(Dodge Colt) 4 speed. It had 2 valves per cylinder plus a tiny third intake valve that actuated at low rpms to swirl incoming air-fuel mixture for more complete combustion. Sounded theoretical, but while feather footing, Champ AVERAGED 42MPG for 10+ years & hit 50+MPG on the road carrying 3 people, camping gear & presents. Passed many behemoth coughing vehicles above 12,000 feet. Fold-down seats for catnaps. Great visibility all around. I’ve heard 300,000 miles were obtained by numerous people. Mine banged up logging roads to mountain trailheads, went to National Parks & went exploring many National monuments people didn’t see from highways. After 22 years & 150,000 miles I sold mine. Still saw it running around town 2 years later.

    My 1988 Ford Festiva is even better. I still drive it. I knew it was good & saved it for the $4+ per gallon gas that I knew was coming. Festiva averaged 45MPG for a decade & hit 53MPG packed with lots of camping & camera gear.

  10. Well …
    I think everyone will agree since we had the know how since the 80’s … Then we still have the know how in present times … To create a fuel efficient car for the masses …

    You can not tell me we do not know how to make a lite car that is safe (we can easily use carbon fiber)
    build in needed air bags and roll cages …
    Then also use extremely efficient and clean air flow over said car … use a very fuel efficient 3 or 4 cylinder (made also of extreme lite weight materials and adding all we know of computer aided advances and regenitive braking) and use additives to further enhance combustion

    If we use modern knowledge of lite weight materials then we can make a modern day VW Rabbit or Jetta and instead of 40 to 55 mpg of 25+ yrs ago but obtain at a minimum of 100 mpg and more then likely obtain 150 to 300 mpg (all while decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels and cleaning up the environment )

    Today a freakin Corvette can see 30+ mpg
    So a modern Rabbit should do at least 3 times the Vette.

    If we truly were to go full speed ahead with electric cars and trucks, we would greatly decrease damage to the environment while also decreasing the expense of running our cars (both in fuel and maintenance) and would not have to worry about a slow car (in either acceleration or top speed or even in torque)

    So why so few electric cars
    car companies will make far far less
    (this is in part why they instead push the dual fuel cars, so they have a combustion engine needing maintenance and can keep gas companies off their backs)

    It is up to us
    to force car companies to comply to the needs of the public.

    if current car companies refuse to do so
    then we need to do so on our own

    I used to think i was smart back in the day driving a 74 Bricklin (since was a huge leap ahead in safety at the time)

    We need to think of the Global Picture more and more
    We need to be smarter and better (and we can)

  11. I think we have problem here Houston. These figures are not accurate. I have owned many of the cars listed, worked on these cars, and can assure anyone the figures listed are in fact incorrect. Old mpg estimates were inaccurate of everyday driving. Check out any site comparing old to new EPA estimates. You are better off staying clear of these vehicles and saving your time and money. IN particular, I would strongly suggest to stay away from any American made (including VW’s made in America) vehicle. You’re better off to get a bicycle, then maybe you will get about 40-50 mpg (on milk or water). I was not going to post, but I really would hate to hear about someone buying one of these junkers to find out it would cost more to fix, than to just buy a newer used vehicle, take a second job to pay the difference and be happier for it.

  12. Talked highly of my ’88 Ford Festiva, tho I hinted its best MPG days were behind it. Recently changed sparkplug wires & timing belt & WOW…..MPG is back better than ever! While traveling through mountains, three tanks in a row averaged 51.8 MPG. The last tank(50.8MPG) had a total elevation gain & loss of 11,000 feet! I don’t think a Prius could run thru the mtns, keep its battery pack up & get that MPG. Sure I have to feather foot. But that just means a good feather footing driver is part of the high MPG package. Modern small cars can get over 10MPG over the EPA highway MPG, if you feather foot them. I drove my wife’s 2008 Hyundai Accent to 45MPG while going over a 1400 foot low mountain pass. One fellow averages 48MPG in his Honda Fit. Another person feather footed his Toyota Yaris to 60MPG traveling thru Yellowstone Nat’l Park. These are travel MPG, which normally are higher than everday driving MPG. But careful feather footing in everyday traffic should have you averaging the EPA highway MPG if you’re not always bogged down in stop & go traffic. So do it!

  13. It’s sad that there are cars all over the world that get better gas mileage than our American cars. I just read in Car and Driver, Sept 2008, that despite the woes that the U.S. car industry has Ford of Europe is making money. How? Sell cars people want. Simple, small, affordable and best of all get great gas mileage, not to mention much better built. The other markets get better vehicles. Period. U.S. safety standards are to blame for the weight of the vehicles in the U.S. Maybe if we just reduce the weight of the vehicles (quit building two and a half to three ton monstrosities (SUV’s)) and maybe 100 mpg really isn’t that far. It’s not the automakers fault. Americans seem to think that we need to have a huge vehicle to feel safe. It’s not true. Look at the carbon fiber race cars. I’d rather be in one of those in a wreak that an SUV. If the government quit looking at the engine and power source and focus on the obscene weight of the vehicles. Really 4100 lbs. for a new Challenger. A sports car? A GT? Hardly. Our desire for bigger is better is out of hand. I say a 10% reduction in ALL vehicle weight, not an average, ALL.

  14. talking about mileage how about a 1981 escort gl station wagon. it gets 35 in town an 43 on the rode. its no bolt of lightin but when gas in n.c. was4.00 a gal. i felt like a god. paid 400.00 an invested about 800.00 . complete tune up transmision inspection and cv gm chrysler an ford wants a bailout!they could build cars in the 80s with great mileage.they can do it now. greed is the root of all evil. phil

  15. Hi, I’ve been driving the same 1978 Honda Accord for the last 30 years. I have always kept mileage records and the lifetime average mileage has been 33 MPG. I typically get mid to high 30’s on the freeway and high 20’s around town. Best ever was 47.3 MPG on a trip where I was very careful to keep my foot out of the throttle. It really makes you wonder why 30 year old technology (no computers, carb, points and condensor) still gets better mileage than most of the high tech autos today.

  16. These figures must be ********. Mileage is actually lower now than 30 years ago? Pure bunkum.

    Here’s current:

    Top 5 Most Fuel Efficient American Cars:

    1. Ford Escape Hybrid – 36 mpg city / 31 mpg highway
    2. Chevy Aveo – 26 mpg city / 35 mpg highway
    3. Ford Focus – 26 mpg city / 34 mpg highway
    4. Chevy Cobalt – 25 mpg city / 34 mpg highway
    5. Ford Fusion – 24 mpg city / 32 mpg highway

    Top 5 Most Fuel Efficient Japanese Cars:

    1. Honda Insight – 60 mpg city / 66 mpg highway
    2. Toyota Prius – 60 mpg city / 51 mpg highway
    3. Honda Civic Hybrid – 49 mpg city / 51 highway
    4. Toyota Corolla – 32 mpg city / 41 mpg highway
    5. Toyota Matrix – 30 mpg city / 36 mpg highway

  17. @murcuryvapor You’ll just have to suspend your disbelief. Mileage is lower for a number of reasons. A great many of the cars of that era were dramatically lighter then the current models. Less weight = better mileage.

    That having been said, the EPA reporting procedures have been altered a number of times along the way (some of the earliest figures were said to be overly optimistic). The latest lowering included revisionist measures that lowered previously stated figures. We’re not in the business of rewriting history, so we display the data as originally published.

  18. I had a 1985 Volvo 760 GLE turbo diesel that got a best of 38 MPG on the road. It is relaxing in the back yard now as I quit driving it years ago. I recently thought about resurrecting it with a clutch, clutch cable, rear main seal, and a few other items but it is to much for me as the price of diesel went down. I do think it would make a great powerplant for elec./? though. If anyone has one and can share info on this year model, let me know.

  19. I bought an 81 Starlet new – it had the 1.3L but scooted (well that’s relative, I guess) but it DID get incredible mileage. Think it was actually EPA rated at 39/54 by ’81 standards.

  20. I just bought a 1979 Subaru FE which I had owned years ago. I got and get 54mpg! Interesting that all of these cars are 30 year old technology! What is wrong with this picture? If you want good gas mileage – junk the new one and restore an old one!

  21. I owned a 1981 Datsun 210 (my first car – I bought from my father) and remember my road trip to Florida AVERAGING 45mpg (speed limit was 55 back then). I sold it with 178K miles – still running great – and now twenty some years later wish I had it back.

  22. My 79 Datsun 620 gets about 40-45 MPG on average.
    It needs to be restored because of the rust (been sitting out in the weather) but the engine is still running strong.
    It has 120,000 miles on it, and will probably go another 200,000 before the engine needs to be rebuilt. The engine is an L20B, 1952 cc (2 liter) 95 horsepower engine. =D

  23. these numbers are WRONG. i recently watched an old GM dealer’s video from the 80’s showing their gas mileage ratings. the estimates were WAYYYYY off-target. we’ve all driven these cars and NONE have gotten as high as stated. i literally laughed when i saw the mpg’s listed on that video. how’d they get away with that B.S. ?!

  24. The guy in Huntsville AL did make a Caddy get way high gas mileage by putting a stainless steel screen on the fuel line going into the carb and I know of ppl who have done this and got about 20+ more MPG. But you have to adjust a lot of things perfectly like airflow and other stuff and lose a little HP but not really noticed unless your a speed demon. And for what I was told Ford bought his patent and locked it up for future use 30 years ago. I lived in Huntsville at the time. Others have done other carb mods and got some big bucks from oil and car companies since. But I don’t think there’s anything left you can do without patent infringement.

  25. I don’t know what the folks who put together the MPG table have been smoking, but the mpg claims are fantastically silly.

    I have had considerable experience with VWs of that era, having owned a 1978 Rabbit four-door, a 1980 Scirocco, a 1981 Rabbit two-door, and a 1982 Rabbit convertible. My day-in, day-out driving, when I was commuting 250 miles a week to and from work, was about 50-50 highway and suburban. I consistently got 27 mpg. In straight highway driving my mpg was in the low 30s. Both of those figures are consistent with the EPA ratings. I had several friends who also owned Rabbits. None of them ever claimed to get anywhere near 40 mpg. I also had friends who owned Omnis and Horizons. The claims that those cars got 50 mpg on the highway are just as silly (unless you’re talking about driving a steady 40 mph) – their mpg was comparable to what I got with my VWs.

  26. The mileage is way too optimistic for the Dodge DeTomaso. I bought a 1980 new and drove it over 150,000 miles for over 21 years. 35 mpg was the absolute highest it was capable on the highway and it could not do that consistently.

  27. @Lance – Were you driving VW diesels or conventional gassers? The diesel-powered cars delivered much higher numbers than the conventional gas-powered versions.

  28. I have owned a 1983 Honda accord 5spd since May 08 and routinely get 36+ MPG in mixed driving. I am not a real conservative driver, so I could probably even get a bit better if I really tried. Compared to my 1990 Chevy 2500 work truck’s 13mpg, I have saved $$$$ over the last 1.5 years. Some of these numbers may be a bit inflated, but driving habits play a huge role in actual mileage. Just read some of the comments from peoples actual #s.
    Recently we bought a 76 Datsun 620 pickup for my son. It is a 2.0L automatic and still needs some work before it is road worthy. Do you have any idea what kind of mileage #s we could expect once its tuned up and ready to go?

  29. Agreed. The 70s and 80s economy cars could get away with high MPG because they were not saddled with emissions and safety gear. Legislated by our wonderful US government, mind you. If a new Corvette can get 30mpg highway, why does an Aveo get only 34? It is ridiculous.

  30. I owned a Plymouth TC Horizon HF, a 1980. I bought it new and it was EPA RATED for 50 MPG Highway and it really got that kind of mileage in highway driving. The HF was a special designation where it only was available with a stick and fifth gear was different than the standard version of the car. I distinctly remember reading about it in Consumer Reports who commented that this increase in highway mileage was accomplished with “the magic of gear ratios”.

  31. Thank you for this list! I figure that, given the age of the estimates, they’re probably inaccurate, but I’m using them as a guideline for what to buy next. Thank you a bunch for putting this together! It’s a lot easier to view things like this than hunt through webpages and try to find any lists for mpg that exist for older cars.

  32. Very informative! I wish this list also covered many more of the European automobiles of the time. Kudos to VW, Renault, & Audi making the list! Peugeot? Volvo? Saab? Does anyone know of that link or list? +_+

  33. I will tell you that I owned a 1987 Lincoln Mark VII which weighs around 3700 pounds and it got 26 miles to the gallon. I could drive from Baton Rouge to Atlanta George on a tank and have 1/4 tank left. The distance is around 500 miles.

  34. I had 1980 Plymouth Champ (paid premium on top of the dealer sticker, Iranian hostage incident and fuel shortage..).
    My typical MPG was arond 42-48 normal driving. However, I tested the MPG one day on a trip from San Diego to Los Angeles, and got an amazing 54.7 MPG for the trip, driving at 55MPH. Where are these type of cars today?????

  35. i know this is a little newer, but i own a 1990 dodge spirit. i watched this site for a bit and was pleased with the mileage that you were getting, so i tried to get the best mileage i could get. after driving for a while, i averaged 30 mpg’s in the city and 45 on the highway. i only have a 3 speed auto so i have to be easy on the gas to get good mileage. i like my car because it has a total of 97 cubic feet on the inside and also a 14 cubic foot trunk. it also has a great ride to it. it does not take corners too fast, but in return, it absorbs a lot of the bumps on the city roads.

  36. I have a 1997 Toyota Tercel with a manual tranny. Over the last three fill-ups I have averaged 42.5 miles per gallon. I am very impressed with this. I am with the other people on this board. We have cars that got over 40mpg in the 1980’s. Why is it such a new thing now to have a car that can get that much now. Yeah car companies have to be holding back . Let gas prices jump up to 4-5 bucks a gallon and I bet you will see some of that high mpg tech come back. That or people will be at the scrapyard trying to find some of those smaller cars that got good mpg. Right now I am on a quest to find the Toyota Starlet. 52mpg. you betcha. Carb’d engine not a damn hybrid and that car got that kind of mileage. Yeah we should have cars now that get into at least the 80’s in mpg. Where are they?

  37. How come there is no mention of the chevette/t1000 diesels ? You listed the chevy luv 2.2D,which they both are engines built by Isuzu. I have a 1986 t1000 1.8L D and I drive all over the country in this car at 65/70mph and get 40 to 45 mpg and better in the city. I have two more to get road worthy. (1984 chevette diesel/1981 Isuzu I-mark diesel)

  38. @jim The diesel engine was introduced late in the Chevette’s 1981 model year … it’s listed on the ’82 & up Cheap High MPG pages.

  39. I just bought a 1983 Chevette w/ 4 speed last month. I LOVE it! It gets over 30 MPG in mixed simple (i.e. cheap & easy to fix if it ever breaks) and is a lot sturdier than the Jap cars (It’s built like a tank!)….for $500…has no rust and a new motor! I wouldn’t spit on these new cars- over-priced garbage!

  40. We need 70 hp not 250! we need 50+ mpg not 20! we had the technology 30 years ago, America has gotten worse after the 80′s America has become a fat child of its former self if only we had doc browns DeLorean, id stay in the eighty’s forever. WE don’t have to sacrifice power for mpg, the powers that be can be sent a strong message W/ your back pocket vote, that is but one means at our disposal. Fat stupid child pretty much sums why we’re being Screwed out much good in this life!

  41. I have a 1986 Ford F-250 4×4 with a 460 I get 8 M.P.G. with it but driving it no faster then 35 I get 10.5 M.P.G. I had a 1976 ford Pinto with a 2.3L I got 25 to 30 M.P.G. One reason New cars today don’t get the M.P.G. that the old cars got is the car are heaver. If you put the new engines of today in the old cars you can get 50 to 60 M.P.G. Look at motor bikes some get over 100 M.G.P. they are light and have high flow engines.

  42. That’s right. I got amazing gas mileage in the 70’s and early 80’s. I had a Vega (bad block, though), VW Rabbit, and a Sunbird. All got much better mileage than today’s so-called fuel efficient cars. Wish I still had one of those. Can’t even find compact lightweight cars today. It’s a shame. The people who are supposedly serious about making fuel efficient cars and simply not serious at all. Can’t figure it out.

  43. I owned a Sunbird and a Chevett, neither EVER got above 30 MPG ever with the radiator fan removed. I also owned a Civic 1300FE that got an average of 42 MPG. One of the biggest reasons that modern cars do not get better milage is that they must maintain perfect stoichiomtery whereas the older, carbureted Honda could run every lean. the mixtures for maximum efficiency, perfect stoichiomtery and maximum power are all very different. I was also very surprised to find that the most efficient mixture is not the leanest mixture that will ignite.

  44. I meant to say neither ever got more than 30 MPG ever, EVEN with the radiator fan removed.

  45. my 81 VW scirocco gets 60 mpg on the highway as long as i keep my foot out of it 35- 40 if i dont, but i always run premium fuel, synthetic oil, and keep it tuned which is Very easy and cheap the only thing expensive so far was the fuel pump, and the clutch isnt cheap eithier . this car has it all! power,speed and fuel economy .not so great in the corners, but needs new struts in the rear! these cars are high dollar used because they are high quality, they last and last

  46. In 1978 Popular Science got 36 mpg at 55 in a Fiesta. In 1981 the same mag got 46 at 55 in a Escort. Look up the tests in Google Books. Just type in Popular Science. They are all on there.

  47. I have owned alot of the cars mentioned. I have owned atleast 5 escorts with the 1.6 every single one of them got the same and it was a very consistant 28 mpg and in 86 and a 1/2 when the 1.9 came standard these got a full 36 mpgs. My 81 omni came factory with a vw engine and it did get 32 but no where near 50. Chevy luv gets 50 ? as if, well anyone that thinks a pinto got more than 23 mpg is crazy because I’ve owned 10 of them too. The 1.6 and 2 liters in the 70 to 74 pintos done some better than the 2.3 which was the smallest engine available in the 75 to 80 pintos. This site is filled with lies trying to say the old cars that got such great mpg’s. I can imagine the Japanese vehicle blew away the american ones even back then. Starlet and Civic I do believe but when I have owned so many of these others I can’t believe anything on this page. Don’t believe everything you read.

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