A funny thing happened on the way to production. It’s not that priorities changed, it’s that economic reality reared its ugly head. I’ve wanted to kick our new fuel-economy focused video series Ain’t Fuelin’ off with a Honda Civic HX Coupe for the longest time. But the fact is that we didn’t raise enough funds to make that happen right off the bat. I set the funding bar just high enough to cover expenses, but not high enough to cover the acquisition of a suitable vehicle. To do this right, we need to start the Civic project with an unmodified vehicle. The original engine, suspension, and lightweight (Enkei) wheels need to be intact.
Our goal is to measure the improvement from stone stock to MPG-modified. Simply put, too many of the HX manual Coupes have been either butchered with questionable parts and hideous mods or the mileage has run around the clock twice. We can’t waste funds returning cars to stock form.
So we’re not giving up on the Civic … we’re just waiting for the right opportunity to appear. The ideal candidate should have no more than 150,000 miles or so on the odometer and must be mechanically sound, with documentation of maintenance. It’s okay if there’s exterior cosmetic work to be done. (Fenders, hoods, and bumpers are inexpensive enough to replace and after last week’s trip to the 3M Boot Camp I’m ready to dust off my long-dormant mad bondo skills.)
Most importantly, the Civic mule needs to be priced right. If we had raised even five figures, we’d be spending more freely. But tying up half our funds in a used car with over 200K on the clock just wasn’t in the cards, no matter how clean that car might have been. Dropping four grand on a 220K 2002 HX was too much of a risk when it came to the potential for resale.
I’ve spent a good bit of time on schwag lately. There’s some cool stuff coming, but one of the unfortunate truths of running a Kickstarter campaign is that fulfilling the donor perks includes costs that you might not originally factor. Mundane things, like packaging and shipping … and quality thing, when you don’t want to settle for a less expensive option on your schwag, because the next level up looks so much better.
As it looks now, we’ll be starting Ain’t Fuelin’ off with a 2004 Ford F-150. That’s right. An awesomely huge gas-sucking four wheel drive beast. We’ll see what impact our mindful maintenance procedures and simple mods have on America’s biggest selling vehicle. A one or two average mile per gallon (MPG) change in gas mileage can make a huge difference.
Once the testing on the F-150 is complete, we’ll launch into our second project. There’s a super cool story to be told on this one, but I’m not at the liberty to tell it just yet.
Stay tuned. It’s about to get very real …
– by Daniel Gray