Small classic cars offer thrifty thrills

Austin Healey Sprite

Who says econoboxes are the sole path to fuel economy?; The folks at Cars That Matter, an annual publication of collector car prices, compiled a list of classic cars that more than hold their own in fuel economy.

No, we're not seeing any Camaros or Cobra 289s on this list; understandably, the vast majority of the cars listed are quite small (the BMW Isetta being an extreme example).; With few exceptions, most of these cars are small two-place roadsters with small four-cylinders - like the Austin Healey Sprite (36 mpg city), the Datsun 1600 (26.5 mpg city), or even the Sunbeam Alpine (27 mpg city). Cars That Matter suggests going so far as making one of these classics not just an occasional ride, but perhaps even a daily driver.; Certainly, making a Bugeye Sprite or a Fiat X1/9 an economical daily driver sounds fun, but there are a number of issues - notably practicality and reliability - that need to be considered before making such a commitment. Source: Cars That Matter

Look, it's all about physics, right? Light weight, small motor, big fun. My '66 Porsche 912 gets almost 20 city, almost 30 highway, and corners like hell. Yes, any big pickup/SUV with an enormous V8 can beat me off the line, but god help them if they have to turn a corner....
It's certainly not a bad way to go. Around town in my '67 MGB/GT, I generally get about 17 or 18 mpg; on my 1900-mile highway road trip last fall, I got about 22 mpg. Not exactly Prius-frugal, but it's sure a lot better than an old V-8-powered muscle machine.
I am doing this exactly - driving my recently roadworthy 1967 Datsun Rl411 wagon as a daily driver. I must add that economy and conservation along with the fun factor add to the upside of knowing my little investment is paying off. But reliability and safety are on my mind always. If my car wasn't so odd looking I think I might be driven over. Most of the time they honk at me at the intersection. My car really moves but I pull out slowly - I am conserving! I avoid major freeways in Houston where I live and chose my bigger SUV if I have to travel the long distances. So for local puttering about - it works (Oh yeah, no AC).

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