Gas Prices Got You Down? Drive a Classic

We’ve all been bitten by high fuel prices one way or another in recent times. Even if you take the subway to work every day, gasoline costs are buried in the higher prices you’re seeing everywhere. Wouldn’t you know it, the answer to wallet salvation is in the classics. Cars That Matter has put together a list of popular vintage cars and their city MPG numbers. Even the lowest rated, the 6-cylinder Datsun 240Z, still got 21mpg, while the motorcycle-like Honda S800 returned a whopping 42mpg.

Of course, the trade off is that these old cars have none of the creature comforts and safety features that a modern car does. Stuff like sound insulation, airbags, emissions controls and safety bumpers all conspire to add weight and cancel out much of the advancements in fuel economy that have transpired over the past few decades. But in an economic climate where even Geo Metros are selling for a premium, going old school to save gas ain’t such a crazy idea, and you’ll look a heckuva lot better doing so.

[Image: Honda Sports Registry]

This post is filed under: datsun, honda, nissan.

14 Responses to Gas Prices Got You Down? Drive a Classic

  1. Great list of cars, in the UK the price of petrol is soooo ridiculous at the moment.

  2. Rolando El Kimico said:

    With the high cost of gas, I don’t mind driving my 1974 Toyota corolla. That is a great list of cars. It is a shame that the only American gas saver car is the Chevrolet Vega.

  3. SrfairladyZ said:

    See, that list of ‘missing features’ is what makes classics exciting. 🙂 The air whistling past your weather stripping on the highway, the smell of unburnt fuel after you floor it, and a windshield that will fog up in an instant. You have to love these things.

  4. Ben said:

    So true, so true. It’s also nice that you can fix them without a degree in computer science.

  5. Omawari_San said:

    Classic cars are even better for the enviroment too. Just because all the energy and resources needed for building a new car have been spend loooong ago.

  6. coupeZ600 said:

    An old Road and Track magazine road test from ’72 says that the Honda Coupe Z 600 gets “40-42 m.p.g. on the highway”. When I noticed I would get 50+ at 7,000 ft. elevation when I hold it at 65 on the freeway I asked a mechanic friend who works on a lot of old JDM stuff, and he said the increase had to do with how much cleaner burning the fuel is today, versus the seventies. I think of that every time I look out the back window when I’m mashing it to floor (which is all the time these days, because all the mini-vans and S.U.V.’s are driving like little old ladies, and it only costs $20)

  7. coupeZ600 said:

    to fill up the tank) oops! Is there a preview comment feature available? I guess i should have used it!

  8. GEN2TWINCAM said:

    My 1982 Civic 1300FE was rated at 42/53 mpg. I often got up to 55mpg on long highway trips (keeping it at the old national limit of 55mph). It was fun seeing how far I could go on the 10.8 gallons of fuel.

    Hmmm. Should I reconsider installing that B16 engine?

  9. GEN2TWINCAM said:


    I remember my Z600 days! It was always a short stay at the gas station when you’re filling a 5 or 6 gallon tank!

    Neil – Colorado

  10. Ben said:

    Might not be such a bad idea to get another Z600 today….

  11. zulu said:

    good list. my friends little 1986 civic gets arounds 40mpg on the freeway according to him. to bad there was no toyotas on that list. i have no idea how much mpg my celica gets the odometer doest work half the time hahah i love this car

  12. Kev said:

    I notice that there are no rotaries on that list 😀

  13. blue72 said:

    Great list. My 240Z with 2.8l and mods gets 25mpg on the highway. Rolando El Kimico
    might be a little underinformed because there were a few other domestic cars on that list along with the Vega. The Crosley and Nash were both produced in North America.
    On a side note, I was temped when a Honda 600 coupe showed up in the junkyard a few months back. Just trying to find the 10″ tires would have been quite a trick though.

  14. coupeZ600 said:

    Kumho makes a 145/80-10 that is occasionally available at Discount and Tire Rack, but Yokohama makes a 165/70-10 that has a similar circumference and only about a half inch on either side wider for the old Mini’s and these are pretty common (and they make it look baaad, which is important in traffic when you only have two cylinders to get out of the way with).

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