A 1984 designed diesel Avion returns 119.1 mpg in 1478 miles

Posted By on September 5, 2010


A story Tweeted by a friend of mine in Wired highlights a Washington to Mexico one tank trip of 1478 miles and returned a “stunning 119.1. mpg.” We might hit 60 mpg in our VW TDI sometimes, but seeing someone double that is impressive. (thanks for the link Scott)

From Washington to Mexico on 12.4 Gallons Of Diesel

Craig Henderson drove 1,478 miles from from Blaine, Washington, to Mexico without stopping to refuel, burning just 12.4 gallons of diesel for a stunning 119.1 mpg.

And he did it in a car he originally designed in 1984.

Henderson rolled into Chula Vista, California, at the wheel of the Avion four days after he left home. The Avion is a car he built with Bill Green 26 years ago as a prototype high-mileage vehicle he hoped to sell. The business floundered, but Henderson never abandoned the Avion. Over the years he’s kept tinkering with it, improving its powertrain and aerodynamics.

The car was built with two things in mind: light weight and aerodynamics. To hit the featherweight 1,500-pound target, the car uses an aluminum monocoque frame with steel crash and suspension subframes at the front and rear.

The body — of carbon fiber, Kevlar and fiberglass — is riveted and bonded to the body, yielding a very stiff vehicle. An 800cc diesel engine is transversely mounted behind the driver and powers the rear wheels through a five-speed gearbox.

Because it’s so light and aerodynamic, the car needs just three to four horsepower to maintain 55 mph. That’s perfect for the tiny diesel to chug along while only sipping fuel. Henderson recently landed a sponsorship from Goodyear, so he’s installed a set of the company’s low-rolling resistance Fuel Max tires and has been averaging about 115 mpg.



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