Will high fuel prices change your attitudes to your hobby?

Keith Adams 

High fuel costs are getting to be a bit of a bore...
High fuel costs are getting to be a bit of a bore...

There’s a lot of talk at the moment about how fuel prices are set to rocket and it’s clear that, if the most pessimistic forecasters are correct and we are indeed heading for the £2.00 litre, the way we view cars is going to change considerably. I can already see the effects in the office – more and more people are car-sharing now and those who can’t are changing their habits. Some have already bought more economical cars to deal with the pain of it all. 

Currently, I am very lucky to run a Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion as my long-termer for Diesel Car magazine and am thankful that I’m not doing the same thing for a muscle car magazine! However, even if I wasn’t, I’d be tooling around in a diesel powered car right now. I bought my first black pump-fuelled car back in 1993 and have never been that far from running one ever since. Currently, a Volkswagen Golf Mk4 TDI is also sitting on my drive and I’ve no intention of parting with it. When a car with a 50 litre tank costs more than £70 to fill-up niceties such as super performance go out of the window. 

How, though, does the situation effect my hobby? Well, so far, it’s not been so bad, but only because I’ve not been running my classics over the winter. The Polski-Rover SD1 remains with Mike for the moment as he’s still tweaking its oily bits, while the NSU Ro80 is in my garage slowly being disasembled. Once the summer comes, I doubt either of them will rack up significant mileage, which is a shame, given that the Rover is so nice and really should be a daily driver. Currently, then, it’s fair to say that high fuel prices aren’t affecting my hobby, but they sure as hell are affecting my driving habits. 

Interestingly, while kicking the tyres at my local secondhand tat emporium, I spotted a silver 1997 Saab 900. I’d never usually look at a GM900, but the price, which I thought was £295, seemed very tempting. Unfortunately, as I got closer, I saw that it was actually £595. Bugger. I looked anyway and soon saw that supplementary filler, which denoted LPG. That got me thinking. Half-price fuel for 90 per cent efficiency. Interesting… I thought some more and had a closer look. It all looks straight and there’s a load of history backing it all up… so should I buy? Well, if petrol wasn’t £1.40 a litre, I wouldn’t entertain the notion but it is, and I am. 

Am I mad? 

Yes, probably – but, as I said, this damned high fuel situation is changing everything. Is it doing the same for you?

Keith Adams


  1. I ran an LPG Rover 75 V6 for a couple of years, while I was doing quite high mileages, and it was fantastic – I can’t tell you what a smug feeling it is, running around in a large, luxurious, powerful car for probably less than the cost of running a Metro! The main barrier to getting LPG is the cost of the conversion in the first place but, if you are buying second-hand and the previous owner has already taken that hit, it’s a winner. Just make sure it’s got the right certificate, otherwise getting insurance can be a right pain.

    I don’t have an LPG vehicle now but I’m lucky enough not to have to commute by car and these days go to work on the train. It’s brilliant – experiencing the rush hour every day just made me hate motoring, but now I can actually see getting behind the wheel as something fun. I ran an MG ZS180 (not LPG converted) until recently and that would have been crippling if I’d be doing 50 miles a day, but was quite acceptable doing 50 miles a week.

    I think we probably have to accept that, going forward in the long term, oil prices are only going to go in one direction. The days of us car enthusiasts running V8 SD1s and the like as daily drivers are very likely over. Is that necessarily a bad thing, though? I think if I had such a special car I’d appreciate it considerably more by saving it for special occasions, than if I was scraping the ice off it every morning for a trek into work!

  2. I don’t have particularly thirsty cars – a 2005 MG TF 115 for daily running and a Midget, Wolseley Hornet and a couple of Minis as my projects and show cars. My daily commute is only about six miles, five days a week so I do have some slack as far as ‘leisure miles’ go. The Midget only gets occasional airings at this time of year to keep things moving and turning over.

    Longer term, though, as potential self-employment looms the TF is probably going to have to make way for a diesel light van or hatchback. This will be the first time I have considered a diesel car. However, if it is going to have to be my working car, then mileage will be going up so economy is going to be more important.

  3. I think we can expect a surge in the prices of diesel R8s (and 100s?) with Peugeot engines which run happily on biodiesel – if you can still find a supplier…

  4. It certainly has made a difference in the way I drive but, to be fair, I have driven thrifty for years. Keeping your car in good running order helps your fuel go a long way and even something as minor sounding such as lugging a tool box around in the boot or having one tyre 5lbs down in air can cost you a few quid a week.

    Yes, I think the price of fuel is disgraceful and there is also a “muck and tat” emporium on the way to my old place of employment. The Proprietor has being trying to offload a Rover 420 saloon and an S plate Saab 9-3 SE for weeks along with a few other crocks of rubbish with 2.0 litre+ engines.

  5. Talk about bad timing – I’ve just swapped a Peugeot HDi for a 2 litre petrol Honda Accord auto…

  6. I took to owning two cars and taking the train to work: the first car (the nice one) at home to get to the station, the second car (a £500 banger) at work to visit clients in. It works and saves me the £15 per day it was costing to drive to work. It’s a lot less stressful (although I get two trains and have to walk across a City to change stations), but I can read my morning paper on the way and have a snooze on the way back. The rail pass is £55 per month.

    The drawback? It takes two and a half hours to get to work! The best solution would be for more people to work from home for two to three days per week, only going into the office when it’s essential – but then there’d be all those empty buildings to consider…

    What about changing my driving? Well, I suppose that, because I’m starting out so early and coming home so late, I miss the congestion (the drive to the station is good fun actually!). The downside is that I’d love to have my evenings back!

    I like the LPG suggestion – I’ve driven a LPG-equipped BMW – but not with Petrol engine fuel consumption. I’ll stick to my Diesel and hope that, at some point, Bio-fuel becomes more widely available and ethically grown without jeopardising food crops…

  7. I tend to do less annual miles these days and accelerate/brake smoothly where possible, but the price hikes are still affecting me adversely. I used to put £15-£20 in at a time, but now it tends to be a £20+ top up. I only brim the tank at holiday times. Looks like the fuel costs are going to worsen…

  8. Why worry? I spend nearly £300 a month on LPG… Strangely, for a fuel that is on a different taxation scale, it stays 50p beneath unleaded fuel… Hmm… I think diesel used to be the answer, but pound for pound a used diesel will cost more to run – you rarely hear of pump failure, common rail failure, dual mass flywheel failure or turbo failure on 100,000 mile petrol cars.

    I reckon that where we are all going wrong is that we work too far from home – that’s something I’m extremely guilty of…

  9. We are the only people to blame – Government after Government puts the taxes up – we are now paying something like 60% on tax alone…

    The price goes up – we winge and go to work…

    The price goes up some more, supposedly because of events in the Middle East, but those facts that don’t stand up if they are examined – we winge, go to work, and do nowt again…

    The only way the prices are going to be kept reasonable is if the people who drive cars take time out to protest the situation – both the ridiculous amount we pay in tax – and the way petrol stations can gouge consumers left, right and centre.

    Local Government wails that ‘we need the taxes to fix the roads’ but there are some busy roads and junctions in my area that are almost in such a state that you’d need a Sherman ‘Easy Eight’ to go down them without wincing every time your suspension complains like a 80 year olds bad back – and it’s not as if I drive an old car! I don’t see them getting fixed, even though that’s what I am supposed to be paying for.

    My parents came back from the Continent last week – driving a M-B E320 estate with a turbodiesel engine. how is it that the same fuel is £1 a litre in Switzerland of all places and we are paying almost 40p more?

    The reason is simple – every time it goes up we winge and moan – and then go back to bed to dream of the days you could buy a secondhand Norman castle, go to the bear baiting and nab yourself a nice tidy Austin 12/4 and still have change from a white fiver.

    I reckon that, even if just the British readers of this website, did a go slow on the M25 or something for a few days, people would take notice. Hell, if some of BMC/BLs finest were put into service, people might even smile at old memories as they trundled down the M25 at 30mph…

    The *only* way we’re not going to get clobbered with higher and higher fuel prices is if we get off our own behinds and make it clear that we do not accept them any more.

  10. Jemma :
    My parents came back from the Continent last week – driving a M-B E320 estate with a turbodiesel engine. how is it that the same fuel is £1 a litre in Switzerland of all places and we are paying almost 40p more?

    Well, that’s presumably because Switzerland doesn’t spend as much on public services, its health service, welfare state, national defence, etc, etc, etc.

    Motoring taxes are not hypothecated – they are not solely collected to pay for road maintenance. They just go into the pot with the proceeds of every other tax to be spent on whatever the Government sees fit – and, theoretically at least, you decide what that is when you cast your vote.

    Yes, of course, I would like to pay less for my petrol but I think that, at a time when the state of the economy dictates that public spending is having to be slashed and other taxes put up, it would be a bit unrealistic to expect a significant cut in fuel duty.

  11. @Wilko
    Actually Swiss taxes and Government provisions are amongst the highest in Continental Europe – the difference is that the UK Government likes stealth taxes.

    I wish people would stop rolling out the wonderful NHS when ever taxes are mentioned, since even people who work in it admit it’s mostly dismal. How about telling a 16 year old she’s going to die anyway so they won’t fund any more cancer treatment – word for word, to her face?

    How about we have a little chat with the Government about how much of our fuel taxes are going to fund Eurofighter Typhoon. You know the one – the one that took 20 years to develop, is more expensive than better alternatives and the one we’re gonna junk half of the production run within a year of them being built.

    We are repeatedly fed lies or half truth, and we only have to turn to a nice chap called Goebbels to know that ‘the size of the lie doesn’t matter – the more times you repeat it, the more will believe it’ – to paraphrase…

    We’ve been told this, that and the other for years and we’ve fallen for it hook line and sinker – £1.29 per litre is the result…

  12. @Jemma
    I didn’t actually give any opinion on the NHS, good or bad, I just pointed out that (rightly or wrongly) our motoring taxes go towards paying for it although, on the Eurofighter thing, I did also make reference to national defence.

    I’m not offering a political view here – I’m just saying that the British population chooses to elect political parties which are committed to spending vast sums of cash on these, and other, things – and they have to be paid for.

    I agree with your dislike of stealth taxes, but I don’t agree that fuel duty is one of them – after all, everyone knows about it! Fuel duty is an indirect tax intended to change people’s behaviour – it seeks to make you drive less in the same way as duty on fags seeks to stop you smoking.

    Given that the oil supply is dwindling and becoming ever more volatile (the main reason for spiralling fuel prices), I can see the arguments for trying to encourage us to use less of it.

  13. @Jemma
    You may recall a few years ago that haulage drivers in Scotland blockaded the BP refinery in Grangemouth in protest at the cost of diesel breaching the £1 barrier. Now, with it exceeding £1.40, there is, as you say, a roaring silence.

    We all know that the fuel duty and taxation in the UK is criminal compared to other countries, but it always has been – this is not a new development to try and get people to keep their cars off the road, as they often claim.

    The whole environmental issue is a con – the last Government claimed that a third runway at Heathrow, with all the extra air traffic and pollution that would bring, was a necessity to ensure Britain’s position as a centre of world business. However, they then imposed astronomical road tax levels on so-called gas guzzlers that made no sense. There are older cars on the road that have much lower taxation levels that spout more CO2 and other posisons that any modern car could try and emulate. Indeed, if they are built pre-1975 they don’t even need an Emissions Test for an MOT and owners of pre-1973 vehicles don’t even pay ANY road tax!

    Now, before anyone jumps on me, I know classic cars aren’t used that much so am not stupid! It still doesn’t explain why new cars can have an annual road tax bill of nearly £500 and meet strict emissions controls and the oldies don’t!

    Again, we have known for long enough that motoring taxation doesn’t always go on road programmes, but I don’t actually have a problem with that. What I have a problem with is the disproportionate looting of the motorists pockets that takes place across many platforms – road tax, fuel taxation, speed cameras, car parking at £2 per hour – the list goes on. Surely, if Cameron and Clegg are cutting benefits to layabouts (which does not apply to all unemployed people – I was one for five months myself) and limit the amounts paid to claiming families, then they can maybe afford to relieve some of the burden on the hacked-off car owner.

    The news folk are saying this week that Cameron is not making any announcement about Fuel Duty as he wants to keep the ‘good news’ for the Budget – I am not holding my breath.

  14. Paul T :
    There are older cars on the road that have much lower taxation levels that spout more CO2 and other posisons that any modern car could try and emulate. Indeed, if they are built pre-1975 they don’t even need an Emissions Test for an MOT and owners of pre-1973 vehicles don’t even pay ANY road tax!

    Now, before anyone jumps on me, I know classic cars aren’t used that much so am not stupid! It still doesn’t explain why new cars can have an annual road tax bill of nearly £500 and meet strict emissions controls and the oldies don’t!

    It hardly seems necessary to point out that, if classic cars were subject to the same emmissions standards as modern cars, they would all fail and have to be scrapped. I’m not sure that would be such a great thing…

  15. Thankfully, I’m not hugely affected because I use public transport in a city that has a properly organised regional PTE. Good old Centro. In any case, I wouldn’t want to take a car through the streets during rush hour because I pretty much want to relax when I leave the building and letting someone else do the driving is part of this.

    I own a Jaguar XJ Sport, which has the economy of a V6 Mondeo – so fuel consumption isn’t bad at all until you give it a bootful. I tend to drive it at weekends and have a blast when I feel like I want to go somewhere. However, with fuel prices increasing every week, that ‘somewhere’ gradually begins to get closer and closer to home.

    The car itself, and for it’s age, is in very good shape – all the electrics work, the suspension has been refurbished and there’s not much underbody surface rust – given the fact that it’s stored in a garage when not in use. However, despite all this, the cost of an LPG conversion for a car like this is a bit out of my reach so that won’t happen anytime soon.

    My attitude to cars and driving in general is that I drive because I like it for the pleasure of driving. I refuse to take my car to work because I know I won’t enjoy driving to work, in rush hour, knowing that my destination is a place where I have to, er, work…

    My car is for the weekends and, if I have to be somewhere, let someone else do the driving.

  16. @Wilko
    The point of my comment was that the Government’s environmental excuse for putting high road tax levels on modern cars carries little weight when you consider the emissions levels of older cars. It was just a convenient way of screwing even more money out of motorists to pay for their excessive spending and welfare bill.

    No one wants to see them scrapped and, as someone who owns four classics, I am pleased the road tax levels are nil or negligible. Anyway, even if they were subject to Emissions Tests, the carbs could be adjusted to meet the required outputs for the MOT and thereafter reset to achieve decent performance!

  17. @Paul T
    It’s a commonly held misconception that the UK is more highly taxed on petrol than anyone else in Europe. We’re near the top, but not at the top. What’s slightly galling is that France, which has similar fuel prices, lumps its VED on petrol so there’s not the supplementary tax bill, as we have the in UK.

    To me that is the only truly fair system – the more you use, the more you pay. Yes, it discourages social mobility and would penalise country-dwellers, but that could be tweaked by reducing the cost of petrol in out-lying areas, something that’s being discussed now in Scotland.

    Here’s February’s AA Price Comparitor (February 2011).
    I reckon that it makes interesting reading:

    Country Petrol p/litre Diesel p/litre
    Austria 108.95 107.61
    Belgium 131.06 116.52
    Czech Republic 115.09 112.69
    Denmark 133.29 122.47
    Finland 125.85 109.88
    France 134.59 118.03
    Germany 123.83 107.10
    Greece 133.92 116.94
    Netherlands 138.96 114.58
    Hungary 112.18 112.18
    Ireland 117.78 111.81
    Italy 123.24 113.74
    Luxembourg 103.91 96.51
    Estonia 101.47 104.83
    Latvia 100.36 101.07
    Lithuania 107.59 100.78
    Poland 104.95 100.66
    Slovakia 116.18 106.01
    Slovenia 107.52 103.99
    Portugal 126.18 110.80
    Spain 107.61 105.08
    Sweden 129.48 131.02
    Switzerland 110.98 119.42
    USA 51.16 57.58
    Malta 110.13 101.72
    Bulgaria 101.42 106.14

    UK 128.80 134.00

    One thing is clear: diesel users are being unfairly penalised in the UK but, in terms of petrol prices, we’re in or around the European norm.

  18. @Keith Adams
    The Government spoke about putting the VED onto fuel years ago and have probably declined to do so for the reasons you state – people would use their cars less, so tax income would drop.

    The current system ensures a constant stream of predictable income regardless of road use. I think that, if road pricing does ever become a reality, then that should surely be the time to review fuel duty and scrap VED.

    Additionally, aside from the taxation issue, another pitfall of scrapping VED is the possibility of un-MOT’d cars being on the road. They would have to start administering the MOT the way they do VED at the moment, as the tax disc is the only time an official check is done on a car’s MOT status unless it is stopped by the Police for a driving indiscretion. They would have to find the money to pay for that. Wonder where it would come from…

  19. Haha! I’m just about to exchange a 100 mile per day commute for working from home. That will save me £15 a day and mean our family can manage on one car!

    Incidentally, taking out the fuel tax escalator in the budget isn’t anything to do with the Government listening. Oil prices have gone up so much recently that they’re getting the extra tax anyway – as a percentage of the oil price. More spin = don’t be taken in!

  20. The rising cost of fuel has made me review even more stringently how I use my MG ZR turbo-diesel. Driving into town, which is just a mile away, and doing similar short journeys is a total waste of fuel as the engine is never up to running temeperature or delivering its optimum level of efficiency. Instead, I tend to walk. Driving outside of town to places such as to the nearest city, which is 20 miles away, makes even more sense and ensures that economy is at its best.

    My own issues are with people who use a large, gas-guzzling vehicle to do short, unnecessary journeys trips (less than a mile) in areas such as Central London. They then complain about the cost of filling up on a weekly basis, even though they can afford to run such a vehicle. The real problem is with how they can’t imagine mobility over short distances without the use of four wheels.

    I am against the constant rise in fuel prices, but I think it is an ideal opportunity for people to review whether they have to be completely reliant on a car for getting around. This is not an option in rural areas, such as East Devon, where I live.

    Then again, when not at work and the open roads are hopefully clearer, driving the car makes you realise what the real appeal of having a driving licence is all about.

  21. Well, if we’d bought more Rovers and fewer Audis and BMWs etc., we’d have more tax revenue and less pressure to increase duty. To everyone who bought imports – serves you right.

  22. Blah, blah, blah, same old same old, blame the Government/BMW… Keith asked how fuel price increase have affected your driving habits not your views on the politics of it all! There’s enough of that in the media already. NO ONE IN POWER IS LISTENING!

    Anyway, for the record, the first thing that will be affected is leisure activities – in my case that means I won’t be able to drive to as many car shows as I’d like, but then what’s the point if visitors can’t afford to attend them anyway. It’s going to be a tough year for shows and exhibitions.

  23. Well, with fuel prices being so high, now seems like the perfect time to buy a V8 or even a Jaguar V12. Yes, it’ll be crippling to fuel but just think how cheap you could pick the cars up for!

    I seem to be driving at least as much as I was but it is getting ridiculous now. The biggest mistake we ever made was allowing fuel to go over £1 per litre. Now you’ve got the Fair Fuel Group saying drop the 1p duty rise and actually lobbying against direct action which is frankly a half-arsed measure.

    However, on the other hand, the high cost is probably encouraging people to drive less and therefore save resources. The high cost of fuel also gives the manufacturers an incentive to make more economical cars.

    I had the pleasure of driving a BMW320d Efficient Dynamics at the weekend: 163bhp, 0-60 in 8secs and only 109g/km. The one I was driving had done 800 miles and was already giving an average of 62mpg, amazing.

  24. I run a Disco Diesel at the weekend but, during the week, I run a large van for my business. Despite its bulk and 2.8lt engine, my Fiat Ducato is actually not bad on fuel and returns about 35mpg. It’s essential for my business, both for raw materials and finished products.

    However, I got a bit worried about 18 months ago when fuel went up briefly to £1.30 a litre so I went out and bought a smaller, cheap Escort van for running around in, rather than using the larger van or push up my prices. It was a good move, I reckon I saved a packet on fuel and reduced the wear and tear on my larger van. The Escort is a clean, low mileage late model and should hold its value as these vans, like Transits, are highly sort after. I even managed to get a good deal on the insurance by insuring both vehicles with the same company saving about £300!

    I have tried to make non-essential journeys, kept my speed down and doubled up customers to save fuel. I also cycle a lot – not a green thing, but for fun – and we shop locally because, luckily, we live in a good, well-stocked village.

    However, if diesel goes up to £2.00 a litre, then I will have no choice and I will have to increase my prices. I have owned a small courier business in the past and have a lot of friends in that trade struggling to stay a float – it’s not just the small “White Van Man” companies, it’s the bigger players that are obviously hurting as well.

    The maths are quite straight forward: fuel goes up, transporting goods around the country goes up and inflation goes through the roof etc.. I am doing my bit, as I am sure everyone else is, but I fear it’s not going to be enough.

  25. @Kevin Davis
    I know what you are saying, Kevin, but Keith’s question was how the fuel prices would affect your HOBBY not driving habits. It’s all very well saying it’s boring blaming the Government etc, but it is linked to the question and is open for debate.

    You have even said yourself that it will affect how many shows you will go to this year – if the Government has any influence on fuel prices, either upwards or downwards, then you are an interested party in their actions and should be concerned about it. Why should your hobby be negatively impacted upon due to the greed of the Treasury?

    Oh, and how do BMW come into it? I don’t know – maybe you can explain why you said that.

  26. I forgot to include the hobby bit. My Discovery does about 35 mpg, my 944 about 30 mpg, **w E30 30 mpg and I am restoring the GT6.

    The cost of riding my bike at my age is the purchase of vast quantities of Deep Heat and the ridicule from my kids taking the p**s out of my lycra shorts!

  27. @Simon Woodward
    Thankfully, we have no kids at home to take the p**s out of us when we go cycling – just some funny looks from three spaniels and two cats as to why Mum and Dad are wearing those bright yellow tops and funny hats again..!

    My further expense is Radox as I also run three or four mornings a week so hot baths are more frequent now!

  28. My TF 1.6 is costing around the same as my Rover 25 TD fuel wise. I get 400 miles to £60 of petrol in the TF and used to get 360 to £55 in the diesel – factor in the price difference of the fuel and there isn’t much difference.

    Will I be changing? Yes, I have already changed by trying to reduce my speed and using public transport when possible (it isn’t actually that bad in Manchester or for long distances, most of the time) and will probably change futher by car sharing with a colleague.

    The politics is immaterial for me. Logically, a limited resource cannot last indefinitely.

    My work takes me around the North West, often to rural areas, so driving is a requirement of my job and paid for. Traveling 40 odd miles to work is kind of my choice, except for the lack of alternative jobs out there, and an increasingly expensive one.

    I believe the increased cost of travel, along with the loss of productivity it causes, will force Information Technology to fill the void – video conferencing, podcasts, homeworking etc.

  29. Petrol’s getting expensive at this end of the world too, with a litre of Premium now more than NZ$2. That certainly puts a dent in the wallet when filling up the Rover V8 now but, as it’s only done 400 miles in the last nine years, I can’t say that my hobby is terribly affected so far.

  30. I regard myself as a car lover, a petrolhead, whatever. However, now even I am starting to resent driving and having to own a car. Driving can no longer be considered a leisure activity unless you have very deep pockets.

  31. Well, having “upgraded” from a 2.0 diesel (45mpg) to a 2.0 petrol automatic (30mpg at best), I forsee myself doing fewer long ‘leisure’ journeys. Last year, for example, we drove the diesel from Belfast to Silverstone.

    However, to do a similar journey now, we might either have to save up the equivalent of a night’s hotel stay for the extra petrol or use the other half’s Fiesta 1.2 (which would make the journey less comfortable).

    I’ve cruise controlled at 60mph on my last few motorway runs.

    @Paul T
    Perhaps MOTs could be more strictly monitored if we abolish VED? Here, in Northern Ireland, it is already law to show a Vehicle Test Certificate disc on the windscreen.
    VOSA and the DVLA keep computer records of MOTs/Vehicle Test Certificates. Compliance could be made a legal requirement and an exception made for those vehicles which are off the road, similar to SORN.

  32. I have just bought an MG ZT 2.5 manual. Am I mad? Well, the bottom book for a 2003 model is £2000 for a mileage of 70k but I paid £1400 for a minter with 57k. I have got the mileage up to 33mpg according to the onboard computer so that’s not bad.

    However, I am investigating an HHO system that creates hyrdrogen and injects it with the fuel. Claims are an improvment of 25% in mileage – if it works (big if), then I would get nearer 40mpg from a 2.5 litre petrol. I’ve cut my mileage by 20% to compensate for the high fuel prices, but commerical users can’t do that – I can see fuel protests soon!!

  33. @Simon Weakley
    I hope that you don’t mind me asking, but how much does the purchase and installation of the HHO system cost? Is it more cost-effective than an LPG conversion or is there another reason why you’ve gone for it?

  34. @Will
    That would certainly need to happen as there would be no other way of proving that a car was either MOT’d or off the road. That would also mean a ‘reminder’ system like VED and I suppose the existing system could be adapted by the relevant agency for MOTs with little amendment.

  35. Before moving to the UAE to work, I ran LPG cars for six years. To be honest, if I had had to pay petrol or diesel prices I’d have been in deep financial trouble. I usually ran Rover 800s and my “pennies per mile” fuel cost was lower than a diesel Metro (and my LPG XJ40 4 litre was giving a price equivalent of 28mpg around town and 45mpg+ on a run). A little bit of research allowed me to find an off-forecourt supplier of LPG who would undercut the big chains by about 5-10p litre.

    I have been surprised by my 3.8L V6 Chevrolet Lumina Coupe (the Holden Monaro CV6 in Australia) – with its relatively low-tech pushrod engine, 4 speed auto and Vauxhall Omega-sized platform – is giving me 27mpg around town and over 35mpg on a run even though I’m not driving gently. That’s better MPG than a manual Rover 820.

    The difference, when compared to European cars, is that the Chevrolet’s engine is tuned for torque and the gearing is very tall (2100 rpm at 75mph compared to 4000 rpm at the same speed for an 820 or 827). I’m tempted to export it to the UK when I leave here and convert it to LPG.

    Just for info, here are a few numbers:

    The UK average of 12,000 miles per year equates to 33.3 gallons per month if you do 30mpg. That’s pproximately £5 per day, in other words, or just over £1800 per year.

    I suspect that many new car sales are drivers swapping their older cars for more economical models. Trade your old, 30mpg petrol car in against a new 60mpg diesel or petrol car and you will save about £850 per year in fuel costs. However, what about the depreciation? Well, if you replace your old car with a new 45mpg car, then you’ll save less than £500 per year and a new car will lose that just driving off the forecourt for the first time. Too many drivers don’t consider the “whole life” costs of a car.

  36. Richard Moss : The difference compared to European cars is that the Chevrolet’s engine is tuned for torque and the gearing is very tall (2100 rpm at 75mph compared to 4000 rpm at the same speed for an 820 or 827). I’m tempted to export it to the UK when I leave here and convert it to LPG.

    Presumably, if you had the necessary expertise (which I don’t), you could retune the engine of a British-purchased car (a Rover 820, for example) in order to achieve a similar improvement in fuel consumption. Is that correct, would you say?

  37. @Andrew Elphick
    I bought the R8s used and have owned one of them for 13 years. I have never been in a position to buy new cars.

    However, we do need to encourage exports and support our industry. This will increase tax revenues and reduce our balance of payments deficit. It is true that our driving habits matter, but our buying habits also matter. My family has owned plenty of new Rovers, MGs, Jaguars, Land Rovers and associated vans. “Ask not what your country can do for you…”

  38. @Paul T
    Actually, if you have ever watched Malcolm in the Middle, then that just about sums up my life! Mind you, my two young sons are car mad which has its advantages, lots of legitimate excuses to go to car shows/museums/motor racing etc. However, getting a run in, skiing, golf etc. have all become a very distant memory!

    LPG is a good route to take – I ran a 1992 Range Rover V8 on gas and, despite a very small power drop when overtaking, I was pretty impressed. I took the precaution of replacing the head gasket and giving the cooling system a good overhaul before I had the conversion.

    Things may have moved on now but, when I had mine done about 10 years ago, there were loads of overheating problems with LPG. I never had a problem with overheating, despite running it all day in heavy city traffic but it’s worth doing some homework on the subject for those thinking about a conversion.

  39. Richard Moss :
    The difference, when compared to European cars, is that the Chevrolet’s engine is tuned for torque and the gearing is very tall (2100 rpm at 75mph compared to 4000 rpm at the same speed for an 820 or 827). I’m tempted to export it to the UK when I leave here and convert it to LPG.

    Presumably, if you had the necessary expertise (which I don’t), you could retune the engine of a British-purchased car (a Rover 820, for example) in order to achieve a similar improvement in fuel consumption. Is that correct, would you say?

  40. @Wilko
    Not really – the engine on an 820 simply isn’t big enough to match the low end torque of a Yank style V6 and even engines like the KV6 and Honda C27 are a bit “top end” because of their design. All Rovers, in my experience, are undergeared as every one I’ve ever driven is close to 20mph/1000 rpm in top and that’s just stupid.

    I put a 420 diesel box on my 820 Sterling and dropped 700 rpm off the motorway cruise. It made it much more refined, more economical (2mpg better on average) and had no significant effect upon performance in the four lower gears. However, the 820 only just had enough torque to handle that and it would have suited the V6s better.

  41. The rising fuel prices will, without question, change the way I drive. Indeed, with them already at an all-time high, I’ve now decided to walk to my local supermarket (weather permitting) which will save me some petrol on my car.

    I do, though, think everyone is getting all political about it. Mind you, I suppose the fact that the price of fuel is going up etc. IS a political issue – besides being a social and economic issue.

  42. @Luke McCormack
    It’s hard to distance the politics from the economics. Fuel taxation is Government territory and they have committed to increasing them no matter what happens to the oil price.

    However, when the oil price goes up, they get extra tax anyway, so the need to increase tax further via the escalator must be reduced.

  43. We must get a grip on reality. The media delight in reporting bad news and we must see beyond this.

    I have trawled the newspaper archives for AROnline and know that we have been here before. Back in 1956 BMC panicked and authorised the development of the Mini and things soon stabilised. We saw Mini vans fitted with batteries that could do 100 miles before they needed recharging in the 1960s.

    Oil price rises in 1973 seemed to spell the end for large engined vehicles, the world panicked but things soon returned to normal. We had a repeat of this in 1979 and yet, by the early 1980s, sales of luxury cars were booming.

    The situation we are enduring now will eventually stabilise. Someone, somewhere is merely profiteering out of all this. Electric cars are still hopelessly undeveloped and soon it will be business as usual.

  44. Well, to answer Keith’s question, no, not really. I’ve always had a sensible car for day to day stuff and anything fun/juicy to run has been an extra/luxury. The only difference now is that, the more I spend on petrol each month thanks to the ever increasing price, the less I have to waste on running a second “toy” car.

    Finally, as for diesel, I detest the way 4 cylinder diesels drive, but why bother with diesel when a 2.0 petrol Focus will easily do 40mpg anyway? Diesel makes sense for bigger cars but, having driven a selection of common rail TDCi/CDTi/TDI-powered repmobiles and not been much taken with any of them, I’ll be steering clear of the black pump until I can afford something from the Green Oval with a TDV6/8, ta.

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