The Fiat was a running car when bought in 1967 for $55.00. The Shell Team thought it perfect for a competitive vehicle. But to do what the team wanted it to do, modifications had to be performed. Listed below are some of the most rewarding of the choices. Some of the modifications were listed in the Popular Science article April 1970. But most all were listed in the SAE article ...50 to 244mpg. There was an extensive amount of information documented there.
The generator was removed.
The water pump and fan were removed. Electric fuel pumps (2) used to pump the water.
Tires were over inflated.
The engine and transmission were insulated to hold the heat during the race.
Shocks were removed and solid suspension was installed.
Taller tires were installed to reduce wheel speed to drop engine rpm.
Carburetion changed to a motor scooter carb. Accelerator pump use was removed.
Hotter ignition was installed to overcome leaner air/fuel mixtures.
Suspension was stablized to remove excessive movement (causing energy loss).
These are some of the most notable ones. The one part left out of the puzzle was driving technique. To explain what technique was used, one would compare what we hear about today of the hypermilers. They use a technique called Pulse and Glide. It is essentially speed up and coast down then speed up and coast down again. Only thing is, this technique was used back in the late 30s (or earlier) and still used today by a different name. Back then, the driver would crank and accelerate then kill the engine and coast to a minmum speed. Each year, the teams got smarter to out smart the rules. So the rules had to change. Honestly, it would not be safe to practice this technique driving on public roads around other drivers. But if you feel compelled to do so, always be aware when other drivers are near and do not become a nuisance on the public roadways.
More to come...Last updated 9-15-09